Being one of the most widely used IM applications, MSN Messenger has always had a large base of users keen on developing plugins with which they could personalize their favorite chat client. Amateur programmers released plugins to discover who had erased you from their contact list, to start more than one MSN session, to log conversations… until MSN Plus! was launched.
MSN Plus! soon became the most popular MSN plug-in, collecting together all the extra options users could ask for into one program. Even now Plus! is still an excellent pack of tools which heavy Messenger users consider as essential and which certainly improves your IM experience. During all these years it has been able to adapt to every new Messenger version, including the name change and the new interface design. In fact, Plus! is now seamlessly integrated into Live Messenger: it launches with the program and the only way you can tell it’s there it by two tiny buttons on the main interface.
When Plus! was launched, its main feature was the ability to record “chat logs”, that is, create text files with all your conversations. However, as this has been already included in the IM app itself, Plus! has had to widen its range of extra functions. These tools can be divided into two groups: those dedicated to chatting improvement and those devoted to contact management. As for the first group, you’ll enjoy tabbed chat windows, support for custom text format (bold, italics, font, color) and the so-called quick messages, personal keyboard shortcuts you can assign to sentences or expressions used on a regular basis. The second group of tools allows you to create custom status messages, have your favourite contacts right on the Windows desktop (as an icon) and gather all kinds of stats about contacts, like the last time they logged on or whether they have recently changed their nickname, which I personally find kind of excessive, but hey, to each his own.
Besides all this, Live Messenger Plus! still offers its popular chat log tool, which is said to be more powerful and flexible than the default function featured in Windows Messenger Live. Actually, it looks much better thanks to the use of HTML, the ability to record emoticons and winks and the possibility to customize its appearance with CSS formatting.
The list of improvements Plus! brings to Windows Live Messenger doesn’t end here. You can, for example, hide the application in the system tray under an almost invisible icon (in case you’re chatting at work, something we completely disapprove of) or password protect access to the program, amongst others. The good thing though is that you can create your own extra functions, that is, if you know how to code scripts. Plus! already features a nice bunch of them, allowing you to display the name of the song you’re listening to, send screenshots, use sticky notes and other nice extras.
All in all, Live Messenger Plus! is probably the only plug-in you’ll ever need, especially if you like customizing every single detail of your Messenger.