This is the console as it was for years. Its looks were there from start and remained unchanged until v22, May 2008 - that’s almost 8 years. It served as a friend management tool, a chat tool and a search tool. Unchanged is not fully true though, it had some features that were removed over time, and a couple small updates. In early years, the console:
Some screenshots of the console up till 2008 - .
The SMS option was removed late 2002, as numbers had to be stored and could be retrieved. How and when the rest vanished and features were added, not sure. May 2007 (v14), friend request handling was made more easy (all on one page). September 2007 (v16) a ‘warp to friend’ button was added, and November 2007 (v18) friend request handling had a bulk accept/decline option added. Actually, this bulk removal option was present before, but as a seperate addition to old console. When you reached your maximum number of friends, or your HC ended (with maximum going down from 500 to 100) a popup came into view, requesting to delete some friends (who needs that many anyway :p) - .
And then there was v22. Besides going widescreen, this update was all about the console. Or rather, about moving functions out of the console. The chat function was transferred to a new ‘instant messenger’ dialog. Admittedly much better, with tabs for conversation and conversations in full view. At the same time, for longer/offline messages ‘minimail’ was introduced, a function on the homepage. Also friend management (besides deleting one) was moved to the homepage, as well as search function. It did get a new look though. So, basically it carries your friends, has buttons to open other functions and still the option to follow friends.
It was an update that really met some opposition, evolving around 1) lack of a functional console (mixed with loads of nostalgia), but also 2) resistance to moving lots of functionality to the homepage. Ofcourse, Sulake holds lots of surveys and picked up the signs. Partly, no way back. The messenger in reality is better for chatting. But they brought the searching back in v25 and also a tooltip when hovering a friend was added.
The tendency to move functionality to the homepage was halted though. For now, friend management is still there, but minimail got mirrored inside hotel (as did a lot of things not related to console). Finally, in beta phase the look of the console was updated to match other dialogs.