A few years ago, I dropped Yahoo! Messenger and never looked back. For a while, I used Trillian and that piece of code always exceeded my expectations. On the other hand, Trillian wasn’t exactly what I was looking for either, so I landed in Pidgin’s yard and this is where I currently stay, without a single solid reason to change my IM program again.
Well, today the time has come to take another look at this program. Maybe things have change in the meantime, right? If I really had to remember what rating would have been right for Yahoo! Messenger back in the day when I left it behind, I think 2.5 out of 5 stars would have been more than enough. Considering this, today’s review has a simple task – is Yahoo! Messenger 10 better? Obviously, most software reviews sites out there award it their badges just because it’s a popular program, but here, we only have on purpose: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Pidgin!
As I write this, there are two Yahoo! Messenger versions available to the public. First, it’s the stable release that I will be playing with today, labeled 10.0 (10.0.0.1270, if you want to know that much), then it’s also a Beta of the upcoming 11.0 release for the most adventurous ones – 184.108.40.2061, to be more precise. No need to tell you that we’re talking about a free program that’s swarming with ads, right?
The fact that Yahoo! Messenger 10 supports virtually all Windows versions shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s a pity there’s no real support for Linux or Mac, since the versions for those operating systems are virtually ancient, dating way back in 2003 (a Beta release for Mac OS X was released about 9 months ago, anyway, so Yahoo! Messenger may not be dead on that platform, at least not yet)…
… but when it comes to installing it, I suddenly wish some people behind it were dead! Just take a look at the Typical Install mode: Yahoo! Browser Plus, yahoo.com becomes your home page and, finally, Yahoo! is turned into your default search engine. Obviously, most people just click “Next” without paying attention to what they get. Even worse, the Yahoo! Toolbar can be avoided only if you go with a Custom Install and, as you probably imagined already, that’s exactly what I did!
While the setup package has only 409 KB in size, the installer had to download 19 MB of data to install Yahoo! Messenger 10 on my computer. If you go with a Typical Install or simply choose to get more than I did, you’ll probably need more space and to wait a little longer until you get to face the IM client.
If we forget about those damn ads that can’t be removed, I must admit that Yahoo! Messenger looks very good. Its interface is highly customizable, available in multiple languages and, in case you really need some help, the documentation will surely get you out of trouble, only that all the help you’ll get from this program is available online. Anyway, since there’s nothing to do with Yahoo! Messenger without being connected to the Internet, I don’t think this could be considered a problem… so let’s move on and see that huge amount of features, shall we?
As soon as the setup process ends, the Yahoo! Messenger program is automatically launched, inviting you to enter your ID and password, as well as to choose your language and a few login-related settings. If you don’t have an account already, you can click the first link at the bottom of the login screen and you’ll be able to get yours in just a few minutes. So far, so good…
… and it doesn’t get really bad for the average user – it only depends on what you need and how much advertising can you take before saying “Enough!!!” – but there’s also something larger than this that a lot of people don’t really care about, although they should. Yahoo! Messenger 10 comes with an impressive amount of features: you can make free PC-to-PC calls or PC-to-phone-calls for various fees, enjoy high quality full-screen video chat sessions, use avatars, emoticons, audibles and IMVironments to spice up your life, watch videos using the built-in media player, send files to your buddies and more. Unfortunately, these turn Yahoo! Messenger 10 into a real memory hog – officially, it’s supposed that a PC with 512 MB of memory should be enough, but look at this – I only connected to my account, added three plugins, started a conversation, and Yahoo! Messenger 10 uses between 60 and 100 MB of memory, as well as 100 MB of my swap file!
Sure, the average Jane/Joe with a decent computer probably don’t care about the amount of memory use by their IM software, as long as it works well, but they often end up asking themselves why is their computer slow without even dreaming that Yahoo! Messenger may be one of the reasons for their problems. Should I also add my concerns regarding security and those viruses that spread via Yahoo! Messenger, yet people using IM clients like Trillian or Pidgin never had to bother with? Well, let’s move on…
… because there are some things I am sure a lot of my friends love, such as Yahoo! Games or the new “Updates” tab that allows you to see all your contacts’ latest updates from Yahoo!, Flickr, Twitter and even more. On the other hand, I hate such things. Why? Some of you may say I’m old school, but it’s not that – it’s just the fact that everything’s getting way too robotic, if I can call it this way. I don’t want automatic updates, I want my friends to talk to me. I don’t want mass messages or status updates like “I am going to the club. Who’s coming?” simply because I like to be invited as a person, not considered just another pawn in the crowd. Well, I am sure you got the idea, so… what else can be said about Yahoo! Messenger 10?
Ads are extremely annoying and, no matter what you do, you won’t escape them. I really think they should release a paid version for people who don’t want ads. After all, I am sure a lot of people would pay some money to have all the junk removed and only get what they need – a program that allows them to stay in touch with family and friends, nothing more.
A bit earlier, I mentioned plugins, so let me add a few words about them. Some of them are really interesting, for example the eBay or Yahoo! Answers one. Well, these are the ones that seem interesting to me – other people will surely enjoy Yahoo! Messenger Games or Yahoo! Music, no doubt about it.
During the last few years, the quality of video and audio communication via Yahoo! Messenger improved a lot so, if you really hate Skype, there’s no need to bother and look for another video/audio chat solution. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of things remaining that can be improved… but I’m not the one in charge with this product, so let’s end this part and try to give you a few ideas on making your life with Yahoo! Messenger 10 better, until they make it better…
Tips & Tricks
1. Plugins are cool, no doubt about it. If you’re using a slow computer, please don’t add any plugin or IMVironment and disable audibles. This may turn your Yahoo! Messenger into a less cool application, but you won’t have to wait for ages for your computer to respond when issued a command…
2. By default, Yahoo! Messenger can be quite a nuisance – be sure to disable sounds and popups if you want to live happily ever after!
3. If you have enough bandwidth at your disposal, you may consider using the Better Quality setting. The default is Faster Speed and it can be changed in Preferences> Webcam Broadcast.
Yahoo! Messenger 10 is, probably, still the most popular IM program in the wild, especially with newcomers. It works well on all Windows operating systems, supports most languages on Earth and allows you to do a lot of things… maybe even too many, I dare to say!
Unfortunately, Yahoo! Messenger 10 is swarming with ads, it’s not secure as it should be, its (real!) system requirements aren’t exactly something to be proud of and, in the end, using it isn’t exactly easy – you don’t want to know how many users have no idea how to enable/disable chat history!!!
Yahoo! Messenger 10 is a giant with feet of clay, since it offers more and more features with each version, while reliability always remains the last one on its programmers’ “to do” list – or so it seems. I know a lot of people are happy with it and I must also confess that this program isn’t really a disaster – I’ve seen a lot much worse, but you know what’s the truth? The truth is that Yahoo! Messenger has so many users who say they’re happy with it simply because they didn’t even try to find something better…