Today in history: The birth of Windows Messenger

"Whether it's used in business, friendship or romance, Instant Messaging has swept the nation to become an essential part of day to day life," said Mark West from the Windows Live Messenger team, in a statement.

"This is a real milestone for Windows Live Messenger and we're very excited to see what the next 10 years has in store."

Indeed, there is no question that instant messaging has changed the face of both personal and business communications.

Many business users are expecting their in-work use of IM to increase in the coming years.

There is even talk that IM may replace email as the primary method of mobile communication.

"Windows Live Messenger might have started out as a consumer application, but it quickly found a home in businesses," John Cunningham, ntl:Telewest Business' director of business markets, added in a statement.

"It has driven the requirement for instantaneous communication - whereas people used to have to wait, they can now expect an immediate reply."

To celebrate the IM milestone, Microsoft has installed a giant interactive messenger in a bottle that lets visitors chat and play games with people around the world and perhaps even a celebrity or two - at Potter's Fields, near Tower Bridge.

It was officially opened' by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.