Microsoft to force Messenger users to upgrade

Some time in the next few weeks, Microsoft is going to require all users of its Messenger instant-messaging service to upgrade to Windows Live Messenger 8.1, in the name of security.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft instant-messaging users who aren't yet running version 8.1 (or higher) of Windows Live Messenger, take note: Your days are numbered.

As reported by LiveSide.net, some time in the next few weeks, Microsoft is going to require all Messenger users to upgrade, in the name of security. Security product manager "Anand" blogged:

"We will soon configure the service such that any user on Windows XP or later system has to use Windows Live Messenger 8.1. When a user using an older version of Messenger tries to login, the client will help the user with a mandatory upgrade to Messenger 8.1.

"Some of you might feel this inconvenient, but in order to protect you and protect the health of the network we have chosen to take this step."

Anand cited a security vulnerability affecting MSN Messenger 6.2, 7.0 and 7.5, as well as Windows Live Messenger 8.0 as proof that users would be best served by upgrading. That vulnerability is detailed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-054, which Microsoft published on September 11.

Messenger users are seemingly none too happy with Microsoft's decision, as comments posted to the "Inside Windows Live Messenger" blog indicate. One anonymous poster wondered whether Microsoft would make exceptions for corporate or advanced users:

"(I)s there any option for corporate or advanced users who have other IM security controls in place to continue running version 7.0 on windows XP? 8.1 has many protocol differences from the older clients. Is there any documentation available describing the external websites/ports the 8.1 client requires for access? This has changed quite a bit from the older versions..."

Windows Live Messenger 8.1 is the currently available version of Microsoft's consumer IM client, but select testers also are dabbling with Live Messenger 8.5.

Being a long-time holdout myself (much preferring the streamlined, simple MSN Messenger look and feel to Windows Live Messenger's more cluttered interface), I, too, wish there was some way to keep the MSN Messenger UI. How about a "classic" view for Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft?

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