Discontinued Microsoft Communications Software

So Many Ways to Stay In Touch

What follows is a list of all deprecated Microsoft communications software -- essentially, any applications that allowed you to connect with other human beings.

A lot of research went into creating this catalog, but as you can imagine, information can be hard to find about many of Microsoft's applications from the early days. Please contact us if you have more items to add to the list, or discover inaccuracies. Thanks!

This article is part of a series. Return home to all discontinued Microsoft products.

Last updated November 8, 2019.

Microsoft V-Chat (1995)

Lifespan: 1 year
V-Chat was a graphical chat client that attempted to immerse users into creative 2D and 3D worlds. Users chose avatars to represent themselves. The product was short-lived and meant to progress to Microsoft's more abitious V-Worlds project, which itself was cancelled and never came to fruition.

Microsoft V-Chat Interface (1995)

Microsoft V-Chat Interface (1995)
Source: timigi.com

Microsoft Cardfile (1985-1995)

Lifespan: 10 years
Cardfile was a digital Rolodex of sorts. Virtual index cards made up the user interface of this simple app which allowed you to store information about contacts. While not really a communication app, it did allow you to "autodial" the phone number of your contacts, and that's why it's in this list of deprecated communications Microsoft products. (It also doesn't really fit well anywhere else, unfortunately!)

Microsoft Cardfile on Windows 3.1 (1992)

Microsoft Cardfile on Windows 3.1 (1992)
Source: Version Museum

Microsoft Comic Chat (1996-1999)

Lifespan: 3 years
Comic Chat was a product that came out of the Microsoft Research Virtual Worlds team (itself also cancelled, as far as we can tell). An IRC chat client at the core, it utilized an elaborate graphic environment with creative characters and scenery in the background to convey messages.

Microsoft Comic Chat Interface (1996)

Microsoft Comic Chat Interface (1996)
Source: visualizepicture.com

Microsoft Comic Chat Interface (1996)

Microsoft Comic Chat Interface (1996)
Source: digitalspace.com

Microsoft Personal Web Server (1995-2000)

Lifespan: 5 years
If Microsoft IIS is a Rolls Royce Phantom, then Personal Web Server was a Ford Focus. (Better analogies are welcome). PWS ran on Windows 95, 98, and NT 4.0.

Microsoft Personal Web Server Admin Interface (1998)

Microsoft Personal Web Server Admin Interface (1998)
Source: windowsnetworking.com

Microsoft Outlook Express (1996-2001)

Lifespan: 5 years
Outlook Express was a free entry-level mail client that basically did one job and did it well. It also had Usenet newsreading capability. It was simple to use, efficient, and uncomplicated. And therefore it had no chance of long term survival at the software behemoth.

The affection for Outlook Express was so great that there are third-party apps that try to recreate the experience, such as OE Classic.

Microsoft Outlook Express 6 About Screen (2000)

Microsoft Outlook Express 6 About Screen (2000)
Source: windowsreport.com

Microsoft NetMeeting (1996-2007)

Lifespan: 11 years
NetMeeting was an early consumer internet videoconferencing app that came installed with Internet Explorer 3.

NetMeeting on Windows XP (Left) and Windows 2000 (Right) (2003)

NetMeeting on Windows XP (Left) and Windows 2000 (Right) (2003)
Source: wikipedia.org

Windows Messenger Service (2000-2008)

Lifespan: 8 years
The Messenger Service was a system service that came packaged with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It allowed users to send and receive messages if they were on the same LAN via a popup dialog box. The downside was that it ended up being abused for spam purposes. This is why we can never have nice things.

Windows Messenger Service (2001)

Windows Messenger Service (2001)
Source: rpi.edu

Microsoft Entourage (2000-2008)

Lifespan: 8 years
Entourage was a rare Microsoft product in that it was developed exclusively for the Mac. Entourage was the Swiss Army Knife of applications, offering an email client, address book, calendar, note taking app, task list, and project organizer all in one. At the end of its run, it was replaced by Outlook for Mac 2011. However, Outlook lacked the full breadth of Entourage functionality.

Microsoft Entourage (2008)

Microsoft Entourage (2008)
Source: file-extensions.org

Windows Meeting Space (2006-2009)

Lifespan: 3 years
Meeting Space was a watered-down version of Windows NetMeeting. Unlike NetMeeting, users couldn't begin audio or video conferences, due to the fact that it lacked microphone support. That seems somewhat important for a product with the word meeting in the title. But who are we to judge.

Windows Meeting Space Interface on Windows Vista (2006)

Windows Meeting Space Interface on Windows Vista (2006)
Source: kaypu.com

Microsoft Voice Command (2003-2009)

Lifespan: 6 years
Voice Command was software that allowed old Windows Mobile handsets in the mid-2000s to be controlled by the user's voice.

Microsoft Voice Command Box Covers (2006)

Microsoft Voice Command Box Covers (2006)
Source: amazon.com

Microsoft Office Live Meeting (2007-2011)

Lifespan: 4 years
Office Live Meeting was one of Microsoft's dizzying array of video conferencing solutions.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting Interface(2007)

Microsoft Office Live Meeting Interface(2007)
Source: scissormonkey.wordpress.com

MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger (1999-2012)

Lifespan: 13 years
MSN Messenger launched in 1999 and became one of the most popular IM clients on the planet, with over 300 million monthly users in 2009. Messenger was not only translated into 50 languages, but it was available for practically every popular consumer operating system in use. The name was changed from MSN Messenger to Windows Live Messenger in 2005 when the "Live" branding virus spread through practically every Microsoft service like wildfire. (It was later dropped starting in 2012.)

Messenger was a lot more than just an IM service. It had games and apps too. Go ahead and check out the Wikipedia entry linked above; there were a lot of moving parts in this thing.

MSN Messenger Client on Windows 98 (2000)

MSN Messenger Client on Windows 98 (2000)
Source: theverge.com

Windows Live Messenger Clients (2012)

Windows Live Messenger Clients (2012)
Source: youtube.com

Microsoft SharedView (2007-2012)

Lifespan: 5 years
SharedView began life with the codename Tahiti. Snappy codenames are an important aspect of the product lifecycle in big tech companies. When in meetings, presentations, and with colleagues, saying Project Tahiti is much easier than "the lightweight screen sharing remote desktop collaboration tool for Windows Live."

Plus, officially naming products in big companies takes a long time. The marketing team needs to extract their pound of flesh, doing market analysis, trademark searches, customer studies, and all that tomfoolery. The engineers building new products may not know the official name of the thing they're working on until it's close to launching. And often the marketing team has their hands tied on what vocabulary they can use, especially in a huge enterprise like Microsoft that has so many internally competitive orgs, and that has used so many product names already. And even something inconsequential to the end user like the fact that SharedView is one word instead of two probably involved weeks of discussion internally.

In any case, SharedView was shut down around its 5th birthday.

Microsoft SharedView (2007)

Microsoft SharedView (2007)
Source: chrissemke.wordpress.com

Windows Live Mail (2007-2014)

Lifespan: 7 years
Live Mail was similar to Outlook Express in that it was a free lightweight email client. The most recent version is Live Mail 2012, which was updated in 2014. It came with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

Windows Live Mail 2012 Client (2012)

Windows Live Mail 2012 Client (2012)
Source: mspoweruser.com

Internet Explorer Mobile (1996-2014)

Lifespan: 18 years
IE Mobile was the browser of Microsoft's ill-fated mobile operating systems. It was originally named Pocket Internet Explorer from 1996 to 2008. Check out our full article on the visual history of Internet Explorer for a deep dive on the desktop version.

Internet Explorer Mobile (2009)

Internet Explorer Mobile (2009)
Source: codeproject.com

Windows Essentials (2006-2014)

Lifespan: 8 years
Essentials wasn't just a communications app but a full bundle of programs including Windows Live Mail, OneDrive/SkyDrive, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Live Writer, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Family Safety.

Windows Essentials 2012 Installer (2012)

Windows Essentials 2012 Installer (2012)
Source: softwarepunk.blogspot.com

Microsoft HelpBridge (2013-2014)

Lifespan: 1 year
Microsoft described HelpBridge as a mobile app "to help friends and family stay connected in the wake of natural disasters. It also provides an easy way for survivors to donate money or supplies, or roll up their sleeves to help out." There were versions available for Windows Phone, iOS and Android. More on the app from The Verge.

Microsoft HelpBridge App Screenshots (2013)

Microsoft HelpBridge App Screenshots (2013)
Source: windowscentral.com

Microsoft Internet Explorer (1995-2015)

Lifespan: 20 years
We covered the design evolution of Internet Explorer extensively in another article on Version Museum.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 1.0 MSN Welcome Screen (1995)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 1.0 MSN Welcome Screen (1995)
Source: wordpress.com

Skype Qik (2014-2016)

Lifespan: 2 years
Skype Qik was a multi-platform videoconferencing app Microsoft acquired when they purchased Skype in 2011. Qik itself was an acquisition by Skype in 2011. Qik's app originally went live in 2008. Microsoft shuttered it in 2016.

Skype Qik Interface Screens (2014)

Skype Qik Interface Screens (2014)
Source: drippler.com

Microsoft Agent (1997-2018)

Lifespan: 21 years
This is one of those products that is difficult to classify. MS Agent was a platform that allowed the creation of animated characters to assist with various actions in applications. Think Clippy. Honestly, this probably should be in our list of deprecated Microsoft developer products. Just give us a pass on this one?

Agent was included with Winddows 98 until Windows Vista.

Microsoft Agent Website (2007)

Microsoft Agent Website (2007)
Source: file-extensions.org

Microsoft Agent Characters (2018)

Microsoft Agent Characters (2018)
Source: fandom.com

Outlook Groups App (2015-2018)

Lifespan: 3 years
Outlook Groups was cross-platform mobile app that allowed Office 365 users to create private and public groups in Outlook and access shared conversations, events, inboxes, cloud storage, and calendars.

Outlook Groups App For Windows Phone (2015)

Outlook Groups App For Windows Phone (2015)
Source: windowscentral.com

Microsoft Teams Progressive Web App (2017-2018)

Lifespan: 1 year
In 2017, Microsoft announced they were releasing a progressive web app version of their Teams software.

Unfortunately they pulled the plug shortly after launching it, leaving the desktop version as the only option.

Microsoft Teams Interface (2018)

Microsoft Teams Interface (2018)
Source: windowscentral.com

Skype for Business Online (2014-2021)

Lifespan: 7 years
Skype seems to be getting phased out at Microsoft for business use in favor of Teams. The company announced it will be shutting down the service in 2021.

Skype for Business Online (2018)

Skype for Business Online (2018)
Source: zdnet.com

Next: See the design history of Microsoft Word, Windows, and Microsoft.com!

See our design evolution of Microsoft Word starting in 1984.

Also, check out our article on the visual design history of Microsoft Windows which launched in 1985.

Finally, if you really like this stuff, why not see what the Microsoft.com website looked like from 1994 to today?

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