While Windows Messenger offers a fast, convenient way to communicate with friends and coworkers, it can also be a security concern and an annoyance. While surfing the Technical Q&A forum, I recently read a post from member Joea3320 who wanted to disable Windows Messenger on a Windows XP machine. Although Microsoft doesn’t provide an obvious method for uninstalling Windows Messenger, it does provide some instructions on disabling it. Here's a run down of Microsoft's process and a handy tip for removing Windows Messenger altogether.
The Microsoft-approved process
Member Dklippert was quick to direct Joea3320 to Microsoft Knowledge Base article "How to Prevent Windows Messenger from Running on a Windows XP-Based Computer: 302089," which outlines techniques for disabling Windows Messenger. The first step in the process is to determine which version of Windows XP (Home Edition or Professional Edition) and which version of Windows Messenger you're running. You can determine Messenger’s version by selecting About from its Help menu.
Windows XP Pro and Windows Messenger 4.0
If you are running Windows Messenger version 4.0 or later on a Windows XP Professional machine, enter the Gpedit.msc command at the Run prompt to open the Group Policy console. Navigate through the console tree to Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Messenger as shown in Figure A.
Double-click Do Not Allow Windows Messenger To Be Run in the right pane, click Enabled, and then click OK. Double-click Do Not Automatically Start Windows Messenger Initially in the right pane, click Enabled, and then click OK. Close the Group Policy console and Windows Messenger, if it was open. Windows Messenger shouldn’t bother you again, but as Microsoft points out, "This method also prevents programs that use the Messenger Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from using Windows Messenger. Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Outlook Express 6, and the Remote Assistance feature in Windows XP are examples of programs that use these APIs and that depend on Windows Messenger."
Windows XP Home and Windows Messenger 4.0
If you are running Windows Messenger version 4.0 on a machine that’s running Windows XP Home Edition, you’ll have to use a different procedure. Open Windows Messenger and click Tools | Options. When the Options properties sheet opens, select the Preferences tab. Deselect the Run This Program When Windows Starts check box and click OK. This will prevent the Windows Messenger from running when you start Windows, but users can still start Windows Messenger manually and it may be started automatically when you run Outlook or Outlook Express.
To keep Outlook Express from launching Windows Messenger, open Outlook Express and click Tools | Options. When you see the Options properties sheet, select the General tab, deselect the Automatically Log Onto Windows Messenger check box, and click OK.
If you need to prevent Outlook from loading the Windows Messenger, launch Outlook and click Tools | Options. When you see the Options properties sheet appear, select the Other tab, deselect the Enable Instant Messaging In Microsoft Outlook check box, and click OK.
Windows XP Home or Pro and Windows Messenger 4.5
If you are running version 4.5 or later of the Windows Messenger on a Windows XP Home Edition machine, you will need to edit the registry to disable the Windows Messenger. As always, you must exercise extreme caution when editing the registry.
Word of warning
The following article recommends ways to edit your system registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that could require you to reinstall your operating system and could possibly cause data loss. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.
Launch the Registry Editor and navigate through the registry tree to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft. With this key selected, choose the New command from the Edit menu. Create a new key, and call the key Messenger. This key is case sensitive.
Next, select the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Messenger key and select the New command from the Edit menu once again. Create a new registry key and call this key Client.
Then, select the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Messenger\Client key and select the New command from the Edit menu. This time you must create a new DWORD value called PreventRun. After you create the DWORD, modify it so that it has a value of 1, as shown in Figure B.
Close the Registry Editor. The new registry keys that you have created will prevent the Windows Messenger from running. Just remember that this method, as with the first method, "Prevents programs that use the Messenger Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from using Windows Messenger."
Removing Windows Messenger altogether
Unfortunately for Joea3320 none of the above methods provided the solution he was looking for. "Tried both ways and no luck," Joea3320 wrote. Luckily TheChas pointed Joea3320 to Web page on Windows-Help.NET that outlines a method of removal. This solution was also outlined on this Web page from Experts X Exchange.
Click Start | Run and enter the following command:
RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %windir%\INF\msmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove
If you're still having trouble, check out this Web page from DruiD628 Productions that outlines the methods listed above, as well as a more complicated technique that involves editing the Sysoc.inf file. Click here to read more about this method.