Patchou's Cabana

The home page and blog of Cyril Paciullo

Welcome to the world of Beta

There are some things in this world that you can always count on to be true: summer comes after spring, rain after the sun, and people request intermediate versions of Messenger Plus! as soon as a beta version of a new Messenger is available. Invariably, negative answers trigger “but whhhhhhhy?!” comments, everybody gets used to the idea, Messenger Plus! gets updated along with the final release of Messenger and life goes on.

Today, something happened that will help shed some light on my no-beta-support policy. As some of you already know, Microsoft recently released a beta version of Windows Live Messenger “Wave 4″. This updated version of Messenger includes new social features, options like tabbed chats, noticebly larger advertisements, etc… Microsoft also modified their setup program, that same setup I downloaded this morning and ran on my computer.

After a quick installation, I was invited to restart my computer, which I did, promptly. This is where things started to get interesting to say the least. After the reboot, I was greeted by brand new error messages I had never seen before in Windows, one in particular saying that my profile, now located in “system32\config\systemprofile”, was not available. Basically, my whole user profile was gone, my desktop empty, the taskbar displayed default blank icons for my old shortcuts and none of my programs remembered who I was. Messenger’s new signin screen was nagging me, coming back after I closed it, and many of the things I tried to do in Windows while trying to figure out what happened displayed error messages. In user terms, my computer was completely “broken”.

After searching a bit about this issue on the web, the only thing I was able to find was posts confirming that this kind of error occurs when a user profile has been badly corrupted in the system and that, in such cases, there’s generally nothing to do but create a brand new profile. For all the tech geeks reading this, yes, I checked the user profile keys in the registry, I tried to clear up the default system profile, etc… I also don’t have anything out of the ordinary running on my station, no shell replacement software, no theming program, no nothing: just Windows 7, Office 2010, Visual Studio and a couple of work tools. I don’t even play games on that system.

Out of despair, I tried System Restore and I have to say it performed admirably. It finally reverted all the changes that the new Windows Live setup had done to my system and restored my user profile to a functionning state. I’ll definitively have to remember to rely more on this feature in the future. In any case, as I refused to admit defeat, I prepped my computer for another try. I erased all the files and settings of my existing version of Messenger (the current public release), did a clean reboot, re-downloaded the setup of the beta version and tried again. Guess what: after the restart, the same error occured, my profile was corrupted again and my computer was back to stone age.

Now, I hope you understand why supporting a beta may not be a good idea. As for Microsoft’s work on this new Messenger, I can say I’m not impressed, at all. I’ve never seen a program cause so many issues on my system and I certainely don’t expect that from an instant-messaging application. Beta or not, I assume that when Microsoft releases something to the public, it’s not going to cause mayhem. I don’t know what that new Messenger is trying to do on our systems but in my view, it’s wrong and uncalled for. Here’s a recommendation for everybody who’s reading this post is: stay away from Messenger beta versions, I certainely will.

11 Responses to “Welcome to the world of Beta”


  1. Mathieu M-Gosselin says:

    Not cool.

    Not only do I stay away from Messenger beta versions, but I’m still running on WLM 8.5! :D Luckily, my favorite Messenger add-on still supports it. ;)

    Also, I’ve never tried to do a System restore (nor have I ever formatted my computer when it wouldn’t boot, even though it happened countless of times!) probably because I don’t trust it. In this case it’s sure you didn’t have much of a choice, since your profile was essentially gone!

  2. Damnnnnnnnn! Thanks god that didn’t happened to me…. I could kill myself! :(

  3. Seriously, that installer is worse than a virus! :O

    Compared to your tragedies, I got pretty lucky with the beta installer. Downloaded, ran the setup, first time just randomly crashed halfway. Killed the process, tried again and it worked. Couldn’t care about restarting my computer so I simply exited the setup and started Messenger. Quickly I found I didn’t like it at all so I promptly uninstalled it again and put WLM 2009 back up.

    I wonder what would have happened if I actually restarted my computer after the installer. Not that I’m going to try it though, I don’t want to go through all kinds of system restore and reformats. Microsoft clearly made some big mistakes with this beta release, I hope they fix those issues or just take the beta down to protect their users.

    Aside from the technical novelties, the “intended” changes aren’t too great either. It looks like they removed more features than they added. Social network integration is only half-done (Facebook Chat was too much asked?) and I’d like to choose my display name myself, thank you.

    For the time being, I prefer the stable version from last year. :)

  4. StrikerMan780 says:

    Seems like an isolated incident. Maybe something else was messed up, without your knowledge, and the installer exacerbated the problem and triggered that to happen? The installer comes with a System Update, a DX10 installer, among other things.

    Perhaps you could find out what all comes in the Windows Live Beta Installer, and installing those things separately, possibly helping to discover what is triggering you to lose your profile?

  5. Guido says:

    In my case, the setup worked (after a few failed attempts), but Messenger, afterwards, behaves extremely uglily:

    -Messenger can’t be left in the background: if you close the contact list window, you close Messenger and you get logged out (???)

    -you can’t run the EXE any more: it returns an error about a missing DLL. It only works via the start menu shortcut the installer creates

    Mainly due to the 1st issue, i’m looking to replace Messenger with the old version but leave the rest of Essentials at wave 4, as it looks relatively promising.

  6. Daniel says:

    The setup problem seems to be really isolated indeed, yours is the only incident report I found doing a quick websearch. I also don’t have any of Guido’s problems. Can run the EXE, and closing the contact list just minimizes to systray and, finally, for people who have it docked like me, responds sensibly to mouse-overs, even with buttons for quick status change.

    Also, my ads are no bigger than before. Apart from the sleek new design though I agree that the changes are pretty insignificant. Integrating Facebook is pretty pointless if you’re not going to integrate Facebook Chat (might be a technical issue though, I don’t know how Facebook’s chat is implemented).

  7. Mattisdada says:

    Fairly minor issue with the installer setting incorrect permissions with certain files (ie, desktop.ini, being set to read only). Then trying to delete/modify them.

    I myself have done this when building some installers using Installsheild/Installaware…. Minor issue, that apparently caused some big issues for you….

  8. Imad says:

    I had no problems at all, its running perfectly

  9. Quamer says:

    That is the risk of beta. They are test program and never must be used in production machine. :)

    It’s really weird your problem. Well I’d made an update and not a clean installation of Wave 4. May be there are may bugs in a clean install. I don’t know I’m guessing.

    Thank you for your effort to try support the new beta program, but sometimes the “world” doesn’t want it.

    A big hug.
    Quamer.

  10. UCLA says:

    well ,, I have installed the 2010 beta on top of my wlm14 and it works .. didnt really face any issues… but to tell u the truth i dont like it any better than i liked the msn 9 version..

    i tried to re-install 8-5 wont let me .. so for those who are still running the 8-5 version hang on to it as long as you can :)


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  1. Windows Live Messenger 2010 Beta review - Menthix.net 01 07 10


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