Based on this encounter with Microsoft employees pushing the new version of Windows/MSN Messenger, now named Windows Live Messenger, one can deduce that an IM standoff is coming between Windows users, and everyone else. The protocol is being changed, and apparently will not be available to Mac OSX and Linux users. That means if you currently have friends on the other side of the fence, at some point in the near future (either when you consciously switch clients, or Microsoft force-upgrades everyone’s accounts), you’re not going to be able to talk to them on MSN.
And pity the poor PC/Windows fools who will use it, as it sounds like absolute hell. Loads of advertisements that can’t be turned off, bombarding you with audio and video that will use up all your free bandwidth, and no plugin architecture for 3rd-party extension.
Vote with your feet. Now is the time to move to open-protocol systems like Google’s GTalk, which utilizes Jabber, accessible to everyone and ad-free to boot. If you have a Gmail account, you’ve already got it. If you’re a PC user and want to be able to talk to your friends without the Gmail page open, download the Google Talk program here. If you’re on another Operating System, this page should help.
I always knew MSN would be going down one day, and surprise surprise, it looks like Microsoft will be the one to help it along.