In almost every organization there are departments in which the employees are less tasked than others. This usually causes some level of frustration among the employees in the company, but for the most part, it’s understood as part of the job. When the work load is not equally distributed within a department, however, and every one knows it, the level of frustration among the members of the department can become palatable.

Such was the case with a young woman in our sales department. Not much past the drinking age, this employee liked to spend a lot of her time using Instant Messenger and posting to and friendster. Her co-workers, perhaps unsurprisingly, had to pick up some of the workload that she had been hired to do. After a while, her boss asked me if I could keep her from IMing all day.

“Yes!” I said.

Here’s how to shut down Instant Messenger via Group Policy.

Using the Group Policy Editor, edit the policy for which you want to prohibit instant messaging. Navigate to User Configuration->Administrative Templates->System and double click on “Don’t run specified Windows applications” in the right window pane.

Make sure the option is “Enabled” and click the Show button.

Click on add and type in the name of the instant messaging program’s executable that you want to block. (We’ve chosen in our example Google Talk — googletalk.exe.)

Other .exe names include:
MSN Messenger — msnmsgr.exe
Windows Messenger — msmsgs.exe
AOL Instant Messenger — aim.exe
Trillian — trillian.exe

Once you’ve finished entering in all of the programs you want to block, click Ok. Then apply. Then Ok.

When the user tries to work with the programs you’ve blocked using either the shortcut or via the Start Run program, they will see a notification that looks like this:

Now, there’s one problem to this. If a user is smart, they can still start the program by typing the name of the program into Run in the Start Menu. However, administrators have a response to this.

Make it harder for users  to get to the run command by using GPO to remove run from the Start Menu. Open up the Group Policy Object:

User Configuration ->Administrative Templates ->Start Menu & Taskbar and Enable Remove Run from the Start Menu.  Done.