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Troubleshooting Q&A - March 4, 2004

When Web Browsing Gets Quirky

This week's Q&A troubleshoots a couple of quirky problems that can creep up with your Web browser when trying to access the Windows Update site or sites with scripting issues.

By Ron Pacchiano

Q. I have been using Windows 98 Second Edition since it was introduced. One of the things I like most about it is the Windows Update feature. I remember with older versions of Windows I always had trouble locating patches or driver updates for my system. The introduction of Windows Update did away with all that. I find it to be an invaluable tool for keeping my system up to date, and since I started using it I’ve never missed a critical update. Well, that is until recently.

About a month ago I started to experience a problem when I would try to use the Windows Update site. For some reason, whenever I try to access the site now, I can’t seem to get to it. Instead, I get redirected to a page that says “You need to be running a version of Internet Explorer 5 or higher in order to use Windows Update.”

I don’t understand why I am getting this message because I’m currently using Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 7.1 for web browsing. Do you have any idea what could be causing this problem and how I can go about fixing it? Thank you.

A. Fortunately, this is a fairly simple problem — one I think you could have fixed on your own had you looked at the screen a bit more carefully. Don’t feel bad, though; we all have a tendency to miss the obvious solutions every once in awhile.

Since you’re using a newer version of Netscape Navigator (7.1) and an older version of Internet Explorer (5.5), I’m going to assume that your default Internet browser is Netscape Navigator. If you had looked closer at the screen you would have noticed that you were trying to access the Windows Update site through Netscape Navigator. This is the cause of your difficulty.

In order for you to access the Windows Update web site you need to be using a web browser that supports ActiveX Controls. In other words, you need to be running a version of Internet Explorer 4 or higher in order to use Windows Update. If what I suspect is true and Netscape Navigator 7.1 is in fact your default web browser, then the reason you are experiencing a problem is simply because Netscape does not support the aforementioned ActiveX Controls.

To resolve this situation, all you need to do is use Internet Explorer when you need to access the Windows Update site. One solution is to bypass the desktop icon to get to Windows Update and instead just launch Internet Explorer and type in the address manually (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com). If the problem still occurs when you try to access the site in this fashion, then you’ll need to update the WUPDMGR.EXE file. This is easily accomplished.

To correct this issue, you’re going to need to configure Internet Explorer 5.5 to be your default Web browser. Once you successfully access Windows Update, WUPDMGR.EXE will update automatically. After the file has been updated, you may then reset Netscape Navigator as your default browser (although you'll still need to access the Windows Update site manually through IE in order to properly access the site).

To configure Internet Explorer as the default browser, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Internet Explorer
  2. Click Yes when you receive the following message:

    Internet Explorer is not currently your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser?

If you do not receive this message when you start Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Internet Options
  2. Click the Programs tab, and then select the check box “Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser
  3. Now close and then reopen Internet Explorer.
  4. This time you should receive the message “Internet Explorer is not currently your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser?
  5. Click Yes.

That should do it! At this point IE should be your default web browser and you should have access to the Windows Update site. More information about this issue can be found at: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=http://support.microsoft.com:80/support/kb/articles/Q230/0/54.ASP&NoWebContent=1.

BTW: While you’re at it, I would further suggest that you upgrade your copy of Internet Explorer to the latest version. It shouldn’t be necessary to solve your current problem, but it may alleviate some future ones. Good Luck!

Q. Not long ago I purchased a new Windows XP computer that I’ve really been happy with. However, since I started using this machine whenever I launch Internet Explorer I almost always receive an error message that says “RUNTIME ERROR DO YOU WISH TO DEBUG?.”

It’s not just when I launch IE either. It comes up on most of the sites that I visit. I would say at least 60% of them! These popup messages are just so annoying and I have tried everything I can think of to get rid of them. I checked the Windows Update site and downloaded all of the IE updates I could find and still haven’t been able to get rid of it. Can you give me any suggestions that might help me resolve this situation? Thanks!

A. No problem. I was actually suffering from this exact same thing myself. It drove me crazy — especially when I would accidentally click yes to the debug question. Fortunately, it was an easy problem to correct. Once I actually decided to sit down and look for it, that is. Just do the following:

  1. Launch Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Internet Options.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Under the Browsing section look for the entry that reads “Disable script debugging” and check it.
  4. Then scroll down a bit and locate the entry “Display a notification about every script error” and uncheck it.
  5. Click OK, and then close Internet Explorer.
You should discover that the next time you visit those sites; you won’t find yourself inundated with the annoying popup messages any longer.


Use our feedback form to submit your questions on home or SOHO networking issues. We cannot guarantee to answer every question we get, but we’ll consider them all.



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