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MSN Explorer

Published: August 06, 2004

(Note: This topic describes not just Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, but also Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3.)

On This Page

Benefits and Purposes of MSN Explorer
Overview: Using MSN Explorer in a Managed Environment
How MSN Explorer Communicates with Sites on the Internet
Controlling MSN Explorer to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet
Procedures for Configuration of MSN Explorer

Benefits and Purposes of MSN Explorer

MSN Explorer is the software used by subscribers to MSN Plus, MSN Premium, or MSN 9 Dial-Up. It can be used to browse the Web, read and send e-mail, and access a variety of MSN services. When a user first starts MSN Explorer, it connects the user to the free non-subscriber section of the MSN.com Web site. From this default site, the user has access to all of the MSN services. The MSN.com Web site is an Internet connectivity service that provides access to a variety of personal-interest information and services, as well as providing a portal to the World Wide Web.

Overview: Using MSN Explorer in a Managed Environment

MSN Explorer is installed optionally with Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (SP2). MSN Explorer is available to users after they complete a sign-up and setup procedure using the MSN Installation Wizard. Once users have established an account with MSN.com, they have access to personal e-mail, online contacts, online music and video, and the Internet. MSN Explorer delivers the benefits of popular Internet technologies such as Hotmail®, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Windows Messenger, and Windows Media Player, all in one program that works with the existing Internet connections. In a managed environment, however, unlimited access to these available Web sites may pose security risks. You can therefore remove MSN Explorer from the Windows components to be installed, as described later in this section.

How MSN Explorer Communicates with Sites on the Internet

The MSN Explorer component is a Web browser that can create an Internet connection, search the Web, communicate through instant messaging and e-mail, play music, and manage the users’ schedules and finances online.

To access MSN Explorer for the first time, users must click Start and then click MSN. This starts the MSN Installation Wizard, which takes the user through a sign-up process. The user has the option of signing up for an MSN 9 Dial-up subscription (which includes Internet access) or an MSN Plus or MSN Premium subscription (both of which use an existing Internet account). Note that the user can also access an MSN subscription using a local area network (LAN). The user then has the option of using an existing Hotmail or MSN e-mail account or creating a new account. If a user creates a new e-mail account, the wizard requests personal information such as date of birth and occupation. The user then sets a password and is given a user name. Subsequent access to MSN Explorer will take the user directly to MSN.com.

This section describes various aspects of the data that is sent to and from the Internet, and how the exchange of information takes place.

  • Specific information sent or received: MSN collects personal information such as e-mail address, name, home or work address, and telephone number. MSN also collects demographic information, such as ZIP Code, age, preferences, interests, and favorites. Information about the computer hardware and software is also collected. This information may include IP address, browser type, domain names, access times, and referring Web site addresses. MSN uses .NET Passport to provide registration and sign-in services. All of the registration information provided is stored by MSN, and some or all of that information will also be stored by .NET Passport.

  • Default target: MSN.com is the default target Internet Web site. With the version of MSN Explorer in Windows XP with SP2, users can change the target Web site.

  • Triggers: If MSN Explorer is not set up yet, when a user clicks Start and then clicks MSN, the MSN Installation Wizard starts. The MSN Installation Wizard takes the user through a sign-up process. After this, the user starts MSN Explorer by clicking MSN on the desktop.

  • Logging: The information collected is logged and stored by MSN, .NET Passport, or both.

  • Access: MSN and its operational service partners collect and use the personal information collected to operate MSN effectively and to deliver the services that the user has requested. Some information is also sent to MSN servers for service quality monitoring and the AutoUpdate service. For more information about how the information that is collected is used, see the MSN privacy statement at:

    http://privacy.msn.com/

  • Privacy: The MSN Web site has a privacy statement that applies to the Microsoft MSN family of Web sites and governs data collection and usage at all MSN sites and services. This privacy statement is available at:

    http://privacy.msn.com/

  • Transmission protocol and port: The MSN Installation Wizard uses HTTPS over port 443. Otherwise, the transmission protocol is HTTP and the port is 80.

  • Ability to disable: MSN Explorer can be removed during installation, or Group Policy can be used to block users from running MSN Explorer. For more information, see "Procedures for Configuration of MSN Explorer," later in this section.

Controlling MSN Explorer to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet

The MSN Explorer component can be excluded from installation by performing unattended installation with an answer file. As an administrator, you also have the option of using Group Policy to block users from running MSN Explorer if it is already installed. You do this by adding Msn.exe to the list of applications that users are excluded from using. Firewalls and proxy servers can also be used to block direct access to the MSN.com Web site as determined by your organization’s Internet use policies. The following subsection provides procedures for excluding MSN Explorer during unattended installation or controlling MSN Explorer through Group Policy.

Procedures for Configuration of MSN Explorer

The following procedures explain how to:

  • Exclude the MSN Explorer component during unattended installation of Windows XP with SP2 by using an answer file.

  • Use Group Policy to prevent users from running MSN Explorer if the component is already installed.

To Exclude the MSN Explorer Component During Unattended Installation by Using an Answer File

  1. Using the methods you prefer for unattended installation or remote installation, create an answer file. For more information about unattended and remote installation, see Appendix A, "Resources for Learning about Automated Installation and Deployment." Also be sure to review the information in the Deploy.chm file (whose location is provided in that appendix).

    Do not perform this procedure, however, if you are using Winbom.ini or Unattend.txt for your answer file.

  2. In the [Components] section of the answer file, include the following entry.

    Msnexplr = Off

    Note   You can also check a registry key (manually or with a script) on a computer running Windows XP with SP2 to see whether the MSN Explorer component is installed. Do not, however, change this registry key. A registry key value of 0x00000000 means the component is not installed, and a value of 0x00000001 means the component is installed. The key is as follows:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup \Oc Manager\Subcomponents\msnexplr

To Use Group Policy to Block Access to MSN Explorer

  1. As needed, see Appendix B, "Learning About Group Policy and Updating Administrative Templates," and then edit an appropriate GPO.

  2. Click User Configuration, click Administrative Templates, and then click System.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Don’t run specified Windows applications.

  4. Click Enabled, click Show, click Add, and then type:

    Msn.exe

  5. Click OK, click Add, and then type:

    Msn6.exe

  6. Click OK, click Add, and then type:

    Msnsusii.exe

    Msn.exe is the executable for MSN Explorer, Msnusii.exe is the executable for the MSN Installer Wizard, and Msn6.exe is a previous version of the software and exists only on computers on which an upgrade (not a clean installation) was performed.

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