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Control Windows Messenger with Group Policy Objects

Administrators can set certain controls to stop Windows Messenger from ever starting -- or only on startup.

Instant messaging has become the popular way to communicate. Whether on a network, over the Internet, through Web-enabled TVs, pages, or mobile phones everyone seems to be diving head first into the asynchronous chat rage.

Well, that is everyone but me. I can't stand these instant-messaging systems. The first activity I perform when installing a new OS or obtaining a new online or phone service is disable the ability to send or receive instant messages. There I've said it.

Or you may like such systems yourself, but your company doesn't want them to run on employees' computers because they take up too much bandwidth, or employee time, or both.

No matter what your opinion on this issue happens to be, fear not. Windows 2000, XP, and .NET offer a means through Active Directory GPOs that you can manage the Windows Messenger tool. Windows Messenger is an offshoot of both Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. It has become another native Windows tool that will probably be around for several generations of Windows versions.

AD GPOs can be used to manage this tool in your environment. By default it is installed on all new Windows 2000, XP, and .NET systems. By default it is launched each time a user logs in and accesses their desktop on one of these OS versions.

The controls used to manage Windows Messenger appear in the Administrative Tools, Windows Components, Windows Messenger folder of both the User Configuration and Computer Configuration sections of a GPO. There are only two controls. Both controls can be found in either configuration section of a GPO.

Note: If the same setting is configured in both the Computer Configuration and the User Configuration section, the settings in the Computer Configuration section take precedence.

The Do not allow Windows Messenger to run control disables the Windows Messenger tool. When this control is enabled, no user will be able to launch this messaging client by any means.

The Do not automatically start Windows Messenger initially control prevents Windows Messenger from launching when a user logs on. This control does not prevent the messaging client from being launched manually.

If your organization wants to prevent the use of Windows Messenger, enable the first control. If you just want to prevent it from consuming system resources until someone actually wants to use it, enable the second.

James Michael Stewart is a researcher and writer for Lanwrights, Inc.

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