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Windows Messenger Service can cause popup messages, and can be abused to display popup ads. The easiest solution is to turn it off.

It's inevitable that software has bugs and that's bad enough. What's worse is when folks out on the internet try to sell you a solution that you can get for free.

I'm hearing reports of a popup message that will tell you that "A buffer overrun in messenger service Could Allow Code Execution" and includes a pointer to a web site that a) looks reasonably official, and b) contains links to a product you can purchase to resolve the vulnerability.

My question is this: why buy the product when you can get the fix for free?

The bug we're talking about is in the Windows Messenger Service. Let's be clear - that's not "Windows Messenger", but rather the "Windows Messenger Service". They are unfortunately similarly named but completely different animals. In fact I have an article that discusses the difference: What's the difference between Windows Live Messenger, Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Windows Messenger Service?.

So, step one is very simple: it's highly unlikely that you even need Windows Messenger Service. So turn it off. Press:

  • Start

  • Programs

  • Accessories

  • Administrative Tools

  • Computer Management

  • Services & Applications

  • Services

Now double click Messenger and set the Startup Type to Disabled. You can also "Stop" the service at that same dialog.

Without the service running you're no longer vulnerable to the bug and you should stop getting the annoying popups that sparked this question.

But what if you need Windows Messenger Service?

That's Simple. Easy, even.

And best of all, free.

Visit Microsoft's Windows Update. There you can automatically make sure your computer is up to date with all the latest and greatest fixes to Windows including the fix for Windows Messenger Service.

Visiting Windows Update is just a good thing to do every so often.

And finally, you can also grab a copy of 10 Quick Steps to Stopping Pop-Up Ads for help stopping this and other pop-up annoyances.

Article C1913 - March 25, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Pat Cross
April 18, 2004 5:41 PM

Reg. MS03-043, Need to eliminate, cannot follow your steps, as going to start, programs, accessories,do not find administrative tools. Have system tools only. Using XP.

Oh help please.

Leo
April 19, 2004 9:00 AM

Under windows XP you can also right click on "My Computer" and select "Manage".

Leo

Pat Cross
April 19, 2004 3:04 PM

Never mind Leo I found it.. Thanks anyhow.

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