Monday, August 25, 2008

Windows Messenger error in Media Center Edition 2005

As a result of a recently released security update for Windows Messenger, those of you using Media Center 2005 may run into an error message similar to the following:

Messenger Failure - Media Center was unable to open Windows Messenger. Please make sure that Windows Messenger is installed on your system.

There are two ways that I know of to fix this, and they are as follows:

Method 1 - Disable Messenger functionality in MCE2005 (per user)

  1. Go to the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\IMSettings
  2. Under the fEnableIM DWORD value, change that value from '1' to '0'
  3. Alternatively, download and merge the 'fixwmerror-method1 - wmintegrationdisabled.reg' from the zipped registry key files to make the above mentioned change. To re-enable Messenger integration, merge the 'fixwmerror-method1 - wmintegrationenabled.reg' file instead.
  4. Note that this fix is 'per-user' so you have to apply it for every user that is affected.

Method 2 - Exempt the Media Center 2005 from the security update (per-machine)

  1. Go to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\
  2. Create a new key called 'ehshell.exe' if it doesn't already exist.
  3. Create a new DWORD value called 'AllowMessengerExecHandleFailure' and assign it a value of '1'
  4. Alternatively, download and merge the following zipped registry key file to make the above mentioned change.
  5. Note that this fix is a global fix, so it affects all users on your computer system.

I believe the second fix is more comprenhensive, so that's the fix I'd recommend as you can continue to use Windows Messenger post-security updates. I've heard reports that the new update removes the UI choice as to whether or not to enable Messenger functionality, so if you want to turn on/off Messenger functionality in Media Center, you can also use that method.

I had the 5.1 version of Windows Messenger installed before the security update was installed, and I still have the Messenger UI choice within Media Center. It seems (though I'll need others to confirm) that those using the older 4.7 variants of Windows Messenger have lost the UI choice within Media Center.

I'd be interested to know if anyone lost the UI to enable/disable Messenger functionality within Media Center would regain it upon installing the latest version of Windows Messenger (5.1.0715).

To obtain the latest version of Windows Messenger, see the following kb article, How to obtain the latest version of Windows Messenger 5.1 (KB899283).

67 comments:

John said...

I had the same problem, I installed Messenger 5.1 and it didn't fix the issue. The disable option wasn't availiable in Media Center. After trying Method 2, the disable option appeared. I disabled it and no longer get that message, but Media Center still doesn't work. Now when I attempt to go to the TV, I see "Component Registration Failure: Some of the files needed to play radio or video are missing or corrupt. Media Center component registration may have failed"

John said...

Found something that worked for me.

http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/10/18/482472.aspx

Jason said...

Did your TV work before? I can say with almost 100% certainty these two issues are not related. The 'Media Center component regitration failed' error is a very common issue caused by .net framework/Media Center interaction issues, with a fix as described on Aaron's blog. The issue caused by Windows Messenger is a different issue altogether, totally not related to the .net framework at all. I suspect you had both issues occuring concurrently but independent of each other.

Flux said...

Response to your question:
"I'll need others to confirm) that those using the older 4.7 variants of Windows Messenger have lost the UI choice within Media Center."

On my system with Messenger 4.7 the UI choice was indeed lost after the recent update, the messenger error appeared. After applying method 2 (as described in your blog) the Messenger error no longer appears at MCE startup and the UI choice is back in the MCE settings menu.

John said...

Jayson: "I can say with almost 100% certainty these two issues are not related. "

You're probably right. However it was working fine about a week ago, and after I installed the latest updates, they both popped up at the same time.

Thanks for your help with one of the problems!

Roger said...

Hi Jason,
I was getting the “Messenger” error message in MCE 2005, so first I removed KB94668 and the UI for “Messenger” came back. I installed KB94668 back and the error message came back and the UI was gone again. I then uninstalled KB94668 again and installed the latest version of “Messenger 5.1”. The error message came back (the UI in Settings/Messenger was gone and when I did a Windows Auto Update, it would not notify me that I could or needed KB946648. I then tried method 2 as noted in your blog and downloaded the zipped registry update. It installed and now the error message is gone and the UI in MCE Messenger is back as before.
Questions – Is KB946648 part of the latest Messenger 5.1 and hence why Windows Update doesn’t recommend that it’s a needed update fix? If not, how do I get that update installed so the system will be up to date? It also appears you can’t uninstall Messenger 5.1 once installed, is that because it becomes part of the XP Op Sys?

Richard said...

I had the same problem. Method 2 solved it for me.

Anonymous said...

John, My media center stopped having a TV picture, only had audio, around the time I started getting the Messenger error. I did a video driver upgrade as per Dell and the picture came back on my laptop (XPS M1210)but started having other issues, I went back to the old video driver and I still have a picture. Hope this helps you.

Jason said...

Hi Roger

Windows Messenger is part of Windows XP, so you can't (in a supported manner) remove it as there are other programs with dependencies on it (Remote Assistance, etc).

However, Windows only really care what version of Windows Messenger you have installed, so long as it is at least 4.7, this is why the 5.x version isn't mandatory update.

That said, if you do install 5.x, it becomes part of the dependency of other Windows applications, and as such can't be uninstalled.

KB946648 describes the security update for both Windows Messenger 4.7 and 5.1. Windows Update will offer the appropriate update for whichever version of Windows Messenger you have installed.

Hope that answers your question.

Andy said...

If you dont need Messenger funtionality in MCE I have managed to uncheck the 'allow instant messaging' box in messaging and caller ID menu despite getting the 'unable to load messenger' dialogue. This might only work on my PC but I noticed that there was a delay from the time of opening MCE and the error dialogue box coming up, if you open MCE and immediately start going down to 'settings' and then immediately going down to 'messenger and caller id' and immediately right and uncheck the box with OK and immediately left to save.

It took me a few attempts to get the button strokes just right to catch it before the error box pops up ad you have to save before the box appears or the save has no effect. It is possible that there is only a delay with not so fast pc's but good luck trying, I got a teeny 'screw you Bill Gates' buzz when I managed it.

Chris Morgan said...

Option 2 worked for me - thanks. Once I then disabled Messenger from within MCE I notice that it also starts up more quickly.

Thanks for taking the time to post the solution - it's really appreciated.

Chris
http://learn2develop.blogspot.com

Toni said...

Option 2 also worked for me. Thanks!


Toni

Kay said...

I followed step 2 and now i no longer have the messenger error message in media center...but I also don't have any options under messenger like i used to.

Since the update of sp3, i no longer can get a tv signal to watch live tv either..this all happened at the same time. I have since uninstalled sp3, back to sp2, but have not been able to get media center up and running at all. Anyone have any advice?

John H. said...

Andy's method worked for me. As he says, you probably have to do several attempts until you get the mouse co-ordination fast enough to uncheck "allow instant messaging" and save before the error message pops up and it is too late.
Thanks Andy.

MToep said...

To merge the unzipped fixwmerror-method2.zip registry file, do you just execute the .reg file? Does that add the required entry into my registry?

Sorry, I'm not that practiced at registry editing, but this simple change probably will fix my media center problem.

Thanks.

marnewton said...

I would just like to thank you for your fix. I used the zipped file.

Your blog also directed me to Aaron Stebner's fix for Media Center registration failures...

so a double thanks;¬)

technick said...

1st option reg edit worked for me. Awesome, thanks for the tip.

TiaLis said...

Jason - I'm having a problem copying my recorded tv shows onto dvd's. I did not have this problem before. Do you think it's related to the update. I am also getting the windows messenger error message.

m_archer92 said...

Oh. My. God.
This worked perfectly!!!
Thanks Jason!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much andy that worked out perfect all it is is being quick with it

Anonymous said...

Thank you, this was one of the most annoying things with MC

Aaron said...

Thanks Andy -- your simple method worked for me (got it on 2nd try), and I didn't have to futz with the registry!

NJ said...

Thanks Jason you are worth your weight in adwords.

Anonymous said...

I used option 2. I have messenger 4.7. The UI option re-appeared. Error message is gone now. Thank you!

Wayne said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but why would a Microsoft security update break the functionality of a certain MS app (Messenger) within another MS app (Media Center). Don't they test for stuff like this? I could see if it was apps from another software company but it is Microsoft all around in this instance.

Anonymous said...

I just clean installed XP MCE 2005 after finally realising that it is way better than Vista MCE and found this weird Messenger error.

I quick google later and I found your blog.

Option 2 worked an absolute treat!

Thank you very much indeed!

Roost

Anonymous said...

what an annoyance! the fix from "Andy" did it for me. you just have to be quick (or have a slow computer maybe?) before that error screen comes up. if you can select the option to disable, it will go away! thanks.

Anonymous said...

I get the message also. Along with all kinds of others. My Media Center doesn't work right anymore, and HP hasn't been able to fix it. Even a complete restore doesn't work. I wish it was a way to delete the Media Center software from the XP system.

Anonymous said...

andy's method worked for me also had to try a few times before I was quick enough!

Warren said...

Jason,
Thanks for the excellent post. I made the reg change to each user and the message is gone. Question is how to remove from an extender. I run a Linksys extender and that still gets the message. I cannot seem to find that user in the reg edit. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I would also like to know how to fix this messenger error in my Linksys extender. This seems to be the only place thats even starting to address it.

Greg said...

I've got Windows XP Media Center and although my Media Center tv shows up I did get that 'Cannot find Messenger' error. I tried method two offered on this site and the error message has gone away but I still can't get Media Center to initiate Live TV. This is a royal pain because we don't have time to play computer expert in our lives. We want software to work not go haywire. I don't know if Microsoft thinks before they act. Everything was working fine until today. I didn't get word of any updates so I guess I'll have to dig around.

Anonymous said...

Control panel, add/remove programs>left side, click on Add/remove windows components>scroll to bottom of list, uncheck messenger> hit apply. close all windows, and restart the media center. Works like a charm. And your messenger still works.too.

Anonymous said...

Control panel, add/remove programs>left side, click on Add/remove windows components>scroll to bottom of list, uncheck messenger> hit apply. close all windows, and restart the media center. Works like a charm. And your messenger still works.too.

this worked for me too!

Larry said...

Larry UK
The first registry fix sorted this annoying problem for me straight away.
Thank You I will bookmark your page.

07022009

Anonymous said...

Well Jason, after trying option 2 it fixed the problem! Thank you Obi-Wan. This has been a constant nag for awhile and now it's gone!

I have one small quirk left, every time I close out Media Center, it makes an error sound like "DONK". But if I wait a little while before I close MC it doesn't make that sound. It has done this since I bought the computer in Nov. 2006. It's an HPm7580n Media Center PC (if that helps).

Thanks again,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Yes! Simply removing the program from Add/Remove>Windows Components worked dandy, thanks Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Control panel, add/remove programs>left side, click on Add/remove windows components>scroll to bottom of list, uncheck messenger> hit apply. close all windows, and restart the media center. Works like a charm. And your messenger still works.too.

Don: This worked great!! Thanks. have one small quirk left, every time I close out Media Center, it makes an error sound like "DONK".

Hey Don, I had this same DONK sound too. I just went into Settings, Visual and Sound Effects, and unchecked Play Sounds When Navigating Media Center. The DONK sound ended.

Thanks for the help Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

THANKS A BUNCH(oder so:)

Anonymous said...

Option 2 worked for me. Thanks!!!

cybermaven said...

Yep, removing the program from Add/Remove>Windows Components worked perfectly, thanks Anonymous! And thank you Jason for supplying the resource for me to find my answer!

Anonymous said...

Error message media center unable to open messenger, make sure messenger installed. Numerous hours trying to find a fix. Microsoft support awful via web and phone. Amazing their automatic security updates fail to fix the next time downloaded. This blog was referred to numerous times however truly do not understand where to even find a registry file....downloaded the zip but not savvy enough to "merge". Seems like an excellent resource for the more tech savvy would have done if more simply written. Ended up with the removing of messenger via windows components. Tried uninstalling KB946648 but system stated unable to do so. Thanks anyway your blog did help locate fix even though it probably isn't the best one. Any chance of instructions for those of us requiring very simplified instructions

Peter said...

After I done these steps I still got the error announcement: videodecoder is already in use. I tried to get TV back into Mediacenter (liveTV). There's no other TVcard or camera connected with this computer
Does someone know what else I can do to solve this problem?

Eileen said...

When I load messenger I get a black screen and the mouse quivers. If I CTRL/ESC I see the Welcome to Media Center Setup Wizard. I was then getting the Messenger problem which has gone with Method 2. However I still have a black screen and still have to CTRL/ESC to see the Setup page and if I click NEXT the screen goes black again. Any ideas? Thanks, Eileen

Anonymous said...

Unfortunatly this still leaves the error in Media Center Extender. Is there any way to disable messenger there.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunatly the error is still in Media Center Extender. Is there a fix for that.

Anonymous said...

Very many thanks for this fix! I switch all the time from Windows Media Player to Windows Media Center, and it was a terrible nuisance to get this unwanted message every time and have to turn it off before I could do anything else. Windows Messenger has a SETTINGS option, but it doesn't do anything currently. I used your Method 2, Step 4 (Alternative). Thanks again. JCS

Anonymous said...

Method 1 worked for me!!!

Anonymous said...

Tx for the fix, option worked on my mce pc, however, I still get the messenger error message on my xbox 360 media extender, is there anyway to get read of it on that?

Tiger said...

Thank you, thank you, Andy.
It took a few tries, but very quick work will turn off the option in Media Center. I have 4.7 Messenger in MC XP. No more failure message! I love tricking my PC.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

This is exactly what I was looking for, I will try both methods tonight! thanks a lot. Eric

As you seem to be Media Center Expert, I have another problem I need to solve:
I have "unknown album" by "unknown artist" in my music library (album inconnu artiste inconnu in french). I cannot get rid of them while deleting them in Media center (I get the message that the album/file could not be found on the C: drive). It looks bloody stupid on the menu of my albums!! Can anybbody help me, would be very much appreciated ;-) Eric (please answer on eric.vonderweid@belgacom-ics.com)

Anonymous said...

Re:Andy said...
9/02/2008

This worked for me and only took a couple of tries!!

THANKS ANDY!!!!
And thank you Jason for your site!
Anonymous only because I don't know WTF I'm doing!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year...thanks to the person that posted this:

"Control panel, add/remove programs>left side, click on Add/remove windows components>scroll to bottom of list, uncheck messenger> hit apply. close all windows, and restart the media center. Works like a charm. And your messenger still works.too."

Worked for me also. No more error message and Media Center is working fine. Honestly, I was hesitant to get into the registry that I might mess something up.

I really appreciate blogs like this where we can find good solutions.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Option 1 worked perfectly! Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for method 2 zipp file YOU THE MAN!!!

Anonymous said...

I downloaded the zip file, merged them together, then ran the file. It created 41 errors with my windows media centre and now everything is out of wack; I have the Windows Media Centre Configuration Error.... I am so disappointed.

mo said...

Just wanted to thank Andy. His solution worked for me too. I managed to do it on the 4th try.

Anonymous said...

Method 2 worked Thank you

Aaron said...

Method 2 worked like a charm. I had tried a few other things, but it was the one that worked.

Thank you very much.

Now how to fix the pesky "Decoder Error" even after a fresh install of XP.

Thank you much.
LIOTB

Aaron said...

Method 2 worked like a charm. I had tried a few other things, but it was the one that worked.

Thank you very much.

Now how to fix the pesky "Decoder Error" even after a fresh install of XP.

Thank you much.
LIOTB

Anonymous said...

Control panel, add/remove programs>left side, click on Add/remove windows components>scroll to bottom of list, uncheck messenger> hit apply. close all windows, and restart the media center. Works like a charm. And your messenger still works.too.

This was a great suggestion that worked for me. I don't care about Messenger, but do use MC.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help.

I used method no. 1, and downloaded the fixed solution as suggested.

Once again - big thanks:o)

Ole

Anonymous said...

Another vote for method 2. Thanks!

Media Center starts instantly now too.

christina0377 said...

I am having the same exact problem with the error message and the decoder error...I JUST picked my computer up yesterday from being repaired in which my entire hard drive was wiped out and brought back to factory, yet I'm getting those messages...I'm not a computer expert by any means so if someone can give me step by step instructions to correct the problem, I'd highly appreciate it...I gather method 2 is the better option, I just don't know how or where to go to do it...help, please?? Thank you

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jason. Method 2 worked, downloaded the alternative fix. I'm still getting another error that I will now start looking for a fix. ehExtHost.exe- Common Language Runtime Debugging Services, the No Debugger Found

Anonymous said...

Method 2 and the zip file worked perfectly. Thanks very much.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jason! I can confirm that Method 2 works with Messenger 4.7.