IE 8 causes big problems on some PCs

Dennis o'reilly By Dennis O’Reilly

The new version 8 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser has some features that version 7 doesn’t.

But that’s no guarantee that upgrading to IE 8 will go smoothly on your PC.

The perils of software updates were brought home to computer-repair business owner Bob Millard as he attempted to heal the XP systems of three clients who had recently moved from IE 7 to IE 8:
  • “I have a computer repair business. In the last two weeks, I’ve had to fix three XP laptops after the installation of IE 8 made them inoperable. In each case, after the update, the desktop on each of these computers was blank except for the desktop wallpaper.

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    “It didn’t matter whether you started the system in normal or safe mode, all desktop items — including the taskbar — were missing. The only way I could get them back was by using one of my bootable utilities that would allow me access to the restore points. On two of these laptops, restoring back a few days corrected the problem.

    “On one of them, even though I got all the desktop functions restored, I didn’t have Internet access or any access to USB devices. I tried to remove IE 7 (IE 8 was gone after the restore) but there was no remove/uninstall option in the Add/Remove Programs window.

    “I was able to use a remove-IE7 utility that I have [IE7 EasyRemove, available at the Drive Headquarters site] to get back to IE 6, and now the system is working again.

    “Bottom line: There are big issues in Internet Explorer 8 land.”
Bob told me that he subsequently reinstalled IE 7 on two of the laptops and everything worked as expected. However, the third still lacked USB access and had other problems with IE 7 installed, so Bob left IE 6 on that machine — at least until he could find the required fix.

Despite the potential pitfalls, I recommend that if you must use Internet Explorer, install the latest version that won’t trash your system. If IE 8 crashes and burns, revert to IE 7. If IE 7 brings you grief, roll back to IE 6 — but only long enough to get things working again. Old versions of IE are too insecure for today’s scary Web.

Bob Millard will receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of his choice for sending a tip we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

The Known Issues column brings you readers’ comments on our recent articles. Dennis O’Reilly is technical editor of
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