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Yahoo Messenger shutting down, new messaging app Yahoo Squirrel is in beta (techcrunch.com)
54 points by thecodeboy on June 8, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

Sad to see, but I've been waiting for this moment for years.

My first "real" job was as an intern on the Yahoo! Messenger team where I worked on both the Windows and Mac versions more than ten years ago.

Back in those days while I had been sad that XMPP never took off, I had accepted that if you wanted to make cool IM client interfaces and get them in front of a lot of real people, you had to work on one of the big popular proprietary ones.

It was an amazing experience working on it. When I went back to school after the internship, I observed people at school who I never met using features I wrote during my internship! How cool is that? Given that experience, I've always had a soft spot for Yahoo! and dreaded the growing inevitability of today's announcement.

In the years since, my passion for IM has been a largely sad one. I promoted Google Talk heavily when it came out due to it being based on XMPP, only to see Google bait and switch us. Then I resigned myself back to proprietary IM hell for a while as getting people to use XMPP seemed increasingly ridiculous as its user experience lagged further and further behind Hangouts, iMessage, etc, etc...

Then eventually the Riot IM client came out and I got excited about IM again. One of many clients built atop the new Matrix protocol which styles itself as a successor to XMPP, Riot was the first IM client I'd ever used that felt like it rivaled the big players in IM in terms of user experience.

While my career has moved on from coding IM clients, I am glad to say I've helped the Matrix/Riot folks a small amount with coding and localization. And most importantly I cheer them on publicly and privately every chance I get.

What I don't get, as an outsider, is how these chat clients don't seem to change over time in any kind of progressive direction.

It seems that products like AIM, ICQ, Facebook Messenger, Skype, cuseeme, etc. go through this lifecycle of (a) reaching MVP status, (b) stagnation, (c) deterioration and (d) people jumping ship to some other product at stage (a).

The new product seems better than the deteriorated old product but doesn't seem better than I remember the old product being back when it was at stage(a). Why?

(b) is not stagnation, it’s feature completeness.

For example, Skype hit that very early on - you were able to make and receive voip calls of a very good quality, zeroconf, for free. It really didn’t need anything else. It just did one thing really well. That’s not stagnation.

I don't know if this was because Skype was developed before the “mobile wave", but to this day it's still not a great app to make calls from through mobile.

Whenever I'm calling over 3G/4G it often disconnects, and I'm not the only person who seems to have this issue.

WhatsApp seems to be a lot better for mobile calling

These Web 2.0 service names are getting out of hand.

Not sure we're still in Web 2.0, if we were it would be called Squirrl.

Maybe it's time to bump the version number to 3.0?

Web 3.0 was supposed to be the Semantic Web.

I don't think there are version numbers anymore. The web's now evergreen.


Which would be hosted at sqrl.io, naturally.

I haven't thought about Yahoo Messenger in years, maybe a decade+. I'm looking forward to see what my chat logs from back then contain; I think it might have been my primary communication method in high school.

Fun (actually it's not very fun) story... Some years ago I went and visited my parents house where I grew up. I actually found my old computer in the attic, that I hadn't used since I was 15-16 or so.

I was excited to see what it contained. Among it was a bunch of saved memes (remember when memes used to last like a year instead of 15 hours?).

I also found AIM chat logs that I decided to look at. I was absolutely shocked by what I saw (I mean, really floored).

I was SO ... so.... so..... incredibly negative. I mean, where every word was scathing, hurt, defensive, judgmental, awful. It was absolutely painful to read, BUT, it showed me something really eye opening which was that, I think fairly early on in my life I realized I was like this and I tried everything in my power to do things outside my comfort zone and to force myself to grow past negativity. It really pleased me to see that because it showed me my efforts worked, as currently (and at the age when I visited my parents, maybe 29 or 30), I'm generally very happy, not judgmental.. I do get irritated at some things and I'm not perfect of course, but I would give myself an 8 out of 10 on the carefree/happy/non-judgmental scale.

So, all in all was a good, albeit super salty, experience.

Edit; I Should probably mention I do reserve quite a bit of judgment (cough* you dont use vim????) in my technical sphere, but this post is mostly referring to personal things.

I had a similar experience when I rediscovered my Livejournal from back in the day.

If I didn't know I was the one that wrote it, I would've considered the author either an angsty ragemonster or just a plain old sociopath.

My, how the years change us. I'm really happy, compared to where I was 20ish years ago.

Before Facebook and smart phones became so ubiquitous and with all the features that MySpace lacked i think MSN/AIM were everyone's go to communication tool.

Think of the wealth of data they had in their hands and let slip away.

How much wealth does the chattering of a million angsty 13 year olds contain?

We collect data on and advertise to children all the time. They have limited influence over their parents income.

> I'm looking forward to see what my chat logs from back then contain

Best of luck with that... you'll probably be looking backward rather than forward...

(That website won't let me read it unless I “consent” to tracking.)

Which communication protocol is this using? XMPP? Matrix? ActivityPub? A well-specified encryption scheme on top of email?

I'm guessing this is yet another communication app that won't communicate with anything but itself, because its features are so very unique and innovative.

Yahoo Messenger used to be at least as popular as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are right now in certain countries (at least in terms of percentage of internet users in their respective periods).

Yahoo Messenger losing its relevance was an even bigger failure than Google killing Gtalk (at least Google sort of continued it through the resource and data hog Hangouts).

In Romania at least it was what Facebook is these days, basically. Everyone had an Yahoo user for Messenger (and Mail, but Messenger was bigger). Companies would post their Yahoo Messenger user on their sites and billboards (!) so that clients could contact them.

I can't fathom how they managed to not have decent clients for every mobile platform...

> But like other services in that first generation of messaging, Messenger’s role and functions were swiftly surpassed by faster and more functional mobile-based services, and specifically mobile messaging apps. Notably, WhatsApp was created by ex-Yahoo employees.

If we ignore the mobile aspect, almost no modern messenger has as many features as Yahoo Messenger used to have. Notably, it was one of the first messengers to have offline messages. You could set an "invisible" mode so that your friends (or boss) wouldn't see you online, either globally, or just per user (basically ignore user). It had a million features, some I still don't see in modern messaging clients.

Their Messenger platform as first written was a buggy, leaky Java mess. They 'solved' that by running thousands of blade servers and rebooting them round-robin every few hours. Instead of actually investing in the product by debugging/reimplementing for instance. I guess chat wasn't a glamorous product at Yahoo! so nobody wanted to waste their career on it.

> I guess chat wasn't a glamorous product at Yahoo! so nobody wanted to waste their career on it.

Perhaps not glamorous, but it was possibly the most dog-fooded product for all employees – at least IME. Literally every single person I ever interacted with while working there (for 11 years) used it as their primary means of communication with other colleagues. Up to and including David Filo (memories of "hey, Yahoo! Greece homepage is down, can you help?" popping up on my screen one morning)

It would make sense for it to be used by people. In Romania there was no big marketing campaign for it, so it basically spread just based on word of mouth reputation. It beat out MSN, ICQ, AOL quite handily. It was kind of a memory hog for the time and relatively unstable ocasionally but the set of features was great.

Yahoo went mobile very early (like 2000s with WAP and all that), saw little adoption and as a result didn't prioritize it; also, for at least until I left in 2011, 'mobile' was a central org that assisted properties, which was a giant pain to work with. Messenger mobile was there, but as an SMS gateway, not an app.

Aim and yahoo both threw away massive social networks through neglect.

Did they? I used both heavily from elementary school through a large portion of college. They constantly added features and it was a time when it was exciting to receive updates. I feel they just went through the natural social network lifecycle. My friends and I didn't try Facebook and others because there was a problem. They were simply new.

After Aol bought time warner and the dotcom crash happened, time warner basically cut the team down to the bone. There were a handful of people working on it when I was at aol. Their big monetization play was selling enterprise AIM to a few brokerages on wall street.

AIM could have been facebook, it could have been slack, or skype. The management was just incredibly short sighted and couldn't figure out how to make money from it.

Imagine if yahoo had added web chat to the bottom of every yahoo, yahoo news, yahoo finance, yahoo sports, yahoo fantasy etc page, ala Facebook. No-matter where you go on yahoo, your buddies are on the right, and chat windows on the bottom. Page reloads would not disrupt chat.


Same goes for AOL. No other company really understands what facebook has done yet. They have a two layer app, that lets you use both parts simultaneously, independently, or together. Its a different form of window management. I can drag from the background news app to the foreground chat app to share a post in a message.

Honestly sounds terrible and distracting. I miss the dedicated client that would just be another unassuming program unless I was actively chatting. Ive moved over to messenger.com and the dedicated hangouts page because it's harder to have a conversation when so much other stuff is vying for your attention. Still frustrating that I have to remember to open tabs for a bunch of different sites.

I think so, yeah. The networks were already there; if they had the foresight to see how FB would eat their lunch, they potentially could have integrated customizable user profile features w/ a "wall"-like functionality into the chat platform, and nipped FB in the bud when it was still perceived as a white-collar walled garden (a rep that persisted for a couple years even after they opened it up beyond EDU). "Facebook is for college snobs; Yahoo is for everyone!"

That's where Facebook really has done remarkably well: their users haven't moved on, like the users of AOL, MySpace &c. did. Why not? I don't really know. It could be that Facebook executes well, but it could also be that they got lucky: they were the first truly global social network (approximately ⅓ of the world use their product), and once someone got that big it would be difficult for any competitor to establish a foothold.

Facebook really hasn't been around that long. Thinking about my AOL usage, I was a regular user for nearly a decade and it continued supplementing my messaging needs for some years after that. I've been on Facebook for nearly the same amount of time, I got in when they opened it up to high school email accounts. It has become pretty common for me to talk to more and more people on services like Hangouts, LINE, Snapchat, even occasionally WeChat. Unlike AIM and Yahoo Messenger theres an ever increasing reason to move away from the Messenger/Facebook platform in the eyes of more and more people. The cycle is starting to play out. I think FB as a company will stick around longer since they continue to buy other popular platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp but someone will eventually decide not to sell.

Microsoft as well. MSN Messenger was absolutely massive in some countries.

and aim direct connect is still better for sending large files than anything we have now.

I wasn't aware it was still online...

Somewhat offtopic, but related - Any else remember Yahoo Messenger (new beta) being an evangelist for WPF in the mainstream? Which didn't pan out iirc, infact did any mainstream commercials apps, thus excluding internal LOBs launch, even make it on to WPF? ~2009

Visual Studio started using WPF from 2010 on. It turned out not to be an exactly convincing example. It was slower than VS 2008 and lost a ton of features. Can't think of any other commercial app. MS certainly didn't bother porting anything to WPF.

Don’t forget that UWP is the bastard child of WPF

And Silverlight and WinRT. I still don't understand why they couldn't keep developing WPF instead of shipping a new framework every 2 years.

Pessimistic answer:

Ever seen that joke graphic with the org charts of various tech companies, where Microsoft's is a bunch of nodes with little hands sticking out and pointing guns at each other?

WPF was a product of the .NET team. WinRT was owned by the Windows team. The two have had a rivalry that's famous for producing collateral damage.

Optimistic answer:

WinRT was designed to be consumable from many languages and platforms, not just .NET. They preserved as much as they could (e.g., xaml), but you can't rewrite the core of a thing without a few growing pains.

Typical MS roadmap schizophrenia. Honestly I maintain some WPF hanging out of the side of a product and I wish I had built it in winforms now.

I don't know if YMSG is still supported, but it's sad to think the first network protocol I spent serious time reversing is now dead.

This is off-topic but...reading the article I wondered what happened to all that personal information we put into services like Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Mail?

At least in the US there is no guardrail that would prevent mining the data for any purpose its current overlords deem useful. That includes reselling it to others.

Who uses Yahoo still? Genuinely curious. I thought it was dead.

I think it's traders in general. I know it's used by US equities traders. I think it was referenced as being used in the LIBOR manipulation scandal, as well.

in general commodity traders (power, gas, oil...)

Yahoo Finance and Sports are still very popular around the globe, and Yahoo Japan is among the top few websites visited in the country.

There are still a few Yahoo! Groups I'm a part of that are resistent to moving on to greener pastures (such as Groups.io). That and Flickr (which will be free of Yahoo! soon enough) are the only two reasons I still have an account.

I've had my Yahoo mail account forever and I still use it. It's my public facing email account, which will receive very few important things, and no one I actually know uses it to contact me.

I still use Yahoo mail. Happy user since 1990something. I use gmail as well, but I consider it inferior. They both have problems, but at least Yahoo mail's problems are consistent.

Yahoo Auction is also still very popular in Japan.

I met my ex-wife on Yahoo messenger.

Yahoo make great mobile products, looking forward to seeing Squirrel

ASL :(

Who thinks of these names anyways?

My guess its driven by what .com domain name they can afford to buy off someone.

I'd happily sell jaruzel.com to any company who wants to name their app after me. I'm worth about $1m I think.

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