Unless you're on Apple iOS or Google Android OS, Facebook considers you a second class user.
That's the message Facebook is sending as the second birthday of its Messenger app for Microsoft Windows and Firefox approaches.
Facebook has already refused to release Messenger for alternative smartphone platforms such as Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry BlackBerry 10, or Firefox OS. Now it's preparing to further narrow its user base, by killing off support for its two most popular Windows messaging clients which interface with its Facebook Chat instant messaging system -- its standalone desktop Messenger for Windows, and its in-window Messenger browser app/extension for Firefox.
The odd part about this decision is that its clients seemed to have just improved in the last month or two with the release of a patch that made user-sent pictures and icons work properly (before only a handful showed up correctly in the standalone desktop app).
The decision will likely disappoint Windows users as Facebook Messenger is reportedly the most popular PC messaging app.
The standalone client feels responsive and easy to use, where as running Facebook chat within a standard browser session feels far less responsive and occupies a unnecessary amount of screen real estate.
In an even more surprising move rather than simply dropping support and letting these apps quietly die, Facebook's post says that it will make them "stop working". By the sound of it, Facebook will kill the messaging backbone for PC app clients.
Currently you can access Facebook Chat using certain third party Windows messenger apps, such as Pidgin. But the reality is that these apps often struggle to support Facebook's protocols and typically offer no support for its more advanced features such as picture/icon messaging.
In theory these could now serve as alternatives to Facebook's soon-to-be-defunct app. But given Facebook's announcement that the desktop client will "stop working", it sounds like third party clients may lose support as well.
This is a terrific opportunity for rivals such as AOL (who makes AIM) and Microsoft (who makes Windows Messenger) as Facebook is basically surrendering the PC market to them.
The decision is rather baffling that Facebook would throw away popular, working products and turn away a major part of its userbase.
But with recent acquisitions such as its $1B USD purchase of Instagram (April 2012) and its $16B USD purchase of WhatsApp (Feb. 2014) Facebook has become increasingly mobile oriented. And it appears that it's joined the crowd of those who believe we're entering a post-PC era and is being proactive in phasing out PC support.
It's a risky move -- if Windows recovers Facebook will suffer, but if Windows dies as many believe it will, Facebook will have picked the winning team (Google and Apple).