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MSN Groups was a website part of the MSN network which hosted online communities, and which contained Web pages, hosted images, and contained a message board. MSN Groups was shut down on February 21, 2009, as part of a migration of online applications and services to the Windows Live brand. Windows Live Groups, a part of the Windows Live branding, was never marketed as, or intended to be a replacement for, MSN Groups.
Since 1995, there were various communities on MSN, all run by MSN, featuring real newsgroups and IRC chat rooms. They were not easily updatable as only MSN Communities staff members could update the one page that each "community" had. There was one for every generic interest. Around 1998–99, MSN created the home pages, which were real Web sites much like Tripod or GeoCities. These had no message boards or chat rooms attached. MSN did away with these home pages around 2001–02, not too long after they introduced the Custom Pages and File cab (later referred to as Documents) in MSN Communities, which were later called Groups.
Besides the general content and community that many of these groups provided, they would compete for the top ten rankings. Some of the largest groups in the site, often rising to the number 1 spot, included Debate, Critical Thinking and Philosophy, The Meaning of Life, ChristianTeen777, and Community Feedback for Dummies.
The "make your own group" feature came along in summer of 1999, when MSN did away with the real newsgroups IRC chat rooms. Message boards, chat rooms, one customizable home page and photo albums were added. Gradually, the list pages, custom pages and documents pages were added. Some groups had icons displayed next to the name. Official groups by MSN had the MSN "butterfly", groups considered "cool" had "sunglasses", private groups had a "padlock" and Mature groups had the "smoking pipe". Previously, "Adult" groups had their own icon too.
The famous Doctor Who Tardis building fan group started on MSN Groups in 2002 before moving to Proboards and then to their own website.
In 2005, all "Adult" groups weretransferred to the World Groups web site. Creating or changing a group to "Adult" was no longer possible in MSN. The removal of all "Adult" groups was processed on November 28, 2005. On October 16, 2006, the chats on every MSN Group were removed during the cancellation of the MSN Chat service. MSN Groups Chat rooms were removed from the CMS because MSN Subscription Chat was no longer profitable, and because of security and safety issues for children.
In October 2008, Microsoft announced the MSN Groups Service would close down on February 21, 2009. Users would still be able to retain their information even with the closure. Users had the option of migrating their data to the social website Multiply, MSN's partner for online groups. MSN Groups would not become Windows Live Groups, as the tools that could be possibly utilized differed from that of the MSN Groups features. Windows Live Groups were not being launched as or marketed as a replacement for MSN Groups. MSN groups were decommissioned as part of the dismantling of the services side of MSN. The only official option Groups were given was the opportunity to migrate to Multiply. Windows Live Groups were integrated into Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces and do not have the capacity to accommodate the large memberships of MSN groups.
In 2012, those who migrated their groups to Multiply were informed that the site was switching focus to e-commerce and would no longer host personal websites.
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