Windows Live Messenger Shows Contacts as Offline When They Are Really Online and You Cannot Send Offline Instant Messages to those Contacts

Recently I discovered a strange phenomenon under Windows Live Messenger 2011 (and it apparently also affects Windows Live Messenger 2010 as well). Some of your contacts will always be shown as being in “Offline” status when they are actually online (they show up as Online in other Messenger clients). You can receive instant messages from them, and messages sent to them from other clients also show up in the instant message windows of Windows Live Messenger 2011. When you attempt to send them an offline instant message, it reports: “The following message could not be delivered to all recipients”, and fails to send it it.

My wife is usually logged into a Windows Live Messenger instance through her cell phone carrier, and I often use Windows Live Messenger to send messages to her cell phone. For the past week or so my copy of Windows Live has shown her as Offline and failed to send her offline instant messages, which I initially thought to be a problem with her cell phone carrier’s system. When I started receiving messages from her which I could not reply to, I opened up Windows Live Web Messenger and verified that she was actually online the whole time. Web Messenger could also send her instant messages, which oddly enough would show up in the Windows Live Messenger 2011 instant message window.

I suspect that it is most likely a problem between the Windows Live servers and different versions of the Messenger protocol.

In the case of my wife’s account, I think her cell phone carrier’s software is using the old Messenger protocol, and it is somehow not being properly linked to the Windows Live servers (and ultimately clients) using the new protocol. Windows Live Web Messenger probably uses the old protocol.

The only solution seems to be to use a client which uses the older Messenger protocol.

You can use Windows Live Web Messenger which has no problems. The online version of Windows Live Messenger which is integrated into Windows Hotmail doesn’t work as it seems to (at least on my system). You can install Windows Messenger alongside MSN/Windows Live Messenger. It is lacking a lot of features and doesn’t always work well…but it is handy for situations where MSN/Windows Live Messenger is not working. You can download Windows Messenger 5.1.0701 here. To install it under Windows Vista or Windows 7 you will need to use a workaround or disable UAC to get the messenger.msi file to install correctly.


3 Responses to Windows Live Messenger Shows Contacts as Offline When They Are Really Online and You Cannot Send Offline Instant Messages to those Contacts

  1. Mike says:

    hi there,
    i`ve read your post because i had the same problem… i`ve donwloaded the messenger 5.1.xxxx but i have not installed this one.
    i`ve tried this first:
    Close Windows Live Messenger
    Locate the folder:

    * Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft
    * Windows Vista and Windows 7: C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft

    Locate and delete or rename Windows Live folder

    i`ve deleted the folder and after that i`ve open the wlm and test it. the offline contact became online and i can chat with them
    maybe this will help you or others with the same problem.

  2. Thanks Mike! When I was beta testing the earlier versions of Windows Live Messenger that was a solution which the Windows Live team would recommend for fixing many issues. I had completely forgotten about that!

  3. Jan says:

    Thank you Mike, I started to have the same problem myself and your solution worked perfectly. For me there was no difference between the versions that people use, every contact was shown offline even though I’m using the newest version and I know my contacts use it too. I also couldn’t send or receive any offline messages, which was of course quite awkward since everyone of my contacts were shown as offline.

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