Windows Live Messenger errorNovember 15, 2010
For the past two days, I’ve had a ‘You can still chat, but some features might not be available because of a connection problem’ pink error message on Windows Live Messenger (I’m using version 2009, build 14.0.8089.726 in case it matters).
Everything else I do on the internet appears to be working fine, so this message made me curious. What features? What connection problem? ‘Might not be available’ — or might be? What’s gone wrong?
Well, there’s not a lot that came up on a Google search for this one, but all the search results I got were from the past few days and all say that Microsoft has disabled clickable links in Live Messenger 2009 because of some malicious worm (or similar).
But why on earth doesn’t the error message say that it’s the links that are disabled? Why make users worry about their internet connection when a clear statement of the issue could put their minds to rest? Live Messenger is not some obscure, niche software used only by a few — it’s used by millions of ordinary people around the world, many of whom might get anxious when reading this message.
How to fix this message? Reword it so that it states clearly and simply what the problem is. For example:
You can still chat, but we’ve disabled ‘live’ links for a while — you won’t be able to click a link to go directly to the web page.
I’m sure my wording could be improved, but at least it tells the user where the issue lies (unlike the generic ‘some features’, ‘might not’, and ‘a connection problem’ of the original error message).
PLEASE NOTE: I do not work for Microsoft and I don’t know how to contact anyone there. I don’t know when this issue will be fixed, and I have no control over any of it. All I wanted to do in this post was highlight an error message that told you nothing and offer suggestions to software developers as to how a meaningless error message — such as this one from Microsoft — could be improved. So please don’t ask me how to get rid of the pink message — I don’t know how, but I assume that when Microsoft fixes it AND you install the relevant update, the message will go. And no, I don’t know when the update is coming out.
Update 2 December 2010: When I turned on my computer this morning and connected to Live Messenger, the pink message had gone! I don’t know if links now work or not (I haven’t tested them yet), but the message is gone.
Update 3 December 2010: It’s back :-(