Yahoo Messenger will soon die as Squirrel lives on in its wake

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Yahoo Messenger, one of the longest standing instant messaging applications, is set to close its doors for good on July 17. The service will continue to function as normal until then, but from that date onward, chats will no longer be accessible and instant messaging will cease to work.

The free messaging client first launched in March 1998 as Yahoo Pager and was renamed Yahoo Messenger a year later. In order to compete with its contemporaries like ICQ, Yahoo Messenger allowed users to customize the look of their client, write custom status messages and integrate their address book, alongside basic instant messaging functions. Over the years though, as its usage waned, Yahoo scaled back its deployment to just iOS, Android, and web clients, shuttering the Windows and Mac clients in August 2016.

Now the whole platform is shutting down for good. Yahoo claims that it is doing so to better address the changing communications landscape and that it would be focusing on “building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs.”

One of those is its currently invite-only group messaging application called Yahoo Squirrel, which offers customization and organizational tools for chatters beyond that of Yahoo Messenger. Although you can’t just sign up, Yahoo advises anyone interested to contact the email address on the Squirrel site to request an invite code.

For those who don’t want to lose access to the classic conversations they enjoyed on Yahoo Messenger in the future, they will be able to download the chat logs in their entirety for the next six months. To do so, head to the downloader request site, sign in and complete the verification system. Once done, you will be given access to download your chat logs.

While longtime fans of Yahoo Messenger may be saddened by its impending demise, it’s no surprise that such a service is no longer considered worthwhile by the company’s new owners at Verizon. With platforms like Facebook MessengerWhatsApp, and Snapchat sporting billions of combined users, Yahoo Messenger is not the competitive tool it once was. As TechCrunch points out, it’s likely that this move is part of Verizon’s own overhaul to focus more on content delivery across networks and platforms, rather than providing those digital pipelines itself.