Yahoo Forcing Upgrade on IM Users

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-09-18 Print this article Print

While the forced upgrade's purpose is to combat spam, it could also disable third-party IM clients and services.

In an effort to combat spam, Yahoo Inc. is requiring users of certain older versions of its Yahoo Messenger instant messaging client to upgrade by Sept. 24 or lose access to its popular IM network. But the move could have a side effect that company officials say was not the intent of the move: It could disable third-party IM clients and services—such as Cerulean Studios Trillian—that commonly allow users to connect into multiple IM services at once.
Yahoos forced upgrade push comes a month after Microsoft Corp. started informing users of older versions of its MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger IM clients that they must upgrade by Oct. 15 or lose access. Part of Microsofts move also was to block third-party IM clients and services unless they obtain a license to connect into its .NET Messenger Service.
Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is not taking the same approach with third parties, said spokeswoman Mary Osaka. Rather, the goal of the update is to move users to versions that can better combat spam and improve the services quality. "Our update is not driven by a desire to establish business relationships with third parties" she said via e-mail. "Our primary reason for this update is to enhance the overall quality of the Yahoo! Messenger service for our users." Yahoo last week began informing the "small percentage" of users who are affected, officials said. The company would not say how many or what percentage of Yahoo Messenger users are affected. It is ending support for Yahoo Messenger for Windows Version 5.0 or older, Mac versions 2.0 or older, and Unix Version 1.02 or older and encouraging users to upgrade to the latest versions.Discuss this in the eWeek forum.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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