I’m trying to launch MSN Messenger and it’s telling me I must upgrade to the
latest version of Windows Live Messenger. I don’t like Windows Live Messenger,
can’t I just keep my old MSN Messenger? There must be a way.
And you don’t really want there to be, for reasons I’ll explain in a
The bottom line is that if you’re running MSN Messenger or even an older
version of Windows Live Messenger itself, you must upgrade. There’s no avoiding
Now, as to what you upgrade to, well, there’s a little
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The reason you must upgrade is simple: as reported in the infopackets windows newsletter
there’s a vulnerability in the older Messenger programs that can be exploited
by a malicious attacker and can be used, in the worst case, to take over your
machine. Microsoft has fixed this in the latest Windows Live Messenger and is
now requiring that you upgrade to squash the vulnerability.
Much like the forced upgrade from MSN Hotmail to MSN Live Hotmail there’s no
alternative; you must upgrade. The old versions are no longer supported and
will soon simply not work, if they haven’t stopped working already.
the latest version of MSN Messenger with a new name.”
Could they have fixed the older versions? Perhaps. But I’m not at all
surprised that Microsoft would also use this as an opportunity to also help
push the migration to “Windows Live” along. And particularly when it comes to
free software and services, it just makes sense to support one and only one
version of the software rather than trying to keep old versions working as
Remember, “Windows Live Messenger” isn’t a new program, it’s just the latest
version of MSN Messenger with a new name.
So my first recommendation is to simply upgrade and give Windows Live
Messenger a chance. You may be surprised.
But what if you still don’t like Windows Live Messenger? There are two basic
Stop using the Windows Messenger Service all together, and switch to another
Switch to one of the alternative, non-Microsoft IM client programs.
Switching services is a big deal. All of your contacts now are on
MSN/Windows Live Messenger, and if you switch to one of the other services such
as AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk or others, then all your contacts would need to move
as well. It may be easier than you think – you might want to check with your
contacts and see if they already have accounts on those other services.
But of course you’ll want to check out the client programs that work with
those other services to make sure that they work and don’t irritate you in the
same way that Windows Live Messenger apparently does.
The second alternative is actually what I do. Run a third party IM client
program. In my case I run Trillian.
Trillian is a single program that allows you to IM with MSN/Windows Live
Messenger contacts as well as AIM, Yahoo and others. You’d install and use it
instead of Windows Live Messenger, but you’re able to IM with all your Windows
Live Messenger contacts.
Another alternative is Pidgin, an
open source equivalent to Trillian. Same idea: you install Pidgin and use it
instead of Windows Live Messenger to communicate to the same buddies you had
A third and completely different alternative is to use a web based IM
service such as Meebo. You can IM
through several different services via the Meebo website. (Caveat: while I’ve
used both Trillian and Pidgin, I’ve not played with Meebo at all. Readers have
reported good things about it, however.)