is an advertisement
-supported instant messaging client
and associated protocol
provided by Yahoo!
. Yahoo! Messenger is provided free of charge and can be downloaded and used with a generic "Yahoo! ID" which also allows access to other Yahoo! services, such as Yahoo! Mail
, where users can be automatically notified when they receive new email. Yahoo! also offers PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to-PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text messaging service, and chat rooms in various categories.
Yahoo! Messenger was originally launched under the name Yahoo! Pager on 1998-03-09.
In addition to instant messaging features similar to those offered by ICQ, it also offers (on Microsoft Windows) features such as: IMVironments (customizing the look of Instant Message windows, some of which include authorized themes of famous cartoons such as Garfield or Dilbert), address-book integration and Custom Status Messages. It was also the first major IM client to feature BUZZing and music-status. Another recently added feature is customized avatars.
On December 5, 2007, Yahoo! Messenger announces the release of Yahoo Messenger for Windows Vista as a Beta Release. It includes transparent Glass Windows and a new skin and GUI for the Windows Sidebar and program. Also integrated new tabs for going between different chat windows.
On October 29, 2007, Yahoo! Messenger announced the release of Yahoo! Messenger 9 Beta. It features a new and improved interface, new emoticons (also hidden emotions), the integration with Flickr account and a new in-line media player which enables the user to view maps, photos and videos from sites like Yahoo! Video and YouTube right in the IM window.
Yahoo! has announced a partnership with Microsoft to join their instant messaging networks. This would make Yahoo! Messenger compatible with Microsoft's .NET Messenger Service. It also made Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger compatible with Yahoo!'s Network. This change has taken effect as of 2006-07-13 - Yahoo! Messenger has integrated instant messaging with Windows Live Messenger users, and is fully functional.
British Telecommunications' BT Communicator software is based on Yahoo! Messenger. BT Communicator was withdrawn on 2006-12-31.
Yahoo! Voice is a Voice over IP PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to-PC service , provided by Yahoo! via its Yahoo! Messenger instant messaging application. It is also available for the Mac OS X platform .
Voicemail and file sharing
Yahoo! added voicemail and file sending capabilities to their client. File-sharing of sizes up to 2GB was added.
As of 8.0, Yahoo! Messenger has added the ability for users to create plug-ins (via the use of the freely available Yahoo! Messenger Plug-in SDK
), which are then hosted and showcased on the Yahoo! Plug-in gallery
Yahoo! Mail integration
Yahoo! plans to integrate Yahoo! Mail Beta
and Yahoo! Messenger. Conversations will be archived and stored in the same manner as emails. This allows users to search within their chat logs easily, and to have them centrally stored and accessible from any computer.
All versions of Yahoo! Messenger have included the ability to access Yahoo! Chat rooms.
On June 19, 2005, with no advance warning, Yahoo! disabled users' ability to create their own chat rooms. The move came after KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas reported that many of the user-created rooms were geared toward pedophilia. Many regulars in these rooms used the rooms to set up meetings to have sex with children and trade lewd pictures. While it was thought this move came as a result of several advertisers pulling their ads from Yahoo!, a more likely cause was a $10 million lawsuit filed by watchdog groups of internet portals on behalf of a 12-year-old victim of molestation .
Yahoo! has since closed down the chat.yahoo.com site (which is now a redirect to a section of the Yahoo! Messenger page) because the great majority of chat users accessed it through Messenger. In August of 2007, it began requiring word verification in order to use Yahoo! Chat. Officially, this is to guard against spammers and automated bots, which had been a source of frustration for many chatters (This method has proved highly unsuccessful, as many rooms now have more bots than users). However, as this also logs users' IP addresses, this feature could presumably be used to monitor against the type of behavior that prevailed in the pedophilia-oriented rooms. The company claims to be still working on a way to allow users to create their own rooms while providing safeguards against abuse.
As of October 2008, Yahoo's inability to control chat bots and spammers continues to be a major issue. Over 90% of all chat messages, even in supposedly family oriented chat rooms like genealogy, appear to be originated by automated spam bots spewing solicitations for adult activities, web cams and pictures.
Similar to MSN Web Messenger
and AOL Instant Messenger
's Aim Express and Quick Buddy
, Yahoo! Messenger also has a web applet version that runs in a browser window to communicate with friends. Recently, it has switched from DHTML
to Adobe Flash
Yahoo! Messenger's installation process automatically installs an extra URI scheme
("protocol") handler into some web browsers, so that URIs beginning "ymsgr:
" can open a new Yahoo! Messenger window with specified parameters. This is similar in function to the mailto:
URI scheme, which creates a new e-mail message using the system's default mail program. For instance, a web page might include a link like the following in its HTML source to open a window for sending a message to the YIM user notarealuser
<a href="ymsgr:sendim?notarealuser">Send Message</a>
To specify a message body, the
m parameter is used, so that the link location might look like this:
* ymsgr:sendim? Example: ymsgr:sendim?myid
* ymsgr:addfriend? Example: ymsgr:addfriend?myid
* ymsgr:sendfile? Example: ymsgr:sendfile?myid
* ymsgr:call? Example: ymsgr:call?1-800-555-7654
* ymsgr:callPhone? Example: ymsgr:callPhone?1-800-555-7654
* YMSGR:chat? <"opens chat room list" Note: bigblueball does not like ? at the end of a link!
Offline messaging, a feature long offered by Yahoo!
, allows online users to send messages to their contacts, even if said contacts are not signed in at the time. The sender's offline contacts will receive these messages when they next go online.
On October 13, 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced plans to introduce interoperability between their two messengers, creating the second largest real time communications service userbase worldwide: 40 percent of all users (AIM
currently holds 56 percent). The announcement comes after years of 3rd party interoperability success (most notably, Trillian
) and criticisms that the major real time communications services were locking their networks. Microsoft has also had talks with AOL in an attempt to introduce further interoperability, but so far, AOL seems unwilling to participate.
Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger was launched July 12, 2006. This allows, for Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger users to chat to each other without the need to create an account on the other service, provided both contacts use the latest versions of the clients. For now, it's impossible to talk using the voice service among both messengers.
There are various games and applications available that can be accessed via the conversation window by clicking the games icon and challenging your current contact. It requires Java
The Windows version of Yahoo! Messenger previously used ypager.exe as the name of the instance of the client. It was changed to yahoomessenger.exe since the beta
of version 7.5.0.
Yahoo! Messenger (along with other networks such as Windows Live Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger) is often used as a conduit or "vector" for delivering malicious software such as spyware, viruses, worms, and trojans to unsuspecting computer users. The three methods used by hackers to deliver malware over the IM vector are (1) sending a file transfer with a virus-infected file, (2) delivering a message with socially engineered content containing a web address (URL) containing active malicious code and (3) sending specially crafted messages exploiting security vulnerabilities in the client software. Viruses and worms with colorful names such as W32.Yalove or W32/Spybot-MQ have been identified as targeting users of the Yahoo! Messenger network over the past few years.
The most common method of delivering a malicious payload is the use of social engineering to construct a message that appears to be coming from a contact on the recipient's contact list. A socially engineered message is one that is written in a friendly, informal manner, that could easily be mistaken as coming from a friend. The message usually will say something like "Click here to see pics of me from vacation!" or "Is this you?" with a web address -- known as a "poison URL" -- for the recipient to click. Upon clicking the web address, the recipient is connected to a website containing active content, which is immediately downloaded to the recipient's computer. In most cases, the payload contains an installer, a number of hidden files containing text, and code which causes the same socially engineered message with poison URL to be sent to every contact on the contact list. When the message is sent to all contacts, the cycle starts again, as each contact believes they are receiving a message from a trusted friend. In this manner, IM-borne malware is capable of propagating very rapidly through company and external networks.
Worms and viruses are discovered on a regular basis by security companies, particularly by the three companies with IM-specific security products, Akonix Systems, FaceTime Communications, and Symantec. According to IM security researchers at Akonix, the number of new threats identified each month is 30 to 35, with a high of 88 in October, 2006.
Yahoo! Messenger users are subject to unsolicited messages (SPIM
) and the problem remains unresolved. Blogs and websites addressing this issue are supportive of the chat environment, and writers genuinely want to continue using the service, yet express frustration about Yahoo's apparent failure to address spam and other related problems. User queries are met with forms
and replies that Yahoo is "working to resolve the problem," yet there is no evident progress. As of 2007 it is estimated that at least 60% of all users who use Yahoo chat rooms are bots. Yahoo has introduced a CAPTCHA
system to help filter out bots from joining chat rooms but it has done little to actually stop the problem and has only inconvenienced human users.
Yahoo! recently released a preview version of Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista. It has been designed to exploit the new design elements of Vista's Windows Presentation Foundation and entitles a whole new user interface and features. Currently it lacks some basic functions such as webcam support and Chat.
The Mac OS X client version 3.0 Beta 2 has been released: file transfers have been re-enabled as have group conferences.
- Windows - 126.96.36.1992
- Windows Vista - 1.0 build 188.8.131.526 beta
- Mac OS X - 3.0 beta 3 (build 126432) / August 28, 2008
- Several third-party clients exist that can connect to the Yahoo! Messenger network, such as Adium and the now-discontinued Fire and Proteus. Adium can access the chat rooms, while the others cannot.
- Unix - 1.0.4 / September 2003
- Version 1.0.6 can be downloaded from the Unix Beta page: http://public.yahoo.com/~mmk/
Feature and release history
There are many versions between those listed here and prior to last version listed here. These are "major releases". See one of several sites listed in external links to find other, older versions of the product.
Oldest version for which customer care support is available: 8.0 (as of April 2, 2007)
Oldest version that can log in (has not reached end of life): 6.0 (as of April 2, 2008)
|| Release date
|| Notes |
|| March 9, 1998
|| August 17, 2000
|| November 2001
|| August 15, 2002
||Support for Windows 95 and Windows NT dropped. |
||August 8, 2005
- Renamed to "Yahoo! Messenger with Voice"
- Drag-and-drop photo sharing
- Drag-and-drop file sharing
- PC-to-PC calling
- Yahoo! 360° integration
- Pop-up Contact Cards
- Spam Reporting
- New tabs
- New emoticons
- Archive updates
- LiveWords (Beta)
|| August 30, 2005
||June 20, 2006
||Plugins possible |
||July 13, 2006
||Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger contacts |
||August 10, 2006
||The release date signifies the release of a beta version. This is not clearly documented on the Yahoo site. |
|| September 15, 2006
||October 24, 2006
- Renamed to "Yahoo! Messenger"
- Ability to check for updates from the help menu
||December 4, 2006
|| Patched an ActiveX Control Buffer Overflow |
||January 19, 2007
||Improvements in voice quality and sign-in, fixes for minor bugs with Windows Vista |
|| March 14, 2007
||March 28, 2007
||Patches a security flaw |
|| June 8, 2007
|| Fixes a vulnerability with the Webcam ActiveX control |
|| June 15, 2007
|| Fixes a buffer overflow in an ActiveX control |
|| July 17, 2007
||August 22, 2007
- Changes to voice library for better Vista support. (Users can get voice in Windows Vista without using a proxy app anymore, provided they still install codec themselves)
- Fix to two Cam exploits
|| August 29, 2007
|| Two more security patches |
|| September 6, 2007
||October 29, 2007
- New beta release of Yahoo! Messenger. It provides an improved user interface.
- Brand new skins and emoticons
- Flickr integration in the photo sharing feature
- New in-line media player
- New features for voice calls
- Unicode support for better international messaging.
||November 7, 2007
- Fixed issues with Windows Vista installation problem
- Message formatting in the IM window
- Compact list view enabled
|| December 18, 2007
||May 29, 2008
- Bigger emoticons
- Games are back!
- Status message improvements
- New contact list format button
- Import Contacts - new & improved
- Voice in chat rooms for Vista users & faster Captcha process
- Yahoo! Updates
|| September 23, 2008
- New skins
- Return of the (original) emoticons
- Ignore list enhancements
- Inline video & picture viewer
- New emoticons inspired by our users
- Import Contacts wizard
- Yahoo! Updates
- Call forwarding & new voicemail delivery
- Yahoo! Games are back
- Changes to the look and feel
- 2.5.3 - September 24, 2003
- 3.0 beta 1 (build 17006) - June 28, 2006
- New UI
- Display Images
- Avatars Support
- Stealth Settings
- Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger contacts
- Prior Releases - Undocumented
- 3.0 beta 1 revision 2 (build 18274) - July 13, 2006
- Auto Reconnect
- YMSG14 related bug fixes.
- 3.0 beta 2 (build 65474) - September 06, 2007
- Tabbed IM windows
- Chat rooms
- Improved stability for webcam and file transfer
- More emoticons
- Message archiving
- No voice calling
- Fixed scrolling up issue when Safari 3/Webkit 522+ is installed.
- 3.0 beta 2 revision 2 (build 75170) - October 25, 2007
- Improved stability and compatibility with Mac OS X Version 10.5 (Leopard)
- Some small interface improvements, including a new Show/Hide Display Images button in the IM and chat room windows
- Improved chat room layout, with the list of chatters in a left hand, scrollable panel with age/sex/location details available on hover (if the user is sharing his/her profile)
- Contextual (right click) menu's added to chatroom adding support for finally viewing a persons cam who isn't on contact list who's in the room.
- 3.0 beta 2 revision 3 (build 78326) - November 21, 2007
- Improved stability and compatibility with Mac OS X Version 10.5 (Leopard)
- Crash Reporter now works under Leopard.
- Improvements to the sign in process when behind a firewall.
- Couple of crash bugs fixed.
- 3.0 beta 3 (build 98855) - March 25, 2008
- 3.0 beta 3 (build 126432) - August 28, 2008