Looking at the past – a vision for Messenger four years ago

Looking through my files today, I came across a set of “MSN Wave 11” (v7) concept images that were released back in December 2004, when Windows Live wasn’t even around yet (according to Wikipedia, Windows Live was first announced on November 11, 2005). That was almost four years ago, when MSN Messenger 6 just got released into final. Nevertheless, it surprised me how similar looking the concept was compared to what we have now in Messenger Wave 3. Digging through Live Search archives, here’s what was said about the vision for the future of (MSN) Messenger/Hotmail/Spaces:

The key parts of MSN Wave 11 are:
• Me (My Identity)    [Windows Live Profile?]
• My Relationships (My Social Network)     [Windows Live People?]
• Catch up     [Windows Live Home, What’s New feed?]
• Publish & Archive     [Windows Live Spaces?]
• Communicate     [Windows Live Messenger]
• E-mail, IM, & SMS    [Windows Live Hotmail]
• Voice & Video    [Windows Live Messenger, Call]
• Share     [Windows Live SkyDrive, Photos?]
• Fun (Play Together)    [Windows Live Groups?]

MSN Spaces – MSN are planning to create "Group Spaces", although like the recently launched Blogging service these will allow you to create a place to share ideas, to do lists, notes, calendars, etc. with your family and friends. On the IM side of things, Messenger is likely to integrate by allowing people to create a group of friends, with the possible addition of "Circles" in MSN Messenger. Although in very early stages of development it’s likely "Circles" will integrate fully with MSN Group Spaces.

MSN Hotmail – Although there are little details on how the new wave will effect Hotmail, it’s likely that the tight integration of MSN Group Spaces will change Hotmail’s current contact features.

MSN Messenger – The Messenger main window is due to take on a Client dashboard paradigm with…user-customizable layout and multiple bar parts available. Other additions include RSS/Subscription info, file sharing info [of contacts]…

Sounds interestingly familiar? Wait until you see the comparison of the main contact list window from Windows Live Messenger (Wave 3) and the prototype concept image of “MSN Wave 11” created four years ago:

comparison_thumb_68148196 News

Coincidence? I think not. What you see in Wave 3 was not something that came out of the blue. As mentioned in the interview with the Messenger team previously, some of the new features we see in Messenger Wave 3 took years of planning to finally get into this release. Well, it seems like it took Microsoft a good four years to finally transform this “vision” into real products. At least we could say that they’ve been sticking to their plan pretty well all these years!