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The latest version of Messenger (i.e. Windows Live Messenger 2011) will only install on Windows 7.

Not to mention the "forced" upgrades to 2011:

I've spent a couple hours on Google and there doesn't seem to be solution (other than staying with 2009 version).

Is there any way to "trick it" into installing on Windows XP?

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Unfortunately no, WLM2011 requires Vista+ to install.

Windows Live Essentials 2011 requires the following:

Operating system: 32- or 64-bit version of Windows 7, or Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Server 2008.

Perhaps look into an alternative?:

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