Microsoft Chat – the best IRC client ever? Perhaps not the best IRC client as such, it may indeed have been the most creative and imaginative among popular clients of its era or any other thus far. Microsoft Chat, developed throughout the late 1990s, may at least today be best defined not by its function but by the memory of its experience; "Comic Chat," a feature with which the software became largely synonymous, took online chatting and gave it a twist that was new and exciting.
While lacking the advanced functionality of some clients catered to the more technically inclined, Microsoft Chat found its audience among popular users. This demographic shifted, however, when Microsoft decided to "go another direction" (a nice way of saying "you're fired") and permanently closed its IRC servers in 2001, a moment in the memory of some that marked one event in a wider wrinkling away of an Internet golden age. In addition to the general remnants of its early userbase, the ever shrinking Microsoft Chat small pocket populace would include computer enthusiasts, artists, and web-designers among its most unyielding loyalists.
While the numbers continue to shrink, Microsoft Chat is employed and enjoyed by several within that strand of society that never wants to let go of a good piece of software – geek culture, however broadly defined.