Yahoo Messenger

Product Review–Yahoo Messenger

Test run July 20, 2005, default settings on clean install of Windows XP Home, OEM edition. Unpatched, no service packs, antivirus, or blocking software. Hardware firewall was the only security in place.

Version tested: Listed in ‘About’ box as “Yahoo! Messenger and MyYahoo Module, (C)1997-2004.”

Summary: Not evil, and not adware. Not harmless, either–it’s a massive set of changes to the system. Uninstallation is massively incomplete. Utility and value are dubious.

Recommendation, Business systems: Unwarrantied product with invasive settings. Prohibit all installations. Should be removed without option as part of all standard maintenance on corporate PCs.

Recommendation, Personal systems: Advise removal–there are too many autoplays and performance hits. Yahoo mail customers are vastly better off getting their emails from the ‘MyYahoo’ service, which requires no software installation. Could be left behind on non-networked systems with only one educated user, if adequate system speed is available to counter the slowdown caused by the software.


The license agreement was the usual bizare set of disclaimers, not as bad as most, not as fair as it could be. There was one term that was interesting–note the absolute lack of notice when they decide to convert the service into anything else. There are no limits, and no notice, and no recourse.

Yahoo! reserves the right at any time and from time to time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Service (or any part thereof), with or without notice. You agree that Yahoo! shall not be liable to you or to any third party for any modifcation, suspension or discontinuance of the Service.”


The installation ran smoothly. It’s the type that does the download during the install (5.37 Mb), but does calculate and display the time needed. For the test, I chose the defaults for everything. The ‘Anti-Spy’ button on the toolbar, on first press, offers to download and install, and has its own license agreement. There is a default checkbox on the Anti-Spy product that changes Yahoo! to the default search engine.

Misleading: One program install results in three entries under Add/Remove programs, for Yahoo! extras, Yahoo! Messenger, and Yahoo! Toolbar. The ‘Yahoo! Anti-Spy’ product has its own Add/Remove entry, matching the install.

Added to running files:
C:\Program Files\Messenger\msmsgs.exe
C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Messenger\ypager.exe

System settings changes, according to HijackThis:
R1 – HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =*

R1 – HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page =*

R1 – HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL =*

R1 – HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =*

R1 – HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page =*

R1 – HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) =*

O2 – BHO: Yahoo! Companion BHO – {02478D38-C3F9-4efb-9B51-7695ECA05670} –

O3 – Toolbar: &Yahoo! Companion – {EF99BD32-C1FB-11D2-892F-0090271D4F88} –

O4 – HKCU\..\Run: [Yahoo! Pager] C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Messenger\ypager.exe -quiet

O8 – Extra context menu item: &Yahoo! Search – file:///C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Common/ycsrch.htm

O8 – Extra context menu item: Yahoo! &Dictionary – file:///C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Common/ycdict.htm

O8 – Extra context menu item: Yahoo! &Maps – file:///C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Common/ycmap.htm

O9 – Extra button: Messenger – {4528BBE0-4E08-11D5-AD55-00010333D0AD} – C:\Program

O9 – Extra ‘Tools’ menuitem: Yahoo! Messenger – {4528BBE0-4E08-11D5-AD55-00010333D0AD} –
C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Messenger\yhexbmes0521.dll


All FOUR uninstall programs completed without failures or warnings.

These three settings were left behind:

R1 – HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =*

R1 – HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar =*

R1 – HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) =*

Yahoo shortcuts were left behind, in Favorites and in Links.
In the read-only folder “C:\Program Files\Yahoo!” 221 files and 20 folders were left behind, total 12.4 Mb.

In the read-only folder “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\SIGNUP\Yahoo” 8 files were left behind, total 168 Kb.

On a second installation after removal, the Yahoo Messenger install program advised me that it was already installed–was I sure that I wanted to install it anyway? My interpretation–even Yahoo’s software detects that their uninstall is incomplete.


Interesting follow-up, post-test: Yahoo sent an email message to confirm that I had activated the toolbar, and mention their use of email bugs (which they call ‘web beacons’) to confirm that I had read it. The email did NOT include any removal instructions for either the email message or the toolbar itself.

From their privacy information, linked in the email: “Web pages may contain an electronic file called a web beacon, that allows a web site to count users who have visited that page or to access certain cookies.”

The email claims that the toolbar provides these benefits, among others (not tested):
“Protect your PC with powerful anti-spy technology…”
“…Eliminate annoying pop-up ads with Pop-Up Blocker.”

From the email itself: “You may have noticed a powerful tool from Yahoo! that resides on your browser. It’s called the Yahoo! Toolbar and it was voted CNET Editors’ Choice in November 2004.
So what’s that mean for you?
It means you have more control over your web browsing experience. And since the Yahoo! Toolbar is customizable, you get quick and easy access to all the things that interest you the most…”
“…This is a service email related to your use of the Yahoo! Toolbar. Please do not respond to this email. To learn more about Yahoo!’s use of personal information, including the use of web beacons in HTML-based email, please read our Privacy Policy. Yahoo! is located at 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089.”