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After releasing a new version of software manufacturers often make older versions difficult to find. What if you really do need an old version?

Is there a site where I can get old versions of software such as MSN Messenger 5.x?

The current version of MSN Messenger is 6.x, but for various reasons, you really prefer 5.x. Can you get 5.x? Maybe. Can you use 5.x? Maybe not. And how about other software, are older versions available?

Maybe. Noticing a trend?

First, here's a resource: OldVersion.com. This site maintains an archive of old versions of a number of software packages including MSN Messenger.

Now, we've determined that MSN Messenger 5 can be found but will it work? Probably not. The MSN Messenger service currently requires version 6.1 or better. If you run an older version it should prompt you to update to the current version.

This brings up a bigger topic with respect to old versions of software - they may no longer work. Messenger is a classic case because it communicates with a backend service that enforces the version. Other old versions of software, even standalone packages, can run into trouble - software that was written for Windows 98 may not work on Windows XP. Even when running on the same Windows version, other components of the operating system may have been upgraded and no longer support the older versions of your favorite package.

So it may work, but it may not.

If it works you may still have difficulty. In particular, support may be an issue. While you may be able to get support from free support forums or other resources it's unlikely that you'll be able to get official support from the software manufacturer.

Finally, it's unclear whether it's ethical to locate and download software from sites other than the manufacturer's approved channels. In many cases, because the manufacturers are busy on more current versions and won't support the old ones they'll turn a blind eye to old version downloads. In other cases, because they have a vested interest in making sure people are up-to-date they may actively discourage the practice.

Article C1928 - April 21, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Alice Allen
June 30, 2004 7:21 PM

I and a couple of my friends have downloaded the new Instant Messenger 6.2 . I have windows xp version 2002 and twick I have uninstalled because it makes my internet service go buggy and real slow. Am I the only on having problems with this.
Thanks
Alice Allen

Gary
August 17, 2006 8:40 PM

You can go to http://www.mess.be/ for old versions of msn. Go to the fourth drop down menu at the top that says, "[download]" and scroll down and click on "messenger clients"

Or follow this link http://www.mess.be/pafiledb/pafiledb.php?action=category&id=1

Paul
January 31, 2008 10:51 AM

I have an old messenger of msn and when I try to click on 'forgotton password' it always goes onto the newer version and it doesn't seem to remember my older account - I need it to access emails and such - how can I get it to get my password?

lina gan
June 19, 2008 9:25 AM

why i keep getting the error message that the older version of my window live messenger can not be removed, so how do i download the new version if that is the case?? my computer is window XP pack 2

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