Microsoft Messenger – without using Microsoft Software

Posted on Tuesday 13 January 2009

So I have been making great progress moving over to Linux, my printers are printing.  My scanners are scanning, my email is emailing and of course my share files are sharing! However there was one area that I was having a little problem with – Microsoft Live Messenger (or MSN Chat if you prefer)!

There are of course tons of chat programs out for Linux, of pretty well any flavour and/or function that you could think of. However I wanted something that was graphically pleasing and something that would let me chat ( and possibly do more than that ) with all my friends and family that are already using, which of course is Messenger!

Well my first attempt came with high expectation. Many users raved about it and were happy with its performance – Pidgin Internet Messenger. It’s designed to work and talk with about every chat service that is out there today. It even listed MSN as well…. Alas after fighting with it for a while and eventually finding supporting information – I discovered that it doesn’t always play well with Microsoft. It does work initially, but then Microsoft Live shuts down the connection shortly there after…

So, the search was on, and I actually came across a little gem of a program called aMSN. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac’s. What a brilliant idea. Plus it cam accept numerous plugins which gives it the same and MORE functionality than the original Microsoft Product! WOW! Check out their website here –

Installation was pretty straightforward ( it was available through my Ubuntu release sites . ) However I did have some issue with the configuration of the plugin that allows winks ( those flash animations that are cute to use to get a point across. )

Installing the plugins weren’t a probem as they have a simple and straightforward installation document for that. The problem was with the README file that comes with the plugin. It tells you how to configure your flash plugin, but does not specifically tell you how to get to the configuration window (they obviously assume that you are already familiar with the whole concept. ) I found this true even in their support forum – whenever someone asked for help on this issue all they kept doing was telling people to read their README file found here…sigh…

The trick to properly configure the Winks plugin is as follow:

  • Install the Winks plugin as per the installation guides
  • Once installed open up aMSN
  • Click on Account on the Menu on the Top Bar
  • Click on Select Plugins on the drop-down menu from Account (this will open a new window)
  • Click on the Winks Plugin
  • Click on the Configure button on the bottom right hand side (this will open another window)
  • Configure your plugin appropriately
  • NOTE: If you are going to enter the “-1” in the SWF Player Arguments window DO NOT include the quotes just enter in the -1
  • Once you have configured the plugin make sure you click on the Load button to Load it
  • The Winks Plugin contains no actual winks you have to acquire those separately either by downloading or saving winks that friends have sent you
  • Also, once you get the Winks working you can save, send and of course receive a Wink from anyone – but the wink will pop up in a separate window instead of over top of what you are doing ( not a big deal for me – but who knows… there apparently is a way to do it within aMSN but it’s not worth my energy to figure it out )

Once aMSN was configured with the appropriate plugins I signed into my MSN Live account and all my contacts appeared magically and immediately everything felt and worked as if I’d never left my Windows environment – although better ( since it’s actually on a Linux Platform. )

aMSN is a great product now, it’s free, and everyone should be using it – even Windows users. It’s only going to get better!

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