Yahoo Messenger Features Questioned In Reports

    September 2, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Some of the extras provided with the free instant messaging client have a few outlets crying foul.

Is Yahoo about to replace Google as the target of outrage in the hearts and minds of the media?

Recently, Yahoo updated its instant messenger client. Now called Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, the software allows for typical IM text messaging as well as PC to PC voice chat. Yahoo announced the upgrade on August 18.

Along with the IM client, Yahoo pushed along some other extras, like its toolbar, support for Y!Q Contextual searching, and LiveWords support within Messenger chats. They’re interesting features, and for the avid Terry Semel fan club they’re probably welcome additions to the browsing experience.

But Yahoo does slip in a couple of other changes that have outlets like CNET and others questioning Yahoo’s intentions. The default installation changes the user’s homepage to Yahoo and their default search to Yahoo’s search. Changing the search back prompts a popup asking if the user really wants to make that change.

Preventing these changes from happening in the first place means users have to do a custom install of the software. From there, users can uncheck which features they do not want as part of the installation.

“This is the first instance where you actually must go and do a custom install to control them from installing other software,” Ray Everett-Church, a principal at privacy consultancy PrivacyClue said in a report.

“Most folks go to the default install and are not expecting to get a whole suite of unasked-for software. That’s where the sneaky factor comes in.”

Sneaky? Possibly. Surprising? Shouldn’t be, except for newer users. Installing anything from AOL always tosses a Free Internet icon with the AOL logo on the desktop and in the start menu. Comparing Yahoo’s install to the actions of such infamous companies like Claria as CNET does may be a bit much.

Nefarious adware installs like Gator ate up system resources and were much more in-your-face on the desktop, along with being nearly impossible to remove from a system. Yahoo’s extra features can be turned off fairly easily, though the nice engineers at Sunnyvale could make that process more evident during installation.

Play nice, Yahoo. Try not to do evil, ok?

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.