MSN Plus (Messenger Plus) PLE Chat Log Decryption

MSN Plus was a popular add on for MSN Messenger (Windows Live Messenger) throughout the 2000’s. One of the features MSN Plus had was the ability to log chats, then in later versions of MSN Plus encrypt these chat logs.

Encrypted chat logs we’re certainly a good idea, however as the years go on things change. MSN Messenger has long since been merged with Skype and development of MSN Plus has ended. So what can I do about the all the encrypted chat logs I have spanning almost 10 years?

It’s still possible to view the chat logs if you install an old version of MSN Messenger, which will then allow MSN Plus to be installed so your encrypted chat logs can be opened as normal. To me installing two programs which are no longer supported (and not even possible to download unless you have archived a copy) was certainly not ideal in my mind, so I wanted to find a way to decrypt all my old chat logs.

As it turns out back in 2006 a MSN Plus community member going by the alias of CookieRevised created a batch file that would decrypt (or encrypt) all MSN Plus chat log files found within a folder / sub folders of that folder.

Providing you know the password used to encrypt your chat logs this script can scan through your chat logs folder, locate any .PLE files (Encrypted chat logs) and batch decrypt them back to the standard .html chat logs MSN Plus used for non encrypted chat logs.

The process is pretty easy to do presuming you have an offline installer for MSN Messenger and a compatible version of MSN Plus. If not I have uploaded a copy of everything you will require below.

Removing Chat Log Encryption From Messenger Plus (MSN Plus) PLE Chat Logs

To remove the encryption from your chat logs you will need to download the following:

I have created mirrors of the above files from my download archives as none of them appear to be hosted online anymore, all the files were sourced from their official sites many years ago.

Note: I installed the above on a Windows 7 SP1 64bit virtual machine which i can confirm this process will work on, newer versions of Windows might not be compatible.

Once you have download the files above, follow these steps to decrypt your MSN Messenger chat logs:

  1. Install Windows Live Messenger 2009
  2. Install MSN Plus Live 4.90
  3. Extract the DecryptEncryptAll batch files to the folder your chat logs are located in – Documents\My Chat Logs is the default location.
  4. You should have now have something like this:MSN Plus Chat Log Decryption 1
  5. As you can see each months chat logs are encrypted:
    MSN Plus Chat Log Decryption 3
  6. Open the DecryptAll 4.1.bat file and enter the password used to encrypt the chat logs:MSN Plus Chat Log Decryption 2
  7. The decryption process should now start:
    MSN Plus Chat Log Decryption 3
  8. Once decrypted the encrypted chat logs will be deleted and you will end up with the standard MSN Plus HTML versions of your chat logs in the same folder the encrypted chatlog was located in.
    MSN Plus Chat Log Decryption 5

To decrypt all my chat logs it took around 20-30 mins (I wasnt really watching it), this will vary depending how many logs you have saved over the years. My chat logs were encrypted from September 2007 onward to December 2011.

I believe December 2011 was around the time I switched over to Trillian as i didnt really like the look of the newer MSN clients, however at that point Trillian was still capable of connecting to the Messenger network and was a much nicer client than in my opinion.

I hope this helps some fellow MSN users out, I think old chat logs are something good to keep and look back on in years to come to see what I was doing in a certain point in my life, even just looking back at a few when posting this blog i was thinking “wow i totally forgot about that”.

If you are from the UK you likely grew up with MSN Messenger, it’s something I had used since the year 2000. Back when I was in school or college you would just ask someone for their MSN email address, rather than a mobile number. Back then not everyone had mobile phones and for those who did calls / texts where not usually free, so most people would often be on MSN during the evenings. The modern day equivalent seems to be WhatsApp / Facebook messenger. Anyway i’m going a bit off topic here, i hope someone find’s this blog post of some use sometime in the future!

Note: the source for the batch script used in this guide was the MSN Plus forums, which now no longer appear to exist. A community hosted archive of the MSN Plus forums can be found here. The batch file used in this blog was found in the archived topic here.

Is Piracy Simply More Convenient? – NowTV DRM

For Christmas I purchased my Dad a NowTV HD box, this is essentially a Roku 2 media player which Sky have re branded to run their NowTV app. Now before I continue I will say I think NowTV is actually really good, with the NowTV HD box came a 6 month Sky Entertainment pass, which gets you access to 13 TV channels you can stream on up to 2x devices at the same time, and access to a huge Netflix style back catalog of content. My dad has really enjoyed watching many series on this, along with some of his favorite programs on Discovery and Sky Atlantic.

Anyway getting to the point of this blog, my Dad had told my mum their was a documentary about a band she likes on the NowTV box and wanted to know if she could get NowTV on the main TV in the living room. As this TV has a Chromecast connected to it I said if she installed the NowTV app on her Nexus 9 tablet she could simply Chromecast it to the TV like she can with the BBC iPlayer and other simlar apps.

After installing the NowTV app, signing in and trying to play an episode of a TV show to test it works she is told her Nexus 9 can’t be used for NowTV as it’s been modified. This was rather annoying, her tablet had been rooted when she first got it so I could restore a backup made of her apps / save games on the older tablet she had, it had however been un-rooted so it could then take over the air updates as normal. Despite this it appears Sky can some how detect the tablet was one rooted and essentially refuse to let the device be used for consuming NowTV content.

Next i tried my Mums Moto G mobile phone, which the NowTV app worked fine on. My mum could sign in and play content on the phone fine. However when trying to Chromecast to the TV she is told by the NowTV app she is unable to do so as the limit of 4x devices has been reached on the NowTV account.

It appears each Chromecast device on your home network is classed as a new device by NowTV. that seems a very unfair restriction to have considering the phone is the device been used to interface with NowTV, the Chromecast is essentially allowing the content to play on a TV instead of the small mobile phone screen. Content can’t be played on both devices at the same time

Now you might think why not just remove a device from your NowTV account to allow the Chromecast to function?

DRM is here to cause you problems too, you can only remove then add a maximum of one device per month. Because I had already removed the Nexus 9 (which NowTV refused to work on) then added the Moto G I was unable to remove another device to add the Chromecast until the following month… Great.

After all this messing about I am wondering why i didn’t just spend 60 seconds downloading the documentary my mum wanted to watch, instead of spending 45 minutes trying to do it the legal way and stream it from NowTV.

DRM only actually hurts consumers paying for content, everything on NowTV is available on torrent websites, or even with a simple Google search. Yet people who actually want to do the right thing and pay for content have to jump through so many hoops and restrictions to watch something legally.

You have to wonder why bother when piracy is simply more convenient?

MSI Wind U100 Netbook Windows 10 Install

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10

I recently found my MSI Wind U100 Netbook out and thought as Windows 10 is currently a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 user i’d give it a try and see how well it runs on the MSI Wind, a 7 year old netbook.

MSI Wind U100 Background:

The MSI Wind U100 is a netbook (small laptop) that I purchased in 2008 which got me though my second and third years of University. Back then thin / small laptops such as the Macbook Air didn’t exist. However in mid 2008 “Netbooks” became the next big thing in the computing world. These were essentially small / light laptops with a 9 or 10″ screen powered by an Intel Atom Processor.

The Intel Atom was really power efficient at the time, which allowed netbooks such as the MSI Wind U100 to have a 6 hour battery life. Back then i remember thinking this was amazing, previous to that your average laptop was 15″, big, bulky and you would be lucky if you got more than three hours of battery life out of it. I remember taking my 15″ Acer Ferrari 4000 laptop to University a couple of times in my first year. I quickly concluded it wasn’t a viable option, although it would fit in my bag, my back and neck hurt from carrying it around all day as it was just too heavy.

MSI Wind U100 Specifications:

  • 10″ 1024×600 screen
  • Intel Atom N270 single core processor at 1.60 ghz
  • 2gb of DDR2 ram (upgraded from 1gb)
  • 160gb hard drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Wireless B/G/N
  • Bluetooth
  • 4 in 1 cardreader
  • Microphone
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • 6 cell battery which gave about 6 hours usage
  • Weighs around 1.18kg
  • Came with Windows XP home edition

Even at the time the MSi Wind U100 wasn’t a powerhouse, however connectivity / portability and battery life was where the MSi Wind U100 excelled, that was exactly what i wanted. It could run Microsoft Office 2007 (later 2010) and browse the internet perfectly fine, all i needed to get through my University day.

In addition the MSI Wind U100 had great comparability with other operating systems. When i first got the MSI Wind I ended up with a quad boot setup consisting of Windows XP, OSX, Ubuntu and an early beta build of Windows 7. Early alpha versions of Google’s Chrome OS worked well from the SD card. Eventually when Windows 7 was released i got rid of my quad boot setup and simply stuck with Windows 7 as it worked even better than Windows XP which the laptop shipped with, something which surprised me. Windows Vista didn’t run well at all on the Intel Atom based processors.

This sort of leads me on to this blog post, I thought as Windows 10 currently available as a free upgrade i’d see if it was even possible to run Windows 10 on my MSI Wind U100 and how well it worked.

 

Installing Windows 10 on the MSI Wind U100:

As i had Windows 7 Ultimate installed on the MSI Wind at the moment i downloaded the EN-GB version of Windows 10 Pro from Microsoft’s Tech bench website.

As the MSI Wind doesnt have a DVD drive i simply extracted the contents of the ISO with WinRAR and started the upgrade process.

I was warned i would have to download an EN-US language pack after upgrading to Windows 10 if i wished to continue using the same language. This was fine though as I downloaded the EN-GB ISO on purpose given I live in the UK. Back with Windows 7 Microsoft never had a UK specific version of Windows (not that it really makes much difference apart from a few spelling differences)

I chose not to keep any files / settings when upgrading as my Windows 7 install was over 6 years old, so I wanted to start fresh:

6 Year Old Windows 7 Install

The Windows 10 installer did its thing, when i came back to the MSI Wind U100 about an hour later I was prompted to create a user count. It took a while to set things up after that and end up at the desktop, shortly after the drivers for the GPU were automatically installed. I than ran Windows Update and the most recent updates were downloaded.

After that the MSI Wind U100 was good to go, looking at device manager drivers had automatically been installed for all the hardware inside the MSI Wind. Wireless, Bluetooth, the card reader and even the built in webcam all worked fine:

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10 Drivers

Windows 10 seems to work well enough on a 1024×600 screen too:

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10 Desktop

How does Windows 10 perform on the MSI Wind U100:

I’d honestly say Windows 10 works as good as Windows 7 on the MSI Wind U100, it boots up in around 30 seconds and is ready to use. Microsoft Office is as usable as it ever was on Windows 7 and my day to day applications all work fine. Microsoft’s edge struggles a bit when loading webpages that contain flash adverts, however flash content was never that great on the MSI wind anyway!

I remember thinking when buying the MSI Wind U100 that the Intel Atom N270 only been a 32bit processor would limit the ability to upgrade to more modern operating systems in the future. However back in 2009 I was pleased to hear Windows 7 would still have a 32bit version, however fast forward 6 years later and the 32bit version of Windows 10 also works perfectly on the MSI Wind U100.

Not bad at all for a £280 Netbook i purchased 7 years ago, the MSI Wind U100 just seems to keep going.

I hope my experience of upgrading to Windows 10 on the MSI Wind U100 might be useful to someone else, I don’t think i’d personally pay to upgrade to Windows 10, however for free during the first year you might as well. For basic internet / office use the MSI Wind is still very much usable in 2015.