Use Older Versions of Windows Live Messenger or MSN Messenger Instead of Skype

If you’re a Windows Live Messenger user or even a lover of the older versions of MSN Messenger before it became Windows Live, you will no doubt be aware of the discontinuation of the Messenger service in 2013. Even though Microsoft is pushing all of us onto Skype, there are still millions of users who really don’t like it and think Skype really isn’t ready to be a complete replacement for Messenger with several features still missing, not to mention the huge amount of resources and wasted screen space Skype consumes over it predecessor.

Although Microsoft have said that Messenger has been discontinued starting March of 2013, it is widely believed that the Messenger service itself won’t be completely switched off until around spring 2014. So if you’re a lover of Messenger and don’t care much for Skype, you still potentially have up until that time to continue using the Messenger service. The problem that you have now is when you try to log into Messenger, most users will receive a message saying “A newer version is available. You must install the newer version in order to continue” that tries to force an upgrade from Messenger to Skype and you cannot continue unless you click Yes.

A newer version is available. You must install the newer version in order to continue

Getting this must install message isn’t much fun if you don’t want Skype because it’s basically giving you the choice of Skype or nothing. This problem will appear on just about all versions of Messenger going back to 8.5, 7.5 and maybe even beyond meaning you simply cannot connect until an upgrade is performed.

The good thing is though, there are workarounds allowing you to continue using Messenger right up until the service is completely cut off, and you don’t yet have to do want Microsoft wants you to do and upgrade (or downgrade depending on your point of view). Here are some solutions to help you carry on with your current version of Messenger for as long as possible.

The Manual Solution

This workaround is to trick the MSN chat servers into believing you aren’t using a Messenger client at all. When Messenger connects it sends some identifier strings (including MSNMSGR and msmsgs) to the MSN server to say it’s trying to connect . Now that Microsoft is trying to get everybody off WLM and onto Skype, the server reads those strings and sends back the forced upgrade message.


Our solution is to change the strings that get sent so the server won’t identify your client as Messenger, and therefore won’t force you to update the version you’re running. This needs to be done using a Hex editor to edit the Messenger executable in Program Files. If you’re doing this, MAKE SURE your WLM client isn’t running in the background or it won’t edit.

We’ve done this for four different versions of Windows Live Messenger (5 if you include WLM 2011), so make sure you have the exact version listed or it won’t work, if not download and install the correct one. They are:

WLM 2012 (16.4.3505) | WLM 2009 (14.0.8117) | WLM 8.5.1302 | MSN 7.5.0324

1. Download the HxD Hex editor and install it, a portable version is also available.

2. Go to C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Messenger and make a backup copy of the msnmsgr.exe file, 64-bit users go to “Program Files (x86)”. For 7.5 go to Program Files\MSN Messenger.

backup msnmsgr

3. Run HxD and drop the msnmsgr.exe file onto the window or click the open button/menu and locate it.

4. This next step requires you to locate 2 different hex addresses depending on which of the WLM versions you’re running. Press Ctrl+G in HxD to bring up the Goto window. If the cursor defaults to hex editing in the main window after typing the goto offset, press tab and switch to text.

For MSN Messenger 7.5.0324

Type 2C158 and press enter, then type the number 0. Press Ctrl+G, type 57688 into the box, hit enter and type another zero (0). Click the Save button.

hexedit MSN 7.5.0324

For Windows Live Messenger 8.5.1302

Enter 76B48 into the box and press enter, then type the number 0. Press Ctrl+G again, type 85ACC into the box and press enter. Type another 0, then click the Save button and close HxD.

hexedit WLM 8.5.1302

For Windows Live Messenger 2009 (14.0.8117)

Type 61A40 into the Goto box, press enter and type 0. Back in the Goto box (Ctrl+G), enter 7B634, press enter and type another 0. Save the edited file.

Windows Live Messenger 2009

For Windows Live Messenger 2012 (16.4.3505) & 2011 (15.4.3555)

WLM 2012 and 2011 are slightly different to the others because the value to change isn’t in the msnmsgr.exe file and instead you need to open the C:\Program Files\ Windows Live\Contacts\PresenceIM.dll file in HxD.

The good news is there’s only a single value that needs changing. Goto (Ctrl+G) offset 6F588 and type in a 0. Then Save the file (make sure to back it up first). The offset for WLM 2011 is slightly different being 4CE88 in the PresenceIM.dll file.


Now if you try connecting, the Messenger service server thinks that you’re connected using something other than Windows Live Messenger. You shouldn’t get any more nags and and it won’t try to force you onto Skype up until the service is completely terminated in 2014.

0snmsgr 0smsgs

If you prefer something easier, have a look at a few more methods on page 2.

A Possible Simple solution

Believe it or not, there is a very simple workaround to stop Windows Messenger popping up the upgrade or quit message which seems to work quite often. This is perhaps more suited to early versions of Messenger because on WLM 2012 and 2011 it can cause a few graphical glitches, but on 2009 and below it seems to work OK.

The answer is simply to change the compatibility mode for Messenger to Windows 2000 and rather oddly it won’t ask to upgrade. This could be related to the fact that Skype does not officially support Windows 2000, so doesn’t ask to install it. To enable Windows 2000 compatibility, right click on the Messenger desktop icon, click Properties and go to the Compatibility tab. Check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and select Windows 2000 from the drop down menu.

run Windows Live Messenger compatibility mode

The Automatic Solution

If you want the Messenger client you’re running to just work and don’t fancy editing files yourself, there is another solution to the problem. Jonathan Kay the author of the useful tool ZapMessenger which helps remove stubborn versions of Windows Messenger 2009 and below, has produced another tool that makes it easy to get back your Messenger if you have installed Skype, which will remove WLM by default.

Messenger Reviver 2 is a simple to use but effective tool that’s also a portable executable. In addition to reviving your WLM if it’s been removed by Skype (by performing a repair on Windows Live), the program can also download and install versions 2009 or 2012 of Live Messenger, also silently in the background if you wish.

Messenger Reviver 2

Messenger Reviver patches the WLM executable or DLL files in a similar way to our manual method on the first page and also creates a backup in case there’s a problem. The main window will differ slightly depending on what you already have installed. If you have no WLM, it will offer to download and install 2009 or 2012. If you have Skype installed which has disabled Messenger, Reviver will offer to repair the Live install to bring it back. And lastly, if you have the standard untouched WLM, Messenger Reviver offers to patch it and remove the forced upgrade or nag windows.

auto download and install windows live messenger

Messenger Reviver 2 is a handy little tool to try and keep your Messenger running as long as possible, and it’s worth checking the website quite often because the tool has only been out a few days at the time of writing and already there’s been four updates for it. It works on Windows XP or above and requires the .NET Framework 2 to run.

Download Messenger Reviver 2

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