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MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger users are being told they must upgrade. We'll look at why, and what some alternatives might be.

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 moment.

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.

Now, as to what you upgrade to, well, there's a little wiggle room.

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 well.

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 approaches:

  • 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 before.

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.)

Article C3154 - September 20, 2007 « »

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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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48 Comments
aimee
September 21, 2007 4:01 AM

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?

Donna W Fleming
September 21, 2007 6:42 PM

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

Carl R. Goodwin
September 21, 2007 10:14 PM

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. :(

Jose
September 22, 2007 12:50 AM

Try aMSN (Alvaro's Messenger).

dwergs
September 24, 2007 9:49 AM

As I described somewhere on http://www.mess.be, 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: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=cf49c56c-8b3e-4eae-9904-9505f47bed45&DisplayLang=en

Cactus
September 24, 2007 5:30 PM

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 :)

Cactus

James Thompson
September 26, 2007 7:35 AM

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

Fik
September 28, 2007 10:59 AM

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.

Khris Sanz
October 8, 2007 11:38 AM

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!!

Doug
October 9, 2007 12:58 PM

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.
Thanks.

mezzy
November 24, 2007 8:36 PM

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.

pieter
December 27, 2007 8:18 PM

I want to Upgrade my MSN.pls let me know for Upgrade my MSN

emily
February 2, 2008 11:47 AM

it says that i have to log on as computer admistrotor and im useing the old one!

charlotte
February 3, 2008 8:49 PM

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!!!

Jetjoc
March 1, 2008 7:42 AM

Problem is that the 8.XX wont support my camcorder as a webcam, something i could do in the past.

http://www.pana3ccduser.com/showthread.php?t=1695

Danny
March 7, 2008 11:05 AM

I hate windows live messenger very much ... sorry

nuno
April 18, 2008 4:31 PM

the new design is so lame, i don't even feel like talking to my contacts

Will
May 13, 2008 9:08 AM

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.

GoodLuck
July 1, 2008 3:18 PM

i cant logon by Windows Live Messenger code 8100036

PTK
July 31, 2008 9:31 AM

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.

Oliver Cupitt-Osborne
October 7, 2008 7:06 AM

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?

Pippy Longstocking
October 13, 2008 12:33 AM

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 girl..so 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...

norman
February 27, 2009 6:59 AM

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

universal
March 10, 2009 2:59 PM

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!!!

kush
March 11, 2009 10:13 PM

here is a nice tutorial to use msn without updating, however i agree with the security issues..

http://techtadka.net/tutorials/software-tutorials/178-how-to-use-old-msn-messenger-without-upgrading.html

msnuser
April 1, 2009 8:25 AM

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.

Ben Brabec
April 27, 2009 7:30 PM

http://patched-up.blogspot.com/2007/10/running-msn-messenger-75.html

This site explains how to make your MSN Messenger 7.5 work without updating...

It is possible, it's just not as "safe" as stated above.

I downloaded and am now, as I am typing, using MSN Messenger 7.5

You can also download other versions of MSN Messenger from this site
http://www.oldapps.com/msn_messenger.php?old_msn=6

Danielle
July 19, 2009 10:27 AM

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

jonathan
July 27, 2009 3:10 AM

Thanks dude.. ur suggestion worked for me ! now im using msn messenger .. no WLM :)

Cheers !

Monica
September 17, 2009 5:51 PM

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 microsoft.com 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.

Dino
September 24, 2009 2:12 PM

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

rita
October 21, 2009 2:58 PM

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.

Debbie
November 11, 2009 6:08 PM

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

Brenda
November 17, 2009 10:13 AM

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

Ivo
January 2, 2010 9:21 AM

http://techtadka.net/tutorials/software-tutorials/178-how-to-use-old-msn-messenger-without-upgrading.html

Christer :D
January 4, 2010 11:32 AM

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

Christer :D
January 4, 2010 11:34 AM

Sorry, forgot to tell you what to right click on, and it is the msnmsgr file located in the programfiles folder ...

Emma
February 24, 2010 9:09 AM

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

Gownaar
March 11, 2010 11:56 AM

To use wlm 8.1/8.5: if the compatibility trick doesn't work, get “wlm no update patch” from Softpedia.

chena
April 13, 2010 4:18 PM

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?
Leo
17-Apr-2010

faisal
May 5, 2010 6:06 AM

actually my messenger is not working properly that is why i like to install it .

col
May 6, 2010 8:52 AM

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

Sandy
August 28, 2010 8:25 AM

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??

Jasmine
October 23, 2010 12:07 PM

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.
Leo
24-Oct-2010

I hate it.
January 2, 2011 7:52 PM

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.
Leo
03-Jan-2011

lompos
February 10, 2011 4:16 PM

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.

joe zink
August 2, 2011 6:13 PM

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.
Thanks,
Joe

Kim Woolaway
August 18, 2011 9:45 AM

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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