Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recent Messenger outages

UPDATE (2016-02-12): After more investigation, it seems the DNS reported in some regions (especially in Europe) will connect you to servers that are no longer operating.  Reviver has been updated to fix this issue.  If you are having this problem, please revive Messenger again using Messenger Reviver 2.4.7.

msnmsgr_2016-02-11_22-24-59

In the last 24-36 hours, a handful of users have been reporting infrequent outages resulting in error code 80072efd (can’t connect to the server).  Waiting a few minutes and just trying again usually will remedy the problem.

Four days ago it was reported on the forum that all the bn1 category servers had disappeared, but the actual connectivity problems with Messenger were not reported until several days later.

So far I have not seen the issue on any of my accounts and therefore have not yet been able to properly investigate the situation. However, at the moment my best guess is that the servers are being reorganized in some way and when you get the error message, you’ve been redirected to a server that is no longer operating. At the end of 2014, the same problem occurred when some of the servers started to phase out direct MSNP and HTTP access.  However, I think this might a bit of a different situation.

Although it may or may not be related, during the same time period I have also seen some disconnections with Skype causing it to sign out completely, which usually mean the server has signed me out automatically.  These sign outs might indicate that Skype’s infrastructure is also being changed too.

Unfortunately the inner-workings of the Messenger servers have never been completely fully known, so we’ll have to continue monitoring to see what happens.

Messenger Reviver 2 temporary download

Update:
Both Google and Microsoft unblocked the original Reviver links from their respective browser detection engines within 12 and 3 hours respectfully.

Although frustrating for the need to continually stay on top of these false positives, I do applaud them both for being quick and relatively painless to resolve the situation.

I have returned all the links, with the exception of this page, to the originals.


 

Here is a temporary link to download Messenger Reviver 2

Download Messenger Reviver 2

It seems someone doesn’t like the idea of Messenger Reviver and has reported all my links as malware.

2015-12-16_16-07-24

I suspect this may be related to McAfee being slow about removing a recent false positive.  Having these false positives removed takes up time in my life every week, but the antivirus vendors have always removed Reviver without question, although naturally they take their time about doing it.

I find the best way to check software (including Messenger Reviver) is to use virustotal.com.  The current analysis reveals that almost every vendor agrees it’s clean.

In the past, I have had infrequent threatening comments directed at me, specifically from those who trust their antivirus software without question and claim that I am harming their computer.  I have had my registrar falsely accuse of me of distributing malware, giving me a 24 hour warning to “remove it” or risk losing my entire account.  In all instances in these situations, after reviewing the real facts, these people stand down.

Ignoring anything else, just thinking logically, why would I, someone who has been assisting people with Messenger problems for for nearly 15 years, run a blog for 10 years, with comments, forum, live chat on a variety Messenger related topics, only to trick a few people into installing malware now.  Why would I ruin my reputation like that?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

Messenger Reviver does not do anything other than what it says it does.  It does not report any statistical data or personal data about yourself or your computer, it does not install anything other than Messenger, it does not contain ads, or contain any income-generating mechanism.  Messenger Reviver loses me time and money and it is simply a work of love.

Which is exactly why the icon for Reviver is Messenger with a heart.
reviver2.png

Thanks everyone for your support.

Messenger Plus! download link disappears (but direct link still available)

Messenger Plus!Up until now Yuna software has kept Messenger Plus! (for Windows Live Messenger) still available for download.

This changed yesterday as the Plus! download page now indicates that it is no longer available:

Messenger Plus! for Windows Live Messenger

Messenger Plus! For Windows Live Messenger has been discontinued.
Thank you for your support over the years.
Please try Messenger Plus! For Skype.
All is not lost though, you can still download and install Plus! by using a direct link to the download.  Both Plugins (Scripts) and Skins downloads are still available too, although as they could soon disappear, you may want to archive any that you use regularly.

Messenger bay servers disappear, then reappear

A BayWithin the last few hours, the Messenger “bay” group of servers all went dark causing outages for a small number of Messenger accounts whom Microsoft has deemed only usable on that group of servers.

If this affected you, the error code you would have seen was 80072efd or in more useful terms, Can’t connect to server.

A good chunk of the servers have now returned and those accounts should now again be operational.

Given that we’ve seen larger changes happen around this time on Thursdays in the past, I highly suspect they were offline for some sort of maintenance, possibly related to the new Skype web client in Outlook.com.

As always, you can monitor the servers yourself by going to dx’s ever useful ismsndeadyet.com (choose “Click to show needlessly detailed server status”).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Messenger SantasGreetings,

Just a quick note to wish my readers and users a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (whichever applies to you!).

Wishing you all the best!
Jonathan

Offline messaging broken

Offline messages in Messenger have always been stored on Hotmail (now Outlook.com), and with the e-mail count and notifications for Outlook.com in Messenger being removed recently, it was no surprise when the reports that offline messaging was no longer working.  I can sadly confirm that to be the case.

However, it’s more complicated than simply being gone.  Your offline messages can be triggered to be sent to you in Messenger… by using Skype.

If you want to try this yourself, link your Messenger Microsoft account to a Skype ID.  Then with Messenger signed in already, log into Skype using your normal Skype username (you could use your Microsoft account as well, but you don’t have to).  As soon as Skype logs in, your offline message will magically appear in Messenger.  Note this requires Messenger 2012, it does not seem to work on 2009.

Additionally, you can also see your offline messages by using Outlook.com’s web messaging feature by signing in with your Microsoft account (note that it does not need to be a Live/Hotmail address to work).

 

 

 

 

Christmas comes early! Microsoft updates Windows 8.1 for Messenger 2011/2012 support

Ho-Ho-Ho--Santa-on-Windows-Live-Messenger-2This month’s Update Tuesday brought an early Christmas gift to those who want to use Messenger 2011 or 2012 on Windows 8.1.

Prior to this update being available, when you tried to sign in, you would receive error code 80090004.  After the fix is installed, you will be able to sign in as normal.

The update is contained in the 8.1 December’s rollup update (KB2903939), which contains 18 fixes including KB2906900 (Error “0x80090004 (NTE_BAD_LEN)” occurs when you try to sign in to Windows Live Messenger).

You can either download the update from Windows Update in Windows, or at the Download Center (32-bit, 64-bit), a reboot will be  required to use Messenger again.

Although I quickly managed to write some code to automatically check, download and install the update on machines that need it, it will be a few days before I think it’s ready.  In the meantime, I have withdrawn the version of Messenger Reviver which blocked Messenger 2011/2012 installations on 8.1 and you will just need to manually update Windows 8.1 if Windows isn’t updated automatically.

A special thanks to user Chooky who was the first to notice the update!

 

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.

How to stop the built-in Messenger from signing in on Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Updates to this article:

Mar 30/2012: There have been multiple changes to Metro Messenger this past month and the below no longer is sufficient to stop Messenger from signing in. However, these changes seem to have finally added MPOP support (that is, allow you to use Metro Messenger and the normal Messenger client at the same time) and so it’s not nearly maddening as it was initially. I may go back and review this in the coming month.

Mar 2/2012: After redoing my investigation, I figured out that I had missed another connection. It seems to also connect to 65.54.52.45 (otherwise known as beta.xmpp.messenger.live.com) to start the Messenger connection process. Blocking this stopped the below mentioned signout problem. I’ve tweaked the command lines above to reflect this and changed the name of the rule. Based on this information it seems the new client uses XMPP, but that will be the topic for a later article.

Mar 1/2012: Messing around more this evening with Windows 8 has caused my “classic” Messenger client to sign out a few times, even though the built-in Messenger client still claims it can’t connect. I will investigate more shortly to see why that is, although the above still should provide some satisfaction, but probably isn’t a perfect solution just yet.

It’s only been out for a few hours now, but the built-in Messenger client in Windows 8 Consumer Preview is causing me severe mental anguish.  I’ll withhold my opinions of the client till later, but it seems to want to constantly connect and there does not appear to be any immediate way to turn this “feature” off.  Furthermore, I don’t really want to use this client for Messenger purposes.

So after being rapidly compelled to find out what it is trying to connect to, I think I’ve sorted out a (temporary) solution to disable this built-in Messenger client using the Windows Firewall.

To do so, open an elevated Command Prompt by moving the mouse to left-hand corner until the Start box appears, then right-click and choose Command Prompt (Admin).

Elevated Command Prompt

Confirm the operation, and then copy one of the following application lines into the clipboard:

For 32-bit Windows 8:
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="MetroMessengerXMPP" action="block" dir="out" program="c:\program files\windowsapps\microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.2.3237.215_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe\LiveComm.exe" remoteip="65.54.52.45,65.54.48.0/24"

For 64-bit Windows 8:
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="MetroMessengerXMPP" action="block" dir="out" program="c:\program files\windowsapps\microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.2.3237.215_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe\LiveComm.exe" remoteip="65.54.52.45,65.54.48.0/24"

Then right-click in the Command Prompt area, choose Paste and press Enter.

Paste Menu

Pasted Firewall Rule

You can close the Command Prompt now.  Messenger should no longer be able to sign in any more, but the rest of the Windows 8 features should continue to work (including Mail).  This works by restricting the LiveComm.exe process from communicating with the Messenger servers at the 65.54.52.45 and 65.54.48.0/24 blocks of IP addresses.  Hopefully they won’t decide to change the addressing scheme any time soon.

Note: As I’ve only had a few hours to test this, there may be unforeseen connection problems or it may even stop working later on.  You can remove or edit this firewall rule by using the Advanced Firewall configuration (run “wf.msc”).

Enabling Easy Connect Remote Assistance in a domain environment

Back in the days of Windows XP, those using Remote Assistance regularly tended to prefer establishing Remote Assistance sessions using the built-in Windows Messenger client.  These days, Easy Connect (added in Windows 7/Server 2008 R2) tends to be the preferred method.

But one major problem with using Easy Connect is within a domain joined computer, it informs you that Easy Connect is not available and does little to tell you why.

Easy Connect is not available

As the rather uninformative documentation will inform you, Easy Connect makes use of Microsoft’s “Peer Name Resolution Protocol” (PNRP).  You can read more about the inner workings of PNRP, but the key is its use of IPv6 to function.  As most of us do not have IPv6 support from our service providers, Windows makes use of Microsoft’s Teredo technology to tunnel you to IPv6 addresses.

So it is Teredo, which Windows automatically turns off in a domain environment that needs to be configured for Easy Connect to work.

Checking Teredo’s present status

You can check if Teredo is enabled by using netsh on the command line:
netsh int teredo show state

Teredo not working on a domain

By default, Teredo is set in the “client” type.  In a domain (managed) environment, you will receive “client is in a managed network” under the Error category when showing the Teredo state.

Enabling Teredo in a domain for Easy Connect

To enable Teredo in a managed domain environment, you’ll need to set the client type to “enterpriseclient”.  To do this, depending on your scenario, you can use the netsh command on a single computer or the domain’s group policies to enable multiple machines.

Using netsh

Open an elevated command prompt and type:
netsh int teredo set state type=enterpriseclient

Setting netsh to enable Teredo in a domain environment

Note that this is a per-machine change, so anyone logging into the computer will get Teredo access.

Using group policy

In Group Policy Management (or related tool), Edit the GPO which affects the machines (ie. Default Domain Policy), navigate to Computer Configuration, Policies, Administrative Templates, Network, TCPIP Settings, IPv6 Transition Technologies and set the Teredo State setting to Enterprise Client.

Group Policy Management Editor

 Teredo State

As soon as the machines get this policy change (or use gpupdate /force on the clients), the setting will immediately work without a Windows restart.

Verifying Teredo is operational

You can again do the netsh int teredo show state command again to check that Teredo is now enabled and operational.  If you used Group Policy to enable the setting, you’ll see (Group Policy) tagged after the Type field:

Teredo Enabled on a domain machine

You can also test Teredo by pinging an IPv6 resource like Google:
ping 2607:f8b0:4001:c01::67

Pinging Google IPv6

Checking Easy Connect

To verify Easy Connect is now working, launch Remote Assistance (msra.exe), choose Invite someone you trust to help you, choose the Use Easy Connect option and after its network check, you should receive an invitation code.

Working Remote Assistance

A word about Windows Server 2008 R2

There may be instances where you wish to use Easy Connect on a computer using Windows Server 2008 R2.  To enable this, you’ll need to go into the Server Manager and install both the Peer Name Resolution Protocol and Remote Assistance.  After this is complete, you can enable Teredo as above.

Add PNRP and Remote Assistance

Final notes

If the Peer Name Resolution Protocol service is set to Disabled or not installed, the Easy Connect option will be grayed out in the Remote Assistance window.  The service can be set to Manual (which is the default) as it will be automatically started by Remote Assistance when you go to use it.

Since Teredo can be easily toggled on a whim using netsh, those who prefer not to have Teredo enabled full-time can very easily write a script to automatically enable it prior to starting a remote session and then disable it afterwards.

A small disclaimer: be aware that there are many networking issues which can prevent Easy Connect (more specifically PNRP or Teredo) from working properly, especially problems involving routers, virtualization software or VPNs.  Additionally, some or all of the public Teredo tunneling servers may not be available to you. This article does not address any of those difficulties and the Teredo state setting solely enables Teredo to work when Windows believes it is in a domain environment. 

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