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Kill the messenger?

Yahoo Messenger's installation and updates are intrusive.

Yahoo Messenger 8.1's update window
Yahoo Messenger 8.1 update window CNET Networks

Yahoo released an update today to make its popular instant messenger more secure. But if you speed through setting up Yahoo Messenger with Voice 8.1, you're likely to get more than you expect--namely, the Yahoo Toolbar within your Web browser, which then sets Yahoo as your home page and your default search engine. CNET explains the problem.

This is not the first time users have complained about intrusive extras from Yahoo's free IM program. Yahoo and other software vendors continue to insist that these kinds of surprises are for the benefit of users, but I can't stand losing control of my desktop. Sure, you should be more careful when you install applications. Choosing custom installation with Yahoo Messenger keeps your Web browser the way you left it. Realistically, however, the vast majority of people don't bother to spend the time to read the lingo and click the customization option, nor do they know how to change their software preferences later. Vendors should take into account how most users behave in real life, not just how the best-informed users behave.

Shutting down Yahoo Messenger with Voice
Closing Yahoo IM CNET Networks

Another gripe: it's always been hard to shut down Yahoo Messenger, which continues to run in the system tray after I close the window (see left). At the same time, I really like Yahoo Messenger's cool plug-ins that expand the way you can interact with chatting buddies. However, is the intrusiveness worth it?

Those who would shake their heads to that might prefer installation-free instant messaging, such as Meebo, or Gmail's built-in chatting. I wish IM were built into the excellent Yahoo Mail. In the meantime, I put together a video that shows what you need to do to avoid any unwanted add-ons accompanying Yahoo Messenger with Voice.

Note: In this video, I said that Yahoo called this update "highly critical." In fact, Yahoo called the update "highly recommended."