Windows 7 new user profile – MSOE.DLL could not be loaded error

Since my Windows 7 deployment I get an error every time a new user logs in (or logs in following a profile reset).

Windows Mail could not be started because MSOE.DLL could not be loaded

Since you can click past it I wasn’t initially too concerned but I soon came to realize that there’s pretty much no information on the Web about this problem. Anything the search engines turn up is invariably about Outlook Express on Windows 98/Me.

It seems to be caused when some kind of IE First Run process opens Internet Explorer with an MSN page and presumably tries to register the default email client (which is not yet set to Outlook, despite it being installed). The strange thing is that Windows Mail is not even available on Windows 7. Microsoft discontinued it after Vista in favour of Windows Live Mail. WinMail.exe is present on the system but it’s hidden, and that MSOE.DLL has been purposely omitted. Apparently you can get it working again by supplying a copy from a Vista PC.

The problem is that this error looks important enough for a new user to contact the helpdesk about. The other issue is that it significantly delays that first logon, sometimes by several entire minutes. The error occurs immediately after you enter your credentials (you can hear the alert sound) but it happens while the desktop is still hidden from view by the Windows 7 splash screen. Eventually the Preparing your desktop splash screen times out and you can click OK:

Windows Mail could not be started because MSOE.DLL could not be loaded

Notice the label in that floating window – it’s setting up a component which is titled as Microsoft Windows.

Eventually I discovered a KB article relating to Internet Explorer 5 personalized settings, which was when Microsoft introduced this method of installation.

Having consulted that document I viewed HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ActiveSetup\InstalledComponents in Regedit and saw that there is indeed a component with the name “Microsoft Windows” which is invoking WinMail.exe, intending to register it as a mail and news (nntp) client:

WinMail.exe ActiveSetup parameters

I have no idea why it’s doing this since WinMail.exe is intentionally disabled in Windows 7. It would seem logical that deleting this whole key should fix the problem (I backed it up first of course). In testing this didn’t seem to work though.

However I did notice that sometimes I got the error on screen twice and other times only once. Exasperated I searched the registry for instances of WinMail.exe until I discovered the reason: the entire ActiveSetup branch of the registry also exists under HKLM\Software\WOW6432Node\Microsoft, for the 32bit version of Internet Explorer on 64bit systems. Once both keys had been deleted the error disappeared.

I was then able to refine this – instead of deleting the whole key you only need to set to the single DWORD value IsInstalled to zero. Do this to both instances and the problem is fixed! In my environment I used my existing VBScript startup script which worktations inherit by Group Policy. Excerpt below:

If InStr (strOS,"Microsoft Windows 7") Then
  'Prevent Windows from trying to invoke the non-existent Windows Mail for new user profile setup
  On Error Resume Next
  strKey = "SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{44BBA840-CC51-11CF-AAFA-00AA00B6015C}"
  objReg.SetDWORDValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKey,"IsInstalled",0
  strKey = "SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{44BBA840-CC51-11CF-AAFA-00AA00B6015C}"
  objReg.SetDWORDValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKey,"IsInstalled",0
  On Error Goto 0
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3 thoughts on “Windows 7 new user profile – MSOE.DLL could not be loaded error

  1. Pingback: Windows Mail could not be started because MSOE.DLL could not be loaded

  2. Terry Parker

    Is it possible to install Outlook express on a new 64 bit windows 7 computer? I need to recover all my emails from a pc whose mother board bit the dust litterally. I really need the info saved in different folders on my dead pc.

    Reply
    1. patters Post author

      I’m not sure. I think I read somewhere that you can get Windows Mail to install (by taking the files from Vista I think), and since that’s a descendant of Outlook Express it should be able to import your data. In fact, even Outlook should be capable. Remember to work on a copy of your rescued files though, just in case they get mangled.

      Reply

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