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MUST I upgrade MSN Messenger to Windows Live Messenger?


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.

There isn’t.

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
wiggle room.

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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.

“‘Windows Live Messenger’ isn’t a new program, it’s just
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
    IM service.

  • 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.)

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47 comments on “MUST I upgrade MSN Messenger to Windows Live Messenger?”

  1. Interesting thing happened with Live Messenger yesterday.I was in a chat and I used the term ‘gotcha’. My partner left the computer for a minute and next thing I know someone/something got into my chat window and sent all kinds of links that had the same term in it! It even said I had done a search… which I hadn’t. I uninstalled it and now have updated to new version. BTW, I didnt click on any link. Have you ever heard of such a thing happening?

  2. Since I updated to the new WLM, the little envelope that appears with my new EMail (numbers) doesn’t come up….and I can’t click on the drop down menu to make it stick….what is happening, I really miss that little icon? Thanks for your info on the Messenger, we are all confused…..Donna

  3. The other day I discovered that I had been forced to “upgrade” to the new version of Hotmail. This is after I had repeatedly stated that I like the old version. I’ve already reported a bug to Microsoft. I hate it. :(

  4. As I described somewhere on, there’s still a way to stick to MSN Messenger although it’s a bit of a “back to the future” solution.

    See, Microsoft released a new version of MSN Messenger 7.0 (build 820) that ISN’T vulnerable to the recently discovered webcam exploit.

    You’ll have to uninstall Windows Live Messenger 8.x first and then download (and install) 7.0 from the following location:

  5. Actually if you goto the MSN Messenger Folder and right click msnmsgr.exe then choose RUN THIS PROGRAM IN COMPATIBILTY MODE and choose Win2000 you will then be able to re-install an older version of MSN.
    Windows Live Messenger only works with WinXP and Vista so only those people using those Operating Systems are being forced to UPGRADE.
    Hope that helps :)


  6. What are users who have windows 2000 supposed to do. I can no longer log in as it keeps saying I have to upgrade from version 7.0???? Help

  7. I have Windows 2000 on the machine I use for chatting, so no “Windows 2000 compatibility” needed for me, but my messenger 7 refused to connect anyway.
    I searched and found the solution involving build 820 and installed it, and yes: it now connects, but every time I start the program, appears a warning “Windows is repairing msn messenger” before lauinching the program itself.

  8. MSN Messenger sucks with this mandatory sh*t… if they had left the same design to modify it with patch, at least.. (cause sometimes it’s so bored).

    I’m using yahoo messenger, thanks MSN!!

  9. I did the upgrade, which I didn’t want to but anyways, now I can’t see any of my contact pictures when I view my contacts list. If I open a chat session I see their pic. On the old version I could see everybody’s pic when viewing my contact list. I’ve set my options to show all contact pictures, doesn’t make a difference.

    Help please.

  10. why cant i down load windows live messenger on my computer…if all it is, is a name change…it simpley wont let me dl the new version and my old one doesnt work.. i feel its unfair.

  11. Leo,I not only upgraded the messenger but mail also.I’ve tried to find a way to contact them,but no luck.Ever since I upgraded from MSN to Windows Live Hotmail,whenever I read one piece of mail and go to delete it,it freezes on me and I have to re-enter site again.This is the only site it happens on.Can you help me?Please!!!

  12. Thanks for setting up this site! I use Trillian and since I switched from Hotmail/MSN Messenger to Windows Live Messenger a while back, Messenger shows as being logged off. When I click on the icon, I am brought to the Windows Live login page, where my login name is set but I am asked for my password. I use XP sp2 and Firefox. Same issue on both PCs. I have never used Trillian on the PC I am typing this message on.

  13. You can actually still use MSN Messenger 7.5. There is a trick. First install MSN MEssenger 7.5. After insallation, shut down the program, browse to msnmsgr.exe (usually under C: -> Program Files -> MSN MESSENGER -> msnmsgr.exe) Then right click on the file and chose Properties -> Compatibility -> Chose “Run this program in compatibility mode for” Windows 2000. Then start up msnmsgr.exe again and it will “rebuild” and not ask to download new version again.

    There might be some vulnerabilities in MSN Messenger, but I have not noticed anything yet and I chose to take the chance, as I’m very carefull with what I do.

  14. I want to get the latest version of Windows Messenger, because my one is old and bad, but whenever i go onto the update site, it says internet cannot display webpage. Do i have to uninstall my msn to get upgrade, if so how or if i don’t then what is the problem?

  15. I already have a windows live messenger account, and when I log in it tells me I HAVE to upgrade…press the button, there’s a good i do and each time I do, firefox pops an error box saying it cannot connect to the URL – it is an invalid address… so now I have LOST my msn altogether, because EVERY time I try to upgrade, I get the error… ho hum, what can I do? I am running Windows Vista XP SP2 with Firefox. i have to say, I had not a single problem with the messenger i already had – and now lost…

  16. could u send me the correct way to invite in spades we try and a message comes up we need to be signed in on windows live messenger we are signed in and it still wont work both computers are xp then some are vista

  17. PTK is right!!!!

    Simply “install MSN MEssenger 7.5. After insallation, shut down the program, browse to msnmsgr.exe (usually under C: -> Program Files -> MSN MESSENGER -> msnmsgr.exe) Then right click on the file and chose Properties -> Compatibility -> Chose “Run this program in compatibility mode for” Windows 2000. Then start up msnmsgr.exe again and it will “rebuild” and not ask to download new version again.” It WORKS!!!

  18. Thanks PTK. Upgraded my messenger to latest version which is a piece of $#*&. Uninstalled and reinstalled old version but it would always try to force me to upgrade. By using PTK’s suggestions I manage to use v8.x now by using it in windows 2000 compatibility mode. Kudos to PTK.

  19. iya iam tryn my best 2 upload the lastest msn messanger but it wont let me & i realy want it but am woundering if theres a easy way 2 do it

    from Danni

  20. Leo didn’t mention one VERY important thing from the beginning, which could have saved many of us so must frustration early on. For example, “WHAT IF I HAVE WINDOWS XP AND DOWNLOAD THE NEW MSN MESSENGER UPGRADE AND AFTER THAT A MESSAGE POPS UP STATING THAT MY OPERATING SYSTEM DOES NOT SUPPORT THE PROGRAMS INSTALLED” The first thing to do is go directly to the website and in their search box type in 7.0 messenger. Try downloading the 7.0 upgrade. It should work perfectly on most older XP Home Edition models if all else failed. I am surprised Leo wasn’t specific about this. Perhaps he just didn’t know himself. Of well.

  21. the new version of messenger is very stupid it is the professional destruction os msn

    in new version size of the cam is very small option to see contacts email adfress not existing if any1 is changing his nickname i cant find people totally this is an idiot messenger

  22. The reason I have msn is that when I upgraded to internet explorer it was a night mare and then I lost it everything. I couldn’t get on line to internet thru 8 and the qwest and they said to go to msn and it worked now I am told I have to upgrade or I will not be able to get my emails etc. Will the upgrade make me lose everything again.

  23. Upgrade was forced, lost all my email settings, used explorerer before, now forced hotmail. Hate hotmail. Lost all of my sent messages. HATE IT!

  24. I cannot upgrade to the new messenger and therefore cannot use my messenger it just downloads so far and stops and says it has been cancelled

  25. Why ask Leo when he doesn’t know… there is a easy way of keeping the old msn. You jusk right click, select propties, then Compatibility, than you select Microsoft server 2003… Trust me it will work :D don’t ask Leo, he doesn’t know everything :D :D :D sorry for bad language, I am not english :P

  26. I cannot upgrade to the new messenger and therefore cannot use my messenger it just downloads so far and starts going backwards and says it has been aborted :( I came here thiking ou would tell me how to fix it

  27. well umm see i want to upgrade my messenger b/c like i click on the button so like i can handwrite and it says that you may have to install o upgrade software so like yea i want to know wat i kan do…

    Well, ummm, you could, like, yea, install the upgrade, maybe, like?


  28. hi wondering if u can help, im having too use my old pc atm, im unable too get live messenger too work so iv now managed too get msn 8.0 workin my problem is thou that iv lost sum of the contacts i added when i was using live msn, how do i get them back? cheers

  29. Why can’t we use a separate contact box with messenger(like before) from whole windows live page—with all other headings??? Or is there a way I can get it loaded??

  30. Hi Leo,

    You state that MS has addressed a serious vulnerability with the upgrade. Further you note that you use Trillian, which I think has awesome capabilities. My question is regarding whether or not Trillian has been safeguarded against the same vulnerabilities that MS ‘fixed’. Thanks in advance and have a great day.

    This is a fairly old article, so I’m sure that all have moved on past the vulnerabilities of the time. However it’s important to note that in general just because one IM client has a vulnerability does not imply that the others do as well. Since they are completely separate programs they will in general have completely separate bugs, issues and vulnerabilities not related to one another.


  31. I hate the new Window’s Live Messenger, why can’t I go back to 9.0 or whatever I was using before? I’d be okay with the new one if it didn’t have all the news shit on the left, that’s what bugs me, I don’t like it there, I don’t want it there and I can’t get rid of it.. Any advice?

    Try using a different program enturely like Trillian or Pidgin – you can use your Windows Live Messenger account with those too.


  32. this new msn live, I hate it. just like i hate the new lay out of office 2007 / 10

    And then you wonder why poeple strating to use more and more google programs

    Because you don’t have trouble finding the stuff that you need.

  33. Hello, I don’t agree with “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 that.” let me tell you why. I did NOT upgrade, and I’m simply running in compatibility mode. I don’t mind bottom lines when they are actually at the bottom.

  34. To delete the MSN Messenger pop-up, on booting, I must now upgrade from something I didn’t want in the first place to somehing I don’t want now??? How to get rid of it all ?


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