Remove msgmsg.exe (Windows Messenger) from Windows XP?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Last Thursday, I wrote an article on how to disable Windows Messenger using a System Registryhack. To date, this Registry Hack is the *only* known way to disable Windows Messenger v4.7 permanently from Windows XP.

Most of the folks who are interested in disabling Windows Messenger v4.7 do so because they don't want it using up extra CPU or Memory, or because it's a service which isn't needed. From a security standpoint: the less unneeded services running on your system, the less chance of having a security exploit.

Disabling Windows Messenger v4.7 isn't as easy as modifying the program properties and telling Messenger not to load at the Startup, which is why the Registry Hack was suggested. This is because some programs in Windows XP (such as Outlook Express) use Messenger for related tasks (I.E.: hotmail email notifications), making it difficult to permanently remove Messenger from the system -- even after you tell it not to load at startup.

RE: 3 Flavors of Windows Messenger

The term "Windows Messenger" often confuses folks, as there are 3 flavors of Messenger:

  • Windows Messenger v4.7: an Internet chat program which loads automatically when Windows XP is started. To avoid any confusion, Windows Messenger v4.7 is what this article is referencing.
  • MSN Messenger v6.x: an update to Windows Messenger v4.7 that is separate from Messenger v4.7 (both can run at the same time, in fact) and is available from the Microsoft download page.
  • Windows Messenger Service: an administration utility originally intended for office administrators to send notifications to client machines connected to the office network (I.E.: "network will go down soon", or "important office meeting tonight").

Having said that, a number of Readers sent me solutions to disabling Windows Messenger service over this past weekend. As I have outlined above, the Messenger service is not related to Windows Messenger (or MSN Messenger, for that matter), and pertain to administration popup notifications.

OK, so why would anyone want to disable the Messenger Service?

Unfortunately, spammers exploited the Messenger service to send highly annoying "notification" advertisements to anyone connected to the Internet (running Windows NT, 2000 or XP). To see an example of what Messenger Spam looks like, click here. If you've been affected by this exploit, you can disable the Messenger service by reading this previous Gazette article. You can also disable the service by downloading "Shoot the Messenger" via Steve Gibson's web site, using XP-AntiSpy, or by using LavaSoft's AdAware Messenger plugin removal. All alternatives are freeware.

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