Monthly Archives: August 2012

Installing Windows Live Mesh 2011 with Windows Essentials 2012

48_edit Yesterday Microsoft released Windows Essentials 2012 which among other things, removes Windows Live Mesh for SkyDrive (which is barely a comparable product).  But unlike the 2011 and 2009 versions of the Essentials, thankfully you can actually install Live Mesh on your existing 2012 installation.

To make this easy, I’ve written a small tool called Live Mesh Installer.Live Mesh Installer

Download Live Mesh Installer

Getting started with Live Mesh Installer

To get started, download the Live Mesh Installer, choose Run if possible or download and open the zip file yourself.  Next, just run the LiveMeshInstaller.exe inside the zip file and choose Yes when prompted for administrator rights.

Finally choose the language version you prefer from the list and then select the Begin button.  The Installer will then download the Windows Live Essentials 2011 web installer and automatically install Windows Live Mesh.  Please note that installation will take some time as it will need to download, extract and install Live Mesh.  When it is complete, Live Mesh will start automatically.

Options

If you prefer to see what’s happening with the installation, uncheck the ‘Hide installation wizard’ option before you begin.  When the Windows Live Essentials setup begins, you will be prompted to either install all the products or choose the ones you prefer.  Only Live Mesh will be installed on either option (unless you choose others specifically in the choose screen).

Final notes

Unfortunately as Windows Essentials 2012 is hardcoded to remove Live Mesh, any upgrades or changes you make to your Windows Essentials 2012 installation will result in Live Mesh being removed again.  If this happens, just re-run the tool and install it again.  Hopefully this won’t happen too often.

Version history
09/01/2012 1.1.1.0 Fixed Italian not showing in the list
08/19/2012 1.1.0.0 Added the remaining languages
08/08/2012 1.0.0.0 First release of Live Mesh Installer

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How to disable Messenger (Messaging) in Outlook.com

Last week, Microsoft announced (yet another) rebrand of Hotmail to Outlook.com.  It has received plenty of favourable reviews and praise but one feature is extremely annoying – and that is, like the Windows 8 Metro Windows 8-style UI Messaging application, it automatically logs you into Messenger and connected services (Facebook Chat) when you sign in, with no ability to log off instant messaging except for setting your status to “invisible”.  (Side note: Windows 8 Messaging now thankfully has a global off switch added into its settings since the Release Preview.)

I’m sure there are people who don’t mind this – perhaps they don’t use instant messaging or they keep webmail open all the time anyway (in fact you get a small bonus feature if you do).  I personally use the actual Outlook desktop application and only use webmail when I’m away from my own PC, so I’m not too keen to be speaking of people when I’m just trying to quickly access my email from other locations.

So I looked for a way to disable this from happening and after rummaging through the options unsuccessfully, some searches to see if anyone else had already figured it out, I started looking through the code, and found the key: geo.messenger.services.live.com geo.gateway.messenger.live.com (changed December 2012).

So to disable Outlook.com’s Messaging feature, all one has to do is block this host and the easiest way to do this is to add it to your hosts file.  If you’re not sure how to do this or want to save time, I’ve made a quick tool for Windows users below which you can easily run to automatically add (or remove) blocking this host.  To make this change yourself manually, you find yourself on a machine without administrator rights, or you use another operating system, see Other Options below.

Download the Disable Outlook.com Messaging tool

Using the tool

To start, download the Disable Outlook.com Messaging tool, open the zip file, and run the application inside.  You’ll be prompted for administrator rights so the tool can make modifications to your hosts file, and then you’ll receive a message indicating the change has been made.  Please note you’ll need to restart your browser to see the change.

To remove the entry in the hosts file, run the tool again, the messenger entry will be removed and you’ll receive a message notifying you as such.

If required, you can use the /q command line parameter to avoid seeing the notification messages that the change has been added or removed.

After the change

Once the hosts file entry has been added, when you click Messaging in Outlook.com, you will see an attempt to sign in but it never will be successful.  With the new Messaging pane added in 2014, you will also need to collapse the Messaging pane by clicking on it:
Clicking the Messaging pane to collapse it

Other options

If you wish to add the entry to the hosts file yourself and use Windows, press the Start button (if you use Windows XP, click the Run option) and type:

notepad %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

then press Ctrl-Shift-Enter to start Notepad with administrator rights.  Once Notepad starts, add the following line:

0.0.0.0 geo.gateway.messenger.live.com

Then close Notepad and save.  Now just restart your browser to see the change.

If you’re on a Windows machine without the ability to get administrator rights, such as a work setup or library and there is an available version of Internet Explorer available, commenter qiang reminded me that you can use the Restricted Sites zone to block specific hosts like this one.  To do so, after starting Internet Explorer, press the Alt key on the keyboard to bring up the menu bar, choose Tools, then Internet Options, then the Security tab, choose Restricted sites and finally press the Sites button.  In the ‘Add this website to the zone:’ box, type geo.gateway.messenger.live.com and choose Add.  Then click Close, and OK in the remaining open options windows.  If outlook.com is already open, sign out outlook.com and sign back in to see the change.

If you’re using another operating system, the How-To Geek has tutorials for both Ubuntu Linux and OS X (the Windows one is missing the fact you need to start Notepad in Administrator mode if you’re following this guide).

Additionally, you could use firewall software to block outgoing connects to this hosts.  Unfortunately the built-in Windows firewall only supports IP addresses and since these can change, it isn’t too useful for the purposes of blocking this.

Final notes

As modifying the hosts file requires administrator rights, this probably won’t be successful on machines you might use when you’re out and about.  Of course, the best solution would be for Microsoft to add this feature into Outlook.com itself and in fact, the web messenger in Hotmail initially didn’t allow you to log out either but the feature was added later on.  I certainly have no idea why is was deemed unimportant to be included in the current release of Outlook.com and it seems many of you agree with me.

Outlook.com has a server-side instant messaging history

NOTICE: After about a year, this feature has since been removed.  See more details.

Earlier this week I noticed the newly launched Outlook.com finally has a server-side messaging history option.

To switch it on, visit Outlook.com, click the Gear in the corner and choose More mail settings.

More mail settings

Once you’re in Options, choose Messaging History on the left.  Then choose to Save instant messages.

Messaging history options

Then as soon as enough time has passed, eventually messages will start populating in the Messaging history view.

Outlook Messaging history inbox
Unfortunately although they’re not organized all that well, your instant messaging conversations can be finally stored on Hotmail Outlook.com and as well as searchable on the web.  Unfortunately they don’t appear to sync with the desktop Outlook Hotmail Connector nor Hotmail’s Exchange ActiveSync.

Additionally, it seems the history isn’t working too well yet.  I have disabled Outlook.com Messaging and the Messaging history still works but sporadically as some contacts and messages are recorded but others not.  To add to the problem, when I had Messaging still enabled, someone sent me two Messenger messages fairly quickly and Outlook.com received both but my own desktop Messenger client only got one.

But regardless, my guess would be having an Outlook.com tab open at all times in your browser is probably helpful for this feature to work.  I’ll update here if I figure out more about how it works.