Seems the folks at Microsoft have announced that the next big patch for XP (Service Pack 2) will turn off Windows Messenger feature in Windows XP.
Not to be confused with MSN Messenger, which is Microsoft’s Instant Messenger, Windows Messenger is a feature meant for use by system administrators in businesses so they can broadcast messages of importance to users such as network shutdowns or whatever. This service is turned on by default even in the Home version of XP and unscrupulous spammers who aren’t satisfied with deluging your inbox with ads are making use of it to popup ads on your desktop regardless of what you’re doing at the time. The easiest solution is to just turn the service off and so that’s what Microsoft is going to do with the next patch along with turning on XP’s built-in firewall, which currently defaults to being turned off. The firewall isn’t particularly great, but it does provide a little more protection for users so it’s not a bad move. Now all they have to do is to convince users to install the service pack once it becomes available…
Oh and if you want to disable the Windows Messenger service yourself without waiting for the patch you can do so as follows:
Pull up the START menu and go to Control Panel -> Performance & Maintenance -> Administrative Tools -> Services. Find the entry for Messenger Service and double click it. Change “automatic” to “disabled” and then click the “stop” button. That’s it.