MSN Messenger: Revived

Monday, September 23, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

Do you miss the good old days of using MSN Messenger? Check out Escargot, a custom server that makes old versions of MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger work again. This blog post will go over how you can get started.

From https://escargot.log1p.xyz/:

Escargot is a server software built to recreate the older MSN Messenger architecture, used back when Microsoft still had the service running. Its code works for some versions of MSN.

And the question “why?” is answered:

Why not? MSN Messenger was once the ultimate king of instant messaging and social networking programs, in a time before Facebook, Skype, Discord, or Twitter. But then Microsoft bought Skype in 2012 and thought that owning two seperate [sic] chat services was redundant, so MSN was shut down. Which is a shame, ’cause even though it might not have the latest features, it still is a good IM platform. Now several people are working on reverse engineering a server for every major MSN version, and you can chat with people all over the world right now!

The GitLab project and source code can be viewed here: https://gitlab.com/valtron/msn-server/

Steps

  1. Create an account on https://escargot.log1p.xyz/register (no confirmation email will be sent)
  2. Go to https://escargot.log1p.xyz/downloads
  3. Select your preferred language
  4. Download the pre-patched MSN Messenger client. I recommend v7.5 even though they recommend v8.5:
    1. Leaner client (8.3MB vs 13.3MB)
    2. More stable
    3. Earlier feature releases
    4. Better compatibility with Wine (if running under Linux)
  5. Install the client and log in using your credentials used above in step #1

That’s about it!

Customizing

You can also download Messenger Plus! and A-Patch if you’d like; yes they do work even on Linux!

  1. Messenger Plus! from https://escargot.log1p.xyz/downloads (“Messenger Plus!” for <= v7.5, and “Messenger Plus!  Live” for v8.1+)
  2. A-Patch: v7.5 | v8.5
    1. My A-Patch config for MSN v7.5

MSN on Linux

Ignore this section if you use Windows.

MSN works on Linux but you’ll have to do a few things! By default it will look like this when you start it up via Wine:

The “E-mail address” and “Password” fields won’t accept any text.

You can follow the below steps to get it working:

  1. Install Wine and Winetricks if you haven’t already
  2. Follow steps #1-4 under “Steps” above to install the MSN Messenger client but don’t run it yet
    1. If you’re feeling adventurous and do try v8.5 instead of v7.5, you’ll find that the installation window does not appear and it might silently install MSN. I say might because I found it to be inconsistent on multiple attempts.
  3. Open a terminal window and enter the following commands:
    winetricks gdiplus
    winetricks msxml3
    winetricks riched20

    You may be prompted to install the cabextract package (e.g. sudo apt-get install cabextract)

  4. If you want to use A-Patch, you’ll need to run:
    winetricks vb6run
  5. Start MSN Messenger!

For Wink functionality:

winetricks flash

If you find there’s any other missing functionality:

winetricks tahoma
winetricks riched30
winetricks msls31

If there’s still anything not working:

winetricks corefonts
winetricks gecko

One thing to note is the balloon tooltip – that appears when you close the MSN Messenger window – saying something to the effect of “MSN Messenger is still running, click this to not display again” is not clickable in Linux, meaning this annoying message will appear every time you close MSN.

To hide the ballon notification:

  1. Run the following command:
    wine regedit
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft
  3. Click on MSNMessenger in the left-navigation to list the contents of this registry folder
  4. In the right-hand pane, right-click in any blank area and go to New => Binary Value
  5. Name the new item as: DSBkgndMode
  6. Right-click on DSBkgndMode and click on Modify
  7. Set the value to 01 00 00 00 and click on OK (this is a bit finicky, what worked for me was: press right arrow twice, press backspace twice to delete the first 00 segment, then type in 0 and 1)

If you require any further information: https://wink.messengergeek.com/t/tutorial-linux-windows-live-messenger-installation-on-debian-linux-with-youtube-video/7328