February 4th, 2007

Q, programmer, queue

Remove The Unremovable

Since Windows XP was introduced, many people have complained about Windows Messenger being nearly impossible to remove. MSN Explorer is another default component that I prefer to remove. This little trick is a bit of a hack and requires a little bravery to implement. As with any hack that I post, implement it at your own risk.

Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\WINDOWS\inf. Some Windows installations use WINNT instead of WINDOWS, but the inf directory should appear under it either way. If you have not gone through the advanced options of Windows Explorer and chosen to show all files and folders, you should still be able to type this directory location into the address bar of Windows Explorer.

Under this directory, double click the file sysoc.inf. Be sure to select the INF file and not the PNF file.

The two applications we're interested in do not appear together, but are as follows:
> msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,hide,7
> msnexplr=ocmsn.dll,OcEntry,msnmsn.inf,,7

Remove the word "hide" from both lines if it is there, but be sure to leave the commas and the rest of the line intact. You can choose to unhide other components, but be sure you know what you are removing. Unhiding the components using this file will not uninstall the component, but it will allow the component to be removed. Therefore, I recommend only unhiding those items that you know you are going to remove.

Save the file and close it.

Go to the Control Panel and select Add or Remove Programs.

Select Add/Remove Windows Components from the side bar on the left.

Uncheck the MSN Explorer and both Windows Messenger checkboxes. Note that when you try to uncheck the second Windows Messenger checkbox, it will often not seem to uncheck. Try clicking the text portion of another component and you'll notice that the checkbox will magically uncheck itself. This appears to be a bug in the display update. Whether this is intentional or not will be left for future discussions.

Click Next and follow any further prompts to complete the removal of the components.

Again, if you decide you'd like to remove other components, be sure you know exactly what those components do as you could disable features of Windows that you depend on or like to have. Notice that clicking on the text of a component will show a description of the item, and some of the items have a Details button enabled that will allow you to remove subcomponents of the main component. Feel free to look around and see what these components do. To be safe, click Cancel to close the box after looking around at the components.