I had a really strange experience with Internet Explorer earlier this week. I had a reason to check Windows Update (checking for driver updates), but no matter what I did, Microsoft Update opened itself in Firefox! Even if I typed the URL into IE, or chose it from the Tools menu. It became clear that the same was true of typing in any other URL, or trying to open a link in a new window.

As far as I can tell, IE had decided that it wasn’t capable of handling new HTTP connections and was sending the URL to the default browser.

Oddly enough, the side-by-side copies of IE 5.0 and 5.5 were perfectly fine, and would open new windows correctly.

Solution attempt 1: Set default browser to IE, test it, then set it back to Firefox. No luck. With IE as the default, it still opened in Firefox. Some digging through the Registry, and it turned out that the default handlers for HTTP and HTTPS connections were still pointing to the Firefox executable.

Solution attempt 2: Set those registry entries to point to Iexplore.exe instead. It sort of worked, except that I would still get an unresponsive, blank IE window before it opened the new instance with the actual URL.

I did some digging online, which suggested…

Solution attempt 3: Re-register urlmon.dll. No change.

Solution attempt 4: Reinstall the application. Except with Internet Explorer on Windows XP, this isn’t really an option. Would’ve been a 5-minute process with Firefox, Opera, or any other browser. Even on Linux I could’ve reinstalled Konqueror (which is built into KDE) by reinstalling the appropriate RPM or .deb package. Even Office would’ve been possible, it just would’ve taken a lot longer.

Solution attempt 5: Upgrade. I had downloaded the IE7 beta from MSDN last week, but hadn’t installed it because I didn’t want to overwrite IE6. Well, now I did. That worked, even after setting the default back to Firefox.

So now I’ve got IE7 beta 1, which will be useful, and I’ll need to set up a stand-alone copy of IE6.

Of course now IE is weirder than ever…

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