If you're one of the tens of millions of Yahoo users asked to upgrade your instant-messaging software this week, be on your toes: The update can open the door to unwanted PC houseguests and setting changes--by default.
The newest free version of Yahoo Instant Messenger(YIM) boasts advanced Internet phone calling in a upgrade that comes "highly recommended" by Yahoo. By clicking "yes" to the update, a user can expect to get a slicker YIM interface with buttons to quickly chat, blog, swap photos or call someone online. It even has new smiley icons.
Those changes are what many might expect. What they may not expect are all the other tools they get when not paying attention.
By accepting Yahoo's "typical" installation of YIM, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains "live words," which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users' home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.
To avoid these changes, users must actively choose the "custom" installation and uncheck five boxes.
Yahoo would be thinking that most people won't care or notice the changes. But people like me will let you notice these things!