Yahoo Forcing Upgrade on IM Users

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.

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