Microsoft

Alleviate mysterious XP shutdown problems by disabling rogue Creative Labs program

The Creative Labs News Engine Update Application is causing an annoying system shutdown issue with Windows XP. Greg Shultz explains what you can do to battle this problem and cut down on unnecessary support calls.


Support professionals beware: The computers you upgraded to Windows XP that contain a Creative Labs SoundBlaster card (including the full complement of SoundBlaster applications) may fall prey to a mysterious shutdown problem. Now, before you e-mail Bill Gates expressing your frustration, let me point out that this isn’t one of the typical shutdown problems like the ones that plagued previous versions of Windows. In fact, the problem really isn’t a Windows issue at all. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll examine the problem in detail and show you several methods you can use to either disable or remove from Windows XP the culprit—the News Engine Update Application—without affecting other SoundBlaster applications.

Another reason to get rid of it
The News Engine Update Application isn’t crucial to the operation of any of the Creative Labs applications or to Windows XP itself. Thus, there is a side benefit to its removal. When the News Engine Update Application is running normally and has access to a broadband Internet connection, it can unnecessarily waste network bandwidth as well as eat up valuable system resources.

News Engine Update Application origins
The problem originates when the Windows XP Send Error Report dialog box reports that a program called the News Engine Update Application has encountered a problem and prompts you to send the error report to Microsoft (Figure A). This dialog box is generated by Windows XP’s error reporting service, which is designed to intercept error situations and prompt you to report them to Microsoft. If you choose to do so, technical information about the problem is collected and then sent to Microsoft, who will then use it to address common problems in future updates.

When you initially encounter this error report, you might assume that the News Engine Update Application has something to do with Windows Update or some other bona fide Windows application. However, there’s nothing in the dialog box text or in the name of the failing application to alert you to its source.

Figure A
When the News Engine Update Application encounters a problem during shutdown, Windows XP’s error reporting service stops the shutdown operation to report the problem.


After some digging, I discovered that the News Engine Update Application is actually an undocumented Creative Labs program that’s designed to alert users to software and hardware product updates. This program launches at startup, runs in the background, and regularly contacts a Creative Labs server when a user connects to the Internet.

Nagging problem
When this error-logging problem occurs, it prevents the system from continuing the shutdown or restart operation. Under normal operation, you’ll see these types of dialog boxes occasionally, if and when an application locks up. However, once the News Engine Update Application crashes, it causes these error messages to appear almost every time you shut down or restart Windows XP. As you can imagine, this can be extremely annoying to your users and can cause a lot of unnecessary technical support calls.

Since it isn’t crucial to the operation of any of the Creative Labs applications or to Windows XP itself, your first thought will be to just disable the application. Sounds simple enough. However, here’s where the problem can get frustrating: Some of the earlier versions of the News Engine Update Application do not provide an option for disabling it, which means that you have to revert to manually deleting files and editing the registry. To further complicate matters, it’s been reported that disabling this feature on those versions that do provide you with that option do not always work. As such, you may end up having to use a manual removal procedure (Method 4, below).

Disabling the News Engine Update Application
Method 1: Running the News Engine Update Application
The first method for disabling the News Engine Update Application involves running the application. To begin, open Windows Explorer and locate the News Engine Update Application’s executable file—NewsUpd.exe—in the C:\Program files\Creative\News folder. (If your PC network consists of Dell systems that came with the SoundBlaster card and the full complement of SoundBlaster applications, you may find that the News Engine Update Application’s executable file is called UpdTray.exe.) When you double-click the file, depending on the News Engine Update Application version installed, you may see a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Running the News Engine Update Application’s executable file may yield a prompt to disable the feature.


Disable the News Engine Update Application by clicking Yes and complete the disable operation by restarting your system.

Method 2: Using Creative Launcher
The second method for disabling the News Engine Update Application makes use of an option in the Creative Launcher, which is a floating toolbar with all sorts of SoundBlaster configuration options. If the Creative Launcher isn’t running, you can access it by clicking Start | All Programs | Creative and selecting the Creative Launcher item.

Once you see the Creative Launcher at the top of the screen, select the Live Task tab. Then, click the drop-down arrow next to the lightbulb icon and select the Monitor For Live! News Update option to remove the check mark, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
To complete the disable operation, you must restart your system.


Method 3: Using PlayCenter
The third method to disable the News Engine Update Application employs an option hidden in the PlayCenter application. To access this hidden option, launch PlayCenter as you normally would. Then, right-click on the Creative graphic. Select the Disable News Update item in the popup, and make sure that you see the check mark, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D
The PlayCenter application contains a hidden method of disabling the News Engine Update Application.


When you select the Disable News Update item, you may see a dialog box like the one shown above in Figure B. If you do, simply click Yes. Then, to complete the disable operation, you must restart your system.

Note
If you’re using both Creative Launcher and PlayCenter, you need to disable the News Engine Update Application in both of these applications.

Method 4: Manual removal
If your version of the News Engine Update Application doesn’t provide an option for disabling the feature, or if none of the previous methods works, you can use the manual method, in which you’ll delete some files and edit the registry. To begin, open Windows Explorer and locate the C:\Program files\Creative\News folder. Now, delete the entire News folder.

Next, access the Search tool from the Start menu. Then, select the C:\Windows folder using the Browse For Folder dialog box, which is accessible from the Look In drop-down list. Then, search for the files Ctnews.ini and Ctnet.ini. If you find these files, delete them.

Lastly, remove the key for the News Engine Update Application from the registry. Since editing the registry can be dangerous, you might want to consider performing a full backup before you attempt this operation. To begin, select the Run command on the Start menu and launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit.exe in the Open text box. Once you have the Registry Editor up and running, locate and double-click on the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. When this subtree is visible, open each of the following subtrees in succession:
  • ·        SOFTWARE
  • ·        Microsoft
  • ·        Windows
  • ·        CurrentVersion
  • ·        Run

Once you open the Run key, look for and delete the value that runs the News Engine Update Application’s executable file—NewsUpd.exe. After you do so, close the Registry Editor and restart your system.

News Engine Update Application in older Windows versions
The News Engine Update Application can be installed in earlier versions of Windows and might warrant removal if you are having unexplained system performance issues. Unlike the Windows XP operating system, which includes an enhanced error-reporting service, previous versions of Windows experiencing systemwide problems caused by the crashing News Engine Update Application are unable to report its source.

Conclusion
If you’re running Windows XP on a system that contains a Creative Labs SoundBlaster card along with the full complement of SoundBlaster applications, you may encounter a problem that occurs when you go to shut down or restart your system. The problem occurs when the News Engine Update Application goes down and is caught by the operating system’s error-reporting service, which can prove an unwanted annoyance to users. With the methods I've described above, however, you should be able to rid yourself—and your users—of the problems that the News Engine Update Application can cause.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox