Main/News > Q&A Session with Raja Abburi (you are here)

Q&A Session with Raja Abburi, director of MSN Messenger

October 16th at 12 AM CET. I had the honour to join a Microsoft TechNet chat event with MSN Messenger Director, Raja Abburi. An excellent opportunity for me to ask him about the most desired features you guys have been e-mailing me about. My general conclusion was that the MSN Messenger team is spending too little time on ;) No, really, some suggestions really familiar to me were welcomed by Mr. Abburi like it was the first time he heard about them. But Mr. Abburi is a very nice person (so is Jonathan Kay;)) and if the development team is going to take all suggestions into consideration, the future of MSN Messenger looks very bright!

You can read the re-organised chat transcript below. Questions (by Messenger geeks like me) and Answers (by Raja Abburi) are not ordered chronologically but according to the topic.

:: MSN Messenger on the Web ::

Q: Is there / will there be a messenger client that runs in a web browser (activeX or Java)?
A: Good idea... We are looking into it.

Q: Will webmasters be able to integrate a visitor's contact list on their website again? It used to be possible and was very interesting for a "Tell a friend" option.
A: Good suggestion.Thx.

Q: The know issues list hasn't been changed since June 11 and even when it was being updated it was very unclear as to when or in what update a fix had been provided.
A: Will look into it. Thanks.

:: The Eternal Wish List ::

Q: 150 contacts isn't that much for a World Wide environment. I would like to see this limit increase.
A: We are hearing this loud and clear, and will get on it.

Q: Is it possible to edit the Status phrases?
A: Good idea, we are looking into it.

Q: Could the "invite someone to this conversation" link offer all contacts.. including contacts already part of the conversation.. sometimes people get disconnected and need to be re-invited.
A: Good point.. Are people getting disconnected because of ISPs or because of Messenger? Thanks

Q: Can we please have the oppertunity to edit peoples screen names locally, so when people ahve a paragraph for their screen name we can edit it
A: Good point... Some of us in the team are also irked by a few people changing their friendly names, way too frequently every day

Q: I would like to be able to add Contacts from my Outlook/Exchange Contacts list.
A: Good suggestion. Thx

Q: Can Messenger be used inside of other apps -- like to provide a chat system for a game?
A: API support for client is very limited today.

Q: Now that the financial world is backing IM up, what about interoperability between AIM, MSN, ICQ & Yahoo? Which cross-over is most likely?
A: Good point.. This is not completely up to us.

Q: Is there a way to remove all the "Start ... app now" - after installing many games, my list is saturated -- i'd like to control it.
A: Good suggestion, we are looking into making this more manageable

Q: I'd definately like to limit who employees can message --- sometimes we have customers using messenger, and thats good. but, they they add many personal contacts and thats bad....
A: Got it. thx.

Q: Could you add an option to disable some smilies, sometimes it's very annoying (like when pasting code)?
A: Good point.

Q: Other IM clients usually offer a lot of "skinning" possibilities. MSN Messenger only allows you to change the sounds and background. Will there be any extended personalisation options in the future?
A: Good suggestion. Looking into it.

Q: Stop Alerts appearing when you are running a fullscreen DX game
A: Agreed...I thought this works for quite a few games already, doesn't it?

Q: Why hasn't an automatic message history found its way into the product yet, similar to what ICQ has? I realize that 3rd-party tools exist, but still. Something more than plain text-file logging would be a plus (again, like ICQ).
A: Good point... Thx.

Q: Ability to send messages via messenger when remote user is offline. They will then appear when they sign in.
A: Good point. Thx.

:: Integrate What We Already Have ::

Q: When will see native automatic message loggin in the Messenger client? (eg no requirement for addtional server software)
A: Another good idea. Looking into it.

Q: and what about two simultaneous logins on one computer with two ID's?
A: Interesting..

Q: will there be an increase on the maximum number of people in one chat. Right now I believe it's limited at 5 people but for families spread apart this isn't enough
A: Good point. Thanks.

Q: Can I be able to send one message to all contacts at one time?
A: Good suggestion...

Q: Encryption. Well, I'd like to be able to have a direct session between someone, and have the encryption settings be controllable (limit which algorithms, strengths, etc)
A: Got it.... Controllable algorithm.. would you want only the strongest ones, or have a choice?

Q: What about the option to block ENTIRE groups?
A: good point.

Q: Will future versions of Messenger allow me to log in so only certain groups of people can "see" me? Instead of blocking individual contacts
A: Good suggestion... Looking into it. thx.

:: File Transfers & Connectivity ::

Q: Can we have more information about a transfer as it progresses? (speed, bytes etc)
A: Good idea... In this day and age, I guessthis is needed for transferring large files on narrowband.

Q: Can we have resumable file transfers?
A: Good idea... It can be painful if your connection is dropped partway through the file transfer, right?

Q: Messenger really doesn't cope well with dropped connections
A: We are hearing this loud and clear... on it. Thx.

Q: I have many times when messenger just quits -- and my connection to the net is still active.
A: We take this seriously... We are working hard on preventing this... Is your ISP connection still active? Also, is it the connection window or the main window?

Q: Why is messenger so unreliable when sending messages? Sometimes they dont get through, yet there is no indication from messenger that this is the case
A: Sorry to hear this. We are trying hard to improve the situation here...

Q: What I really want to know is what are you guys going to do about NAT issues with messenger when you operate it behind a firewall - Messenger picks up the local private IP and is unable to route incoming requests to internal addresses.
A: This is a big priority for us... As you know, this is a little hard to solve it well and we are on it.

:: Conferencing ::

Q: with the resolution people use in today's PCs, the video window is quite small -- how about a zoom option?
A: Good point. Thanks.

Q: Can we expect interop between XP and non-XP client for video conf.?
A: Good suggestion. Thx.

:: Trivia ::

Q: How is messenger going to cope with tabletPC and digital ink
A: Good point... A lot of internal Microsoft folks are big fans of this request as well

Q: Why cant we send SMS from Messenger when we are in the UK? Why US only?
A: Good point. Thx.

Q: how many developers are on the MSN Messenger team?
A: Fewer than you'd think

Q: Can you tell us, a select few of Messenger ADDICTS, about an Easter Egg in the new MSN 5.0?
A: Easter eggs... don't know of any

Q: I found it odd that there isn't ONE Messenger product as of v5.0, but rather two. The press quote I read had a MS rep exclaiming that yes, XP users can run both(!), as if this is something anyone would want to do. How about ONE client that has it all?
A: Sorry this is a little confusing, one is geared towards intra-corporate use, but for the bulk of the users, either one should be fine.


:: And to finish... just plain LOL stuff ::

Q: is there any chance that the silly banned word list for user names will go away?
A: We'll look into it... Any particular silly word that annoys you more than the others ?-)

Q: What does the MSN Messenger team think of MESS WITH MSN MESSENGER. A site that invites people to actually TWEAK the software?
A: Not familiar with this particular site, there are a few sites that don't necessarily help our customers.


I rest my case,


One last quick summary of noted suggestions:

- web-based MSN Messenger client
- integration of visitor's contact list on webpage (again)
- over 150 contacts
- custom status phrases
- edit screen names locally
- manage external application launching
- disabling specific smilies
- skin support
- conversation history (cf ICQ)
- answering machine when user is offline (cf ICQ)
- polygamy
- more people in group convo
- mass messaging (broadcasting)
- encryption
- entire group blocking
- advanced appear offline
- more transfer info
- resumable transfers
- better connectivity and firewall support overall
- larger video conferencing + between XP and non-XP