Windows Vista/7 Tips: Prevent being automatically upgraded to Windows Live Messenger 2011

Microsoft have in recent years earned a reputation of being quite sneaky with regards to their popular Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN) communication tool. In recent years, we’ve seen constant nag screens, and a few versions have even FORCED users to update.

Recently, Microsoft launched another new version, Windows Live Messenger 2011, as part of a new Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite of applications. It introduced a brand social element to the Messenger, allowing users to integrate it with Social Networks and see updates on the right side, as well as a major interface change, but many people find the new look and various other tweaks hard to get to grips with, or don’t want social networking cluttering their Instant Messaging, and would rather avoid having the new version. Thankfully, Microsoft seems to have learnt from previous mistakes, and aren’t forcing people into upgrading their version of Messenger to the latest version – yet. However, without knowing it, many Windows Vista and 7 users have unwillingly opted in to downloading and receiving the new version. How, you may ask? Because Windows have sneakily made the latest version, and the Windows Live Essentials 2011 Suite it comes with, an “important” Windows Update. Sneaky, huh?

So, what if you are a Windows Vista or 7 User who already has Windows Live Messenger, and doesn’t want to get the update to WLM 2011? Well, thankfully, there’s a way to disable getting the update if you haven’t already installed it. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll never have the update creep up on you without you knowing:

Step 1: Open Windows Update. This can be found in your Windows Menu, or in the Control Panel.

"Windows Update" in the Windows 7 Menu

Look for this entry under "All Programs" in the Windows Menu, and single-click it.

Step 2: Click Search for Updates, and allow the process to complete. You should be presented with a screen similar to this (though the number of updates shown may vary):

Windows Update: 1 important update is available

Step 3: Whatever you do, DO NOT click the Install Updates button – not yet, anyway. Instead, click the link that appears under “Install updates for your computer” – it’s the one that looks similar to, “1 important update is available”.

The "1 important update is available" link

Look for a link like this one, and click it.

Step 4: You’ll now see a list of the updates you have available. Look for one named “Windows Live Essentials 2011”.

This is what you're looking for.

Step 5: Right-Click the update, and click “Hide Update”.

After clicking “Hide Update”, you should notice that the update’s entry has turned grey, and will no longer be ticked if it was before. You should also find that if you now click its check-box, it will not change.

Step 6: Click OK.

You’re done! Now Windows Live Messenger 2011 shouldn’t sneak up on you… unless Microsoft decide to do another sneaky trick. Please tell me what you thought of this tutorial, or how you got on with it, in the comments below – and if this tutorial help you, kindly consider giving a small donation to Technically Motivated using the “Donate” button below, as a token of your thanks. No obligation to, but it helps keep Technically Motivated going, and lets me bring you more useful tips like this.

5 Responses

  1. You can also turn off Microsoft Update (Only if you don’t use MS products such as Office)

    • That’s true – you could do that. But it’s not a course of action I’d recommend unless you really know what you’re doing.

      While it’s a known fact that Windows Updates often are more trouble than they’re worth, and most recommend not allowing them to install automatically, many Windows Updates DO in fact bring important bug fixes and security enhancements to your Windows System, without which your computer could be left vulnerable. My advice is never to turn it off completely, but instead set it to “Do not automatically install updates”, so you get some input over the process.

  2. Easy come, easy go.

  3. Awesome post! I will be sure to try your methods out.