Disabling Windows Messenger Service: Use AOL.
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Thread: Disabling Windows Messenger Service: Use AOL.

  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Disabling Windows Messenger Service: Use AOL.

    It figures. Microsoft never dealt with this so someone else had to do it:

    AOL Quietly Combats Pop-Up Spam Messages
    Even more annoying than junk e-mail are all the spam messages that "pop up" through a little-used feature in Windows. As part of its spam-fighting efforts, America Online has been turning off that feature for its customers without telling them.

    AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the feedback has been all positive, and he knows of no complaints to AOL call centers about side effects on other applications that may need that feature.

    Nonetheless, AOL's action worries some security experts who were told about it by The Associated Press.

    "They are trying to do the right thing ... but you sort of feel dirty after you hear it," said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer for Counterpane Internet Security Inc. "It's a very dangerous precedent in having companies go into your computer and turn things on and off."

    "From there," he added, "it's easy to turn off competitors' services."

    Pop-up spam differs from pop-up ads in that no Web browser or Web site visit is required. Instead, these ads take advantage of a messaging function built into many Windows operating systems.

    The function, generally enabled automatically when computers are shipped, was designed for computer network technicians to, for instance, warn people on their systems of a planned shutdown. Some applications also notify users of such actions as a network printer finishing a task.

    About a year ago, spammers figured out that they, too, could exploit it, making ads automatically appear on users' screens at any time.

    AOL — along with other Internet service providers and makers of security firewall products — responded by closing many of the Internet ports used, but closing all could disrupt other applications.

    AOL then developed a tool that users could run to turn off the feature entirely, but few bothered, even though complaints about such messages kept growing, Weinstein said.

    So two weeks ago, AOL began turning the feature off on customers' behalf, using a self-updating mechanism in AOL's software. But the setting changed is on Windows, not AOL's software. Users are not notified of the change, though they may manually turn the feature back on, and AOL won't change it again.
    Kudos to AOL for dealing with this, darts to MS for not. Lazy bastards!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Zonewalker's Avatar
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    mmm... I have to disagree with you there MsM.... I'm kind of with Bruce Schneier - whilst it is laudable that AOL are trying to do something about it - I personally loathe the thought that my ISP would start rummaging around my system turning off what they want. I think users are as much lazy bastards as MS. Of course none of this would have been necessary if it weren't for the spammers and marketing types...

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  3. #3
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Originally posted here by Zonewalker
    Of course none of this would have been necessary if it weren't for the spammers and marketing types...
    The ISP was probably fed up with receiving complaints from users about it and dealt with it. While I wouldn't necessarily like it either (in regards to the ISP doing something without telling me), I'd be happy as a Windows user not to deal with this stuff.

    I'd be more inclined to say "Of course none of this would have been necessary if it weren't for Microsoft not doing anything to fix it.. ".

    But that's me!
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Zonewalker's Avatar
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    yeah I can see why the ISP would do it, personally as a windows user I'd still not be happy about having my setup fiddled around with - but then maybe I'm just over protective of my babies (not all of which run Windows). I can see why a lot of home users are quite happy for the service to be turned off for them, but like I say... lazy users

    I don't think its totally fair to blame MS though - they were after all trying to include something that would be helpful to a network admin - it would have been better if the messenger service was turned off by default mind, can't argue with you on that.

    Can you tell I'm being charitable tonight???

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  5. #5
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    I look at it this way:

    Folks like us would be rather angered that an ISP was messing w/ services on our local machines...but they probably can't anyhow
    AND.... let's face it...AOL users are not hardcore users...so they don't really know what it implies,and probably don't care.

  6. #6
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    i agree with MsMittens. Kudos to AOL! Do you have any idea how many just sit there subjected to these messages because they haven't a clue? AOL is great for non-tech type people. if everyone where technically literate many of us would be out of jobs.
    Bukhari:V3B48N826 “The Prophet said, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.’”

  7. #7
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    AOL should have created a prompt screen during the install explaining what it was doing and offer the user a choice but having the default set to disable messenger. From the very limited information I have here in front of me, I am lead to believe the user was not prompted.

    As a former risk manager, if I worked at AOL I would have been strong against this choice which leaves them WIDE open to lawsuits. Where is the difference between disabling a service without telling you and, as someone else said, disabling competing services. Or worse yet, installing other things like backdoors without telling you?

    catch

  8. #8
    Are they blocking the ports on the AOL network? Or turning the service off on installation?

    In any case (and I don't want to start a flame war) AOL is generally aimed at clueless newbies who'd be quite at a loss if you tried to explain about Windows services to them. Clueless newbies are an important market segment.. don't forget that these people pay AOL a premium so that it's all sorted out for them.

    Personally I like real raw access to the internet with none of the "extras" that people like AOL try to bundle. But I strongly suspect that's a minority view in the Real World.

  9. #9
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    The telling phrase is right in the article:-

    AOL then developed a tool that users could run to turn off the feature entirely, but few bothered, even though complaints about such messages kept growing, Weinstein said.
    I'd run with the theory that the (L)users didn't have a clue what they were talking about.... but either way they didn't use what was offered to them. AOL should simply run a regular ad saying

    If you get messages like this.... [Pretty Picture goes here].... Don't call bitching at us, we provided this tool a year ago.....[Pretty Link/Icon goes here].... Use the tool or STFU.....
    (that would be at the appropriate level for most AOL (L)users..... )

    As it stands I'm unsure of what to think on this particular matter...... On one hand AOL users don't have a leg to stand on, they were provided a tool, they failed to use it and then they increase AOL's helpdesk costs bitching about it. Also, with the average computer IQ of AOLers 99.9% wouldn't even notice if the service was switched off. And finally - I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for AOLers anyway..... They made their crappy bed and now they can lie in it. I can't tell you how many people I have "encouraged" to change from AOL and they all whine that they don't want to change their email addy - this, just after whining to me about their AOL woes........ <sigh>

    On the other hand, yes - I agree it is dangerous for companies to start messing with the OS or other's software..... I just keep going back to this thought that.... "It's only AOL users.... who cares......" If a company started doing that to my computers I would have a hissy fit.... But I can assure you all - AOL will _never_ be able to do anything to my computers - 'cos I won't load it..... I did once several years ago while between High speed ISP's.... When I cancelled the service I got phone calls every week for three months offering me free this, that and the other to come back.... They just wouldn't take "go to hell" for an answer.....
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  10. #10
    Flash M0nkey
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    hmmm but could they not have popped up a msg like ::::

    AOl is about to deactive microsoft messaging - this messaging service may be used to send spam and can become bothersome if not deactivated. If you wish to continue press OK or to leave the messaging service active press cancel. The service can be reactivated at any time by going to.......

    at least that ay the user knows whats happening?

    v_Ln

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