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 with Voice, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, 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 spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten said that for avid Yahoo users, the included services are valuable and highlight the integration among all its tools.
"By setting it that way we're giving people choices. For people who want to download software in one fell swoop, they have that option. If they don't want it we give them the ability to customize it," Karlsten said.