My name is Johanna
, with a "h". I know the difference between the Messengers. The network Windows Messenger Service that pops up ads on desktops was designed for computer administrators to send notification en masse, and is easily disabled in Admin Tools> Services. No registry edits are necessary. Windows Messenger,is removed with the above command, and it comes with XP by default, and the IM program is uninstalled in Add/Remove.
If you want to know more about that, do a search on the BBS for "Messenger" and "Welshjim".
You can use your firewall to block all online communication for svchost.exe and just about every other kind of MS
app, except, of course, the ones you want to use, on a stand alone computer
. GenHostProcess does not need the internet, neither does any component of Office, or WE. In fact, looking at my firewall rules, only IE & OE have permission to access the internet, and then, only when I call on them. This does not interfere with the way software, including XP, behaves. In fact, all the software that DOESN'T need to access the internet for MY convenience, is denied access through itself, and Norton. For example, if I want to open a pdf, AA doesn't need to call home. If I want updates, I'll go to the website and download them. I do not need the aggravation of monitoring a program that is misbehaving because it connected to fill-in-the-blank. Firedancer
A good rule of thumb is to block unknown connections. You'll figure out pretty quick if a program needs it or not, and can always change your rule. Even my mouse and keyboard were factory set to call home every time I booted the computer! To me, that is ridiculous. I have worked on OEMs that had 60 programs trying to go online, and stay online (maintaining an active connection and running as a process in Task Manager) by default, and the users wondered why their computer booted slowly. You may not notice on high speed dsl, but an older comp on dial up might choke. When unsure, say "NO."
Many people let Norton or their security program do "Automatic Program Control". This lets known programs through by default. If you are comfortable making those decisions yourself, shut it off, and watch the prompts you get as new rules have to be created manually. You will be shocked at what all WANTS to be online. With the newer faster computers, on their high speed connections, the default settings will permit a lot of activity, and the user will never notice
. I know the companies have business reasons for their desire to be "in touch", but, I place a high value on privacy, or paranoia, whatever.