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Nov 14 2010

Microsoft Temporarily Disables URLs in Windows Live Messenger

If you are using an older version of Windows Live Messenger you may have noticed that URLs have been disabled (i.e. they are not clickable). Microsoft has taken this step to help prevent a worm spreading through its instant messaging service (although presumably someone could still copy and paste the link manually into a browser).

As always, it’s usually best not to click on links from strangers but also to exercise caution when given URLs out of the blue from people on your contact list. I have had several cases where friends of mine have had their accounts hijacked and their accounts used to propagate spam and spim (spam sent via instant message). If you notice that the conversation is somewhat unusual for the person or the URL looks suspect (or perhaps hidden behind a short URL like bit.ly) then play it safe and don’t click on it.

Thankfully, users of Windows Live Messenger 2011 are unaffected by this change as there is built in URL protection as a result of Microsoft’s SmartScreen technology (also used in its Hotmail service and Internet Explorer) being incorporated into the client software.

Windows Live Messenger 2011 is available for Windows Vista (with Service Pack 2) and Windows 7. Unfortunately, Windows XP users will have to make do with the previous version of Windows Live Messenger. This is probably a good indication that users on Windows XP should consider upgrading to Windows 7 to gain extra security benefits afforded by later software and other technologies such as UAC (which is far less annoying in Windows 7 than Windows Vista).

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