Yahoo! Messenger

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Posted by pompos 04/16/2009 @ 14:11

Tags : yahoo! messenger, instant messaging, telecommunication, technology

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Yahoo! Messenger

Yahoo! Messenger 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 March 9, 1998.

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 announced 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. As of October 25, 2008, Yahoo! Messenger for Vista version is no longer available.

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 .

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! 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 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 November 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.

This unexpected move resulted in hundreds of thousands of existing profiles being cleared of all information and images.

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 in coding.

Yahoo’s software now allows users with the most current updated versions (messenger 8 through 9) to utilize its webcam service. This option enables users from distances all over the world to view others who have installed a webcam on their end. The service is free with provided speeds averaging from a range in between 1 to 2 frames per second. The resolution of the images can be seen starting at 320 x 240 pixels or 640 x 480.

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, Pidgin) 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 to work.

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: 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. It has been discontinued.

The Mac OS X client version 3.0 Beta 3 has been released: file transfers have been re-enabled as have group conferences.

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.

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Yahoo! Messenger Protocol

The Yahoo! Messenger Protocol is the underlying network protocol used by the Yahoo! Messenger instant messaging client, for Yahoo!. Yahoo! Instant Messager supports many features beyond just messaging, including off-line messaging, file transfer, chat, conferencing, voice chat, webcams and avatars.

The purpose of the YMSG protocol is to provide a language and series of conventions for software communicating with Yahoo!'s Instant Messaging service. In essence YMSG performs the same role for IM as HTTP does for the World Wide Web. Unlike HTTP, however, YMSG is a proprietary standard, aligned only with a single messaging service provider (namely, Yahoo!). Rival messaging services have their own protocols, some based on open standards, others proprietary, each effectively fulfilling the same role with different mechanics.

One of the fundamental tenets of instant messaging is the notion that users can see when someone is connected to the network — known in the jargon as 'presence'. Yahoo!'s protocol uses the mechanics of a standard internet connection to achieve presence, the same connection it uses to send and receive data. In order for each user to remain 'visible' to other users on the service, signaling their availability, their Yahoo! IM client software must maintain a functional, open, network connection linking the client to Yahoo!'s IM servers.

As some organizations block communication on the port used by Yahoo! IM, either because they choose to whitelist certain types of internet usage (only web surfing and email, for example) or because they seek to blacklist instant messaging services, Yahoo! provides an alternative route for connecting to their service which mimics the HTTP protocol used by the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, as HTTP has no inherent sense of a persistent connection, Yahoo! instead relies on the client frequently contacting the server in order to approximate the sense of a connection required to give each user presence on the IM network.

Originally the YMSG login procedure suffered from a security flaw known as a replay attack, in which a given password (or other authentication information) is always identically scrambled when sent across the network. This allows any attacker who witnesses the transmission to merely reproduce the message verbatim in order to successfully log in, without actually needing to know the original password (or other details) which generated it. But some time around 2000 or 2001 Yahoo! upgraded its service to introduce a random element to each login attempt, defeating any further potential for replay attacks.

With the exception of the login authentication details, data sent over a YMSG connection is not encrypted. YMSG uses a binary format in which the text portions of the data are transmitted in plain view. Therefore, while it is difficult for an attacker to seize control of a Yahoo! IM account, it is quite easy for them to read all messages sent to and from the account holder, along with other details such as the list of friends, if the attacker has control of one of the computers through which the data is routed.

The YMSG protocol communicates between the client application, and a server, using a TCP/IP connection on port 5050 by default. Other ports may be used if this port is blocked. Alternatively, an HTTP route is also available for clients behind a well secured firewall, with HTTP requests being used to upload messages from the client, while downloading all messages which have accumulated on the server since the last request.

The client remains logged in for as long as the TCP/IP connection is kept open. Or, in the case of a client connected via HTTP, until the client fails to send a request for some time ('ping' messages are sent every thirty seconds or so).

Messages consist of a twenty byte header, followed by a variable length table of key/value pairs, where the key is an ASCII representation of a numeric code representing the field type, and the value is its associated data. A two byte separator, the hexadecimal values c0 80, are used to delimit each entry in this table.

Some parts of YMSG rely on other protocols. For example, file transfer is initially negotiated using YMSG, but the actual transfer of the file is done via HTTP. Webcams too use YMSG to discover and request permission to view a webcam, but HTTP to actually feed JPEG 2000 images from one client to another. Chatroom categories, rooms and lobbies are retrieved using HTTP as XML documents. Regular webcam connections use H.323. Yahoo! with voice uses SIP. For calls, VoIP is handled indirectly by Yahoo! servers so the chat client doesn't have direct access to it.

The chatroom categories can be retrieved from here.

The login process for YMSG is quite complex. First the client introduces itself with a message containing its username. The server responds with a rather long seed value, which looks like a mathematical equation. The client feeds this into a rather involved algorithm, along with the account's password, to produce two response values looking like variable assignments which are sent to the server. If these values match the server's expectations, the client is admitted and sent data associated with that account (such as buddy/friends lists).

Although the seed value looks like an equation, it is in reality little more than a series of instructions in which the operands control lookups into a series of in-built tables, and the operators determine which logic operation to perform. SHA1 is also used to create two message digest data arrays, which are then encoded using a table to resemble software variable assignments.

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Fire (instant messaging client)

Fire is the first instant messaging client for Mac OS X (previously for OPENSTEP), that can access IRC, Jabber, AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, and Bonjour. All services are built on GPL’d libraries, including firetalk, libfaim, libicq2000, libmsn, Jabber, and libyahoo2. Fire supports OS X v10.1 and higher.

The latest version of Fire (as of 2006-02-15) is 1.5.6. The program is released under the GNU General Public License.

On 2007-02-23, it was announced that there would be no future versions of Fire released. The official Fire website stated there were several reasons, the biggest being the loss of developers, followed by the fact that most components libraries used by Fire are no longer in active development. Two of Fire's developers have joined the Adium team and have written a transition path for users to move from Fire to Adium. The announcement also says to look to Adium for future IM needs.

In the early beta days of Mac OS X, Eric Peyton wanted to have an IM client which would run on this new OS. However, all of the official client vendors had not yet supported Mac OS X, so Peyton started expanding on an OPENSTEP project he had been working on, which used an open source library to connect with AIM servers. He started porting this using the new Cocoa libraries on OS X and a new IM client began to take shape.

Development in the early days was fast and furious and Fire was touted by Apple as one of the keystone applications on Mac OS X v10.0. Initially Peyton hosted the application and did all the development on his own equipment. He then formed the corporation "Epicware" to protect himself from the lawyers of the huge corporations he was interacting with.

The application was expanded to include the ability to talk to multiple servers. First Yahoo! Messenger and ICQ were added, followed later by IRC, MSN, and Jabber. Most recently, support for Bonjour was added.

In 2001, Colter Reed started contributing to the development of Fire on a regular basis and became the second major developer of Fire. They collaborated for a while using the Epicware hardware and finally decided to move the project to SourceForge to take advantage of the free hosting, download, and mirror services available there. Version 0.28.a was the first release which used the SourceForge System.

On 2007-02-23, development of Fire officially ended due to lack of developers.

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Comparison of instant messaging clients

The following tables compare general and technical information for a number of instant messaging clients. Please see the individual products' articles for further information. This article is not all-inclusive or necessarily up-to-date. External links lead to extensions that add a feature to a client.

The operating systems the clients can run on without emulation or compatibility layers.

Note 1: Not a dedicated Mac OS X but a POSIX application: Will need an X server and additional libraries installed, and will not look like a native Mac OS X application.

Note 2: Requires ANSI terminal. See e.g. Windows ANSI driver problem on how to load ANSI.SYS.

Note 3: MSN Web Messenger can be used with a compatible browser and valid Microsoft Passport Network account.

Note 4: Numerous talk/ytalk clients exist for Win32; others are available under the Cygwin environment.

Note 5: Only available in the upcoming version OpenWengo-ng already available through Subversion.

Note 6: Generally only available as source, not as a ready-to-install binary.

Note 8: It is called Messenger for Mac, currently version 7.

Information on the instant messaging protocols that each client supports.

Note 3: Interoperability with proprietary protocols can be achieved using server-side gateways (so-called transports) in Jabber.

Note 4: Plugin available, but requires installed and running Skype.

Note 5: LAN and chat protocols supported for Miranda include NetSend, WinPopup, Novell Netware NCP, BattleNet, Vypress Chat, Quick Chat, and Walla Chat.

Note 6: Uses the AIM TOC2 protocol, which has fewer features than the Oscar protocol the official client uses. An Oscar plugin is available, but is still in early development.

Note 8: Can only enter one ICQ/AOL IM account, so users who have both an ICQ number and an AOL IM account name, can't use both.

Note 9: Text-based messaging only; does not support Bonjour/iChat's audio IM functionality.

Note 10: Probably text-based messaging only, without support for Bonjour/iChat's audio IM functionality.

Note 11: Only trunk builds of Adium have IRC support, which is very limited.

Note 12: AIM interoperability: can send/receive to AIM from an ICQ account.

Note 13: The support is optional. It currently isn't feature-complete, but basic operations should be fine.

Note 14: Claims to be supported, though frequently fails to receive or deliver messages, and tends to crash when receiving multiuser chat invites or file transfer requests.

Note 15: Feature incomplete. Lacks service discovery and transport support, making user search, multiuser chat, connections to other IM networks via XMPP difficult or impossible.

Note 16: Yahoo! Messenger interoperability (some bugs): can send/receive to Yahoo! Messenger from a Windows Live Messenger on-line account. No audio or video support as of yet.

Note 17: Windows Live Messenger interoperability: can always send/receive to Windows Live Messenger from a Yahoo! Messenger account.

Note 18: Using IBM Sametime Gateway you can establish a server to server communication to other IM communities.

Note 19: With plug-in, requires Skype to be running.

Note 21: With using third-party plug-in "MirandaQQ" developed by Stark Wong from Hong Kong.

Note 23: No audio or video, and generally poor support for anything beyond the very basic in the protocol. So there is chat and smileys, but no Photo Album Sharing, SMS and the rest. Also, although the oficial client does have the ability to embed the communication through HTTP there is no such option for Gaim.

Note 24: among others, the privacy settings are not working Note 24: Access is denied in the Yahoo network as it uses a deprecated protocol.

Note 25: Bitlbee does not provide access to IRC. Instead users connect to it as if it were an IRC server so Bitlbee and IRC will both be used from the same IRC client.

Note 26: Digsby does not support XMPP conferences.

Information on what features each of the clients support.

Note 1: Plug-in system to add/expand the default features for the application, or protocol. Such as (but not limited to) Trillian chat client - Plugins.

Note 2: Third party add-ons which are usually not approved by the author of the application and are usually standalone. Such as (but not limited to) AOL Instant messenger - Third-party add-ons.

Note 3: Using third party add-on software. Consult the client's page for details.

Note 4: Proprietary; compatible only to itself.

Note 5: ICQ: SSL-encrypted direct connections; compatible between climm, licq and Sim-IM.

Note 6: Any protocol: GPG-encrypted messages.

Note 7: Blowfish-encrypted direct connection; compatible only to itself.

Note 8: Newer version Pidgin: Pidgin-encryption plugin, older version Gaim: Gaim-encryption plugin, available at pidgin-encrypt.sf.net. This plugin is compatible with Pidgin/Gaim clients only.

Note 9: Compatible with all Jabber clients implementing JEP-0027 (standard Jabber encryption).

Note 10: SecureIM plugin provides 192 bits AES Encryption, compatible only between Miranda clients.

Note 13: While IMVU does not allow add-ons to extend the client, registered accounts can create new content for use inside the simulation.

Note 14: IMVU logs all actions perceived by the client, including actions that do not have a textual result, making the log difficult to use for reading of messages.

Note 15: WebCam Video, a plugin for Miranda IM, allows for video chat between two users of the Miranda IM client through a different method than whichever protocol they may currently use.

Note 16: AES256-encrypted direct connection; compatible only to itself.

Note 17: Voice clips are fully supported in the stable version, while the audio conference feature is available only in the development version.

Note 19: The IRC client connecting to the bitlbee server should take care of this feature.

Note 20: The Jabberwocky client allows scripting in the ARexx language.

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Source : Wikipedia