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Windows Live Messenger, like many other programs, requires you to upgrade when they roll out new versions... whether you like it or not. You might want to try a different instant message program.

Windows Live Messenger problem. Windows Live Messenger was working perfectly for me until the evening yesterday when I attempted to login to Windows Live Messenger and a screen appeared saying, "A newer version has been downloaded and is available and you must install this newer version to continue. Would you like to do this now?" It gives me two options, Yes or No. If I click No and proceed to sign-in, it then comes up with exactly the same screen as before. There's a problem and Windows Live Essentials 2009 could not be installed. I don't like the new latest version 2011.

In this excerpt from Answercast #35, I look at the way Windows rolls out new software versions, why you are going to have to upgrade, and a few options.

Upgrading Windows Live Messenger

Unfortunately, Windows Live Messenger is one of those programs that, when it comes time to upgrade to a new version, you basically have to whether you like it or not.

  • If you don't like Windows Live 2011, then the only option is to move to a different program.

Unfortunately, it is very likely – potentially even very possible – that Windows is going to require that you use the latest version of their software to access Windows Live Messenger. And I honestly don't know of a way around that.

Sometimes, two versions will work simultaneously for awhile: the 2009 version and the 2011 version will work together for awhile. But at some point, Microsoft makes a change that causes the 2009 version to no longer work and then they require all of the users to upgrade to the 2011 version (or whatever the current version is that they happen to be pushing out.)

Use another program

The only alternative that I'm aware of to this is to not use Windows Live Messenger itself at all.

  • By that, I mean use the service, but use a different program to access it.

There are different programs that you can install on your machine that are much more consistent. In fact, many people like them better to access the Windows Live Messenger instant messaging service.

Programs like:

  • Trillion is the big one.

It's a multi-platform application. So in addition to using Windows Live Messenger, you can also chat with your friends who happen to have AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Instant Messenger accounts.

  • Another is a program called Pidgin.

It is the same thing as Trillion. It's a multi-platform instant messaging program that happens to support Windows Live Messenger. It is open source. It's available on other platforms besides Windows. It is something that (I think) comes by default with Ubuntu or can be installed on to almost any Linux system.

There are several alternatives along those lines as well.

So, that's the approach that I've taken. I actually run Trillion on my machines and use it to communicate with my instant messaging contacts.

Video and audio may not be supported

The one downside that I will tell you about (specifically with Windows Live Messenger) is that if you use a third-party program, like Trillion or like Pidgin, you may not be able to do online audio and video.

Those typically have only the ability to do true-text instant messaging back and forth.

My understanding is (or at least my experience has been) that in order to do video and audio with Windows Live Messenger, you actually need the Windows Live Messenger program. Apparently what that means, today, is that you need the Windows Live Messenger 2011 version of that program.

So, there are some alternatives in there. But I don't think that getting any old version of that to work is one of the viable options.

Article C5586 - July 15, 2012 « »

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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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1 Comment
July 27, 2012 11:41 AM

I had that message appear some time ago, setting the WLM executable to run in XP SP3 compatibility mode fixed not only that but, also let's you send the program to the system tray instead of having the icon in the taskbar, which IMHO is annoying for a program that you have on "standby".

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