Full ArticleSeptember 14, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Microsoft Corp. will force users of its aged MSN Messenger instant messaging software to upgrade to Windows Live Messenger 8.1 in response to a vulnerability in the older program that was made public Tuesday.
According to a blog post by a Microsoft security program manager who identified himself only as "Anand," the instant messaging service will require users to update to the safe Live Messenger 8.1.
"We will soon configure the service such that any user on Windows XP or later has to use Windows Live Messenger 8.1," Anand said. "When a user using an older version of Messenger tries to log in, the client will help the user with a mandatory upgrade to Messenger 8.1."
The update, he added, will be rolled out over several days, so users running MSN Messenger 6.2, 7.0 and 7.5, as well as Live Messenger 8.0, may not see the notification immediately. The dialogue will read: "A newer version is available. You must install the newer version in order to continue. Would you like to do this now?"
Windows Live Messenger 8.1 has been offered to users since February, but until now, the update has been optional. "Some of you might feel this inconvenient, but in order to protect you and protect the health of the network, we have chosen to take this step," Anand added.
The move isn't unprecedented. In early 2005, Microsoft made patched versions of MSN Messenger mandatory when security researchers posted attack code that targeted flaws that had been disclosed only hours before.
The vulnerability that prompted the compulsory upgrade was described by Microsoft in Tuesday's MS07-054 security bulletin, which only recommended that users upgrade. A bug in Messenger's webcam and video chat features was reported late last month on a Chinese-language security mailing list, and exploit code quickly followed. Users who accepted malicious webcam or video chat invitations risked losing control of their PC to hijacking attackers.