Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Fix IE6 crashes in Windows XP

The problem is that Internet Explorer crashes after viewing a web page. Not all web pages though, I was able to successfully view about half of those I tested with IE6. One site that crashes it pretty quickly is Microsoft's own (they offered it as an example).

It wasn't hard to find information online about this problem which was introduced in the December 11th round of bug fixes to Windows.
According to Computerworld, reports came in immediately after the release of the December 11th patches, about problems with Internet Explorer. I was just hit with this because I always wait a bit before installing new bug fixes. This wasn't the first time that a poorly tested fix created a new problem.
To document the problem Microsoft created Knowledge Base article 946627.
On December 18th, Microsoft offered a work-around in the form of a registry zap. Not your most user-friendly undertaking.
On December 20th, however, they incorporated the registry zap into a downloadable EXE file, and updated the Knowledge Base article with a link to the file.
Rather than fix the fix with a registry zap that seems to target the symptom rather than the underlying problem*, my first reaction was to un-install the buggy bug fix.

Windows XP users can do this using the "Add or Remove Programs" applet in the Control Panel (see above). At the top of the window, turn on the checkbox for Show updates and sort by date last used. Then, scroll to the bottom and look for KB942615.

When I did this however, I was scared off by the warning message shown above. Even if I was willing to risk breaking two other bug fixes, I want no more to do with the Adobe Flash player. If you try this, please leave a comment below about the patches and applications, if any, that you get warned about.
You can download the automated registry zap here . The file is WindowsXP-KB946627-x86-ENU.exe, and running it starts up a Wizard (below) that walks you through a simple, standard installation process.

I suggest making a restore point before installing anything. Can't hurt. In my case, the fix was immediate, there was no need to restart Windows.
According to this Microsoft Security Response Center blog posting the newly automated fix has been incorporated into windows update.
Considering how so few people use Internet Explorer and even fewer use Windows XP and Vista, combined with the limited resources of the company that produced both products, it's no surprise that quality assurance for the original bug fix might be lacking.


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