Windows Legacy OS forum

General discussion

Programs will not open in Windows XP

by jjamjatra / June 12, 2007 2:08 AM PDT

Suddenly, nothing seems to behave as it should. Some examples of what I am seeing on my Win XP Home Edition service pack 2 system:

-- applications do not launch or open anymore from the taskbar or from program tree
-- right mouse-ing on any icon reveals a context menu that has been trimmed of choices such as OPEN or Run As..
-- Click Start, Run, and typing CMD results in a "cannot find" error message
-- Right mouse on My Computer and click of Properties does nothing
-- Several icons in quick launch area of taskbar (and others on the desktop) have been changed to the "generic default". I seem to be able to change them but they don't "stay" that way across reboots of the system
-- The "system tray" area of the taskbar used to have several icons always resident there but now just the clock.

I was able to launch VirusScan 8.0 from McAfee and do a complete scan of my only local harddrive C and found no viruses. The virus definition file was very recently updated.
The only thing I can think of that is new on this system is that I updated Mozilla Firefox to Version 2.0 recently.
One last item of strangeness is that I can launch IE7 or Firefox from the Start->All Programs tree but not from shortcuts in the taskbar. Yet nothing else seems to be able to start in this manner. I can bring up control panel but I cannot get "Add Remove Programs" to do anything. I would love to be able to fire up some anti-spyware I've got such as Ad-Aware and/or Spybot Search and Destroy but I cannot get these things to launch.

This is a private laptop (Dell Inspiron 700) that only I use. It is protected by a router and the Windows SP2 firewall is always ON. This is my tale of woe. Does this sound like any symptom anyone else has recovered from ? Any suggestions?

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Programs will not open in Windows XP
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Programs will not open in Windows XP
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Not always a virus. Malware can do this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 12, 2007 2:15 AM PDT

Using a browser and one wrong OK and you could see this happen. Usually we can use System Restore to go back to when it worked. But since you can't click on stuff we have to use the method at this link ->


Collapse -
Appears to be for Windows ME not XP
by jjamjatra / June 12, 2007 2:22 AM PDT
Collapse -
Wrong LINK. Here's the one for XP.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 12, 2007 2:26 AM PDT
Collapse -
Still same problems after many restores
by jjamjatra / June 13, 2007 5:14 AM PDT

Thank you..

I tried system restore (from Safe Mode with cmd prompt because nothing is clickable). I tried about 6 times. I went all the way back to March 6th! (system was fine until about June 9,2007 or so!).

Every iteration of the restore followed by rebooting led to almost all of the same set of symptoms as described above. The one exception was that the "system tray" area of the taskbar was restored with the original 4 or 5 icons. Other than that, all the same problems remain. Most baffling, is when I rightmouse on My Computer and select Properties, nothing happens. Also, when I type CMD into the Run box, the system says it doesnt recognize CMD and prompts for a web service or select a program to run it...Is there any way to run Spybot or Ad_Aware from a command prompt in Safe Mode like I ran the RSTRUI.EXE ?

Collapse -
Re: Still same problems after many restores
by Tufenuf / June 13, 2007 5:21 AM PDT

jjamjatra, Check out my reply below this one as it should be of some help.


Collapse -
Will try your suggestion
by jjamjatra / June 13, 2007 5:27 AM PDT

Thanks tufenuf, I read through that and I will try it tonight when I get to the laptop. It looks quite scary - this big .reg file - but I assume it will at least not make things worse. There is not much documentation on the problem in kellys-korner but I take it that you think it matches my symptoms, correct?

Collapse -
Re: Will try your suggestion
by Tufenuf / June 13, 2007 5:31 AM PDT

jjamjatra, Give it a try and it should at least get your Programs to open again when you double click them. Post back on how you're making out with this problem and we'll be here to help.


Collapse -
Re: Programs will not open in Windows XP
by Tufenuf / June 12, 2007 2:17 AM PDT
Collapse -
Who ARE you wonderful people
by jjamjatra / June 19, 2007 2:42 AM PDT

Thank you SO VERY MUCH! You pointed me to item 12 on Kelly's Korner and it worked like a champ! My system was totally broken and I feared I was facing a reformat of the hard-drive. But now all is well.

As soon as it was fixed, I ran Spybot Search and Destroy (which founds lots of items to delete) and then Ad-Aware (which found nothing). I presume I ran into something while browsing the web that was very nasty.

Bless you and Mr. Kelly for your good work and again, many thanks from me!

Collapse -
(NT) jjamjatra, Glad it's fixed & Thanks for posting back.
by Tufenuf / June 19, 2007 2:52 AM PDT
Collapse -
Having same problem XP not opening any programs
by carbonation / May 11, 2009 1:32 AM PDT

I just read your forum on XP not opening programs IE included. You said you found the answer on Kelly's Korner item # 12 I can not seem to find it. Could you help me please. I am having the exact same problems as you described.

Collapse -
Re: Having same problem XP not opening any programs
by Tufenuf / May 11, 2009 1:47 AM PDT

Gregg, Go to the link below and scroll down to line 12 (left column) and click on "EXE (lnk and regfile) Fix for Windows XP" to download a reg file fix. Save the REG File to your hard disk. Double click it and answer yes to the import prompt.

If you can't run the file do the following:

Press CTRL-ALT-DEL and open Task Manager. Once there, click File, then hold down the CTRL key and click New Task (Run). This will open a Command Prompt window. Enter REGEDIT.exe and press Enter. Once regedit is open click File>Import and locate that reg file fix, hilite it and click Open.

Note: If you can't access the Internet with the problem computer use another computer to download the reg file fix onto a CD or floppy and transfer the file to the problem computer.


Collapse -
Xp wont open programs
by carbonation / May 11, 2009 2:28 AM PDT

Thanks for the quick reply, you people are wonderful, when I click on the item 12 it opens to show me the reg edits but wont download as an exe? I had planned to down load it to another computer that is net worked with the problem computer, then copy it over. Will that work?

Collapse -
Re: Xp wont open programs
by Tufenuf / May 11, 2009 2:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Xp wont open programs

carbonation, Try right clicking on that download and choose "Save target as" then save it to your hard drive.

"I had planned to down load it to another computer that is net worked with the problem computer, then copy it over. Will that work?"

That should also work.


Collapse -
XP won't open programs
by carbonation / May 11, 2009 3:23 AM PDT

Ok, i was using my daughters computer to download, she uses mozilla, I switched the browser to IE and it downloaded. I ran the file on the problem computer I just had to answer yes to Are you sure you want to run this, then just Ok after it ran. But I am still having the same problem. I click on Ie and I get the box that asks what program I want to open the file with?

Do I need to reboot? I had run AVG virus none detected.

Any other ideas?

Collapse -
Re: XP won't open programs
by Tufenuf / May 11, 2009 3:49 AM PDT
In reply to: XP won't open programs

carbonation, Reboot and see if the problem still exists. If it does try the "EXE File Association Fix" at the link below. Instructions are on the page. You may have to again use your daughter's computer to download and unzip it then transfer the unzipped reg file to the problem computer, run it and reboot.


Collapse -
Xp won't open programs
by carbonation / May 11, 2009 4:17 AM PDT

I tried that too, and rebooted still no luck.
I had put both fixes in folders in my documents and executed them from there. They seemed to have run. Actually the first one exefix made my check disk run at reboot and scared the heck out of me, it said something about the file system is NTFS and some sectors are unreadable, but check disc was able to fix the problem.

Can you recomend a good anti-spyware, probably too late for this issue.

Any other ideas?

Collapse -
Re: Xp won't open programs
by Tufenuf / May 11, 2009 4:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Xp won't open programs

carbonation, I would recommend that you post this problem in the "Spyware, viruses, & security" forum. It appears to definitely be virus/malware related and the experts on that forum should be able to help you.


Collapse -
xp won't open programs
by carbonation / May 11, 2009 4:43 AM PDT

thanks for the effort

Collapse -
Two Programs Won't Launch in Windows XP
by CayennePepper Guy / December 14, 2009 7:57 AM PST

I'm having the same problems everyone else in this forum were having. I can't run two specific programs in Windows XP. One is a long-time application that I've been running for years XSite Pro 1.6 and the other is a new app.

The file or program found at That page is offline now.

Any direction or advisement is appreciated.


Collapse -
Can't run programs
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 14, 2009 7:55 PM PST

What happens when you try to run these programs? Any error messages? What is the other program?

That Kellys-korner link. It works for me. Are you saying it doesn't open for you?


Collapse -
Can't Run Programs -- Programs Won't Open
by CayennePepper Guy / December 15, 2009 1:05 AM PST
In reply to: Can't run programs

I get no error messages of any kind. The software or the "Kellys-korner" link you referred to is dead -- nothing is there. At this point, I only have two programs that are not running. All others are fine from what I can see.

Thanks for any help.


Collapse -
OK. What I would do now.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 15, 2009 3:58 AM PST

It's strange that there's no response when you attempt to open these two programs. Even stranger that it affects two, not one, or two but not all programs.

So, what I would do now;

1] Update and run your anti-virus scanner with a full scan. Then download, install, run and update Malwarebytes' Antimalware. When it is update it may close down again. Open it up and run a full scan.

2] If the scans find nothing but the two programs still fail to work, uninstall each, and reinstall them. I would do it one at a time, eg; uninstall the first application, reboot, (restart), the computer, then reinstall it. If that works, do the same for the other application. Why the reboot? It clears out any registry entries.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
Two Programs Won't Open
by CayennePepper Guy / December 18, 2009 3:08 AM PST

I am still working on this. I upgraded to Windows XP Pro with a legitimate genuine, non-bootlegged copy.

Steps I did include: ran every anti-virus, anti-malware software I could find and still nothing. I ran Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and ZoneAlarm anti-virus and anti-spyware modules too but nothing. I also ran Spybot and Ad-Aware too.

I came to the conclusion that the software needed to be a genuine/legitimate version of Windows so I bought it. That notwithstanding, the updates that Windows does won't install. I think if I can get those updates to install, I can get the programs to open as those updates are needed (10 of them are waiting). I've contacted Microsoft to let them know that I can't get the updates to install even though I have a genuine/purchased copy of Windows XP Pro SP3 running.

Any help or guidance is appreciated.


Collapse -
Tell me that again?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 18, 2009 4:42 AM PST

I make no judgement, but are you saying this happened on a pirated copy of XP? If so, then issues of this sort would have occurred eventually.

But I am not sure where you are now. You say you have upgraded to a legitimate version of Windows XP Pro, but then you say that updates to Windows will not install.

Tell us what process you have gone through, eg;

1] Pirated version of XP. Some programs failed to work.

2] Installed genuine version of XP Pro. How did you do that?

3] The install went correctly and Windows XP Pro now works without issues, except you are unable to get updates. Which updates and what happens when you try?

4] The programs that didn't work before. Are they genuine applications, ie not pirated? Have you attempted to re-install them on this new install of XP Pro?


Collapse -
RE.: Tell Me That Again
by CayennePepper Guy / December 18, 2009 5:40 AM PST
In reply to: Tell me that again?

Yes, Mark, I did have a pirated copy of Windows XP. I had Windows 98 and then upgraded to ME, which was free. When I upgraded to Windows XP, my friend gave me some bootlegged Windows XP software he had. I used it, I admit, but am now "legal." I bought the full, genuine copy a couple of days ago in light of these problems.

Here's the process I went through:
1. Upgraded to a genuine, legitimate copy of Windows XP Pro SP3 a couple of days ago. It installed and updated w/o issue.

2. I installed it via a link Microsoft gave me post-sale. I clicked on it and initiated the process. Like I said, the upgrade process was issue-free. The site to start the process is I called them and bought it then they sent me an email with the info I needed.

3. The only issue I can see is that the automatic updates from Microsoft just won't install.

4. Good question. Both of the applications are GENUINE, purchased versions. Sincerely. I bought the one XSite Pro 1.6 about 4 years ago. The other I bought on December 2nd. I contacted the programmer and he and I tried to get it to work together but it just didn't. I've not come across ANY other apps that aren't installing. I've uninstalled and reinstalled the copies but nothing. BTW, I bought both of the applications directly from the vendor so I know they're not pirated. The one I've had since 2005 (XSite Pro 1) has never been a problem ever before.

Here is a list of the updates:
a. Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool - December 2009 (KB890830)
b. Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 Security Update for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 (KB953297). (I actually see this in the Control Panel/Add-Remove Programs).
c. Update for Windows XP (KB971737).
d. Security Update for Windows XP (KB974392).
e. Update for Windows XP (KB967715).
f. Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP (KB976325).
g. Security Update for Windows XP (KB973904).
h. Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 and .NET Framework 3.5 Family Update for .NET versions 2.0 through 3.5 (KB951847) x86
i. Security Update for Windows XP (KB974318).
j. Update for Windows XP (KB970430).

What happens when I try to install them? I click on the yellow shield icon that appears in the Windows system tray and the dialogue box entitled "Automatic Updates" appears. It asks, "How do you want to install updates? Windows found 10 updates." I have tried both the Express Install and Custom Install options. I then click install. When I do so, in the installation status field, it tries to install them but after each of the 10 options, it says, "...failed!". I'm then left with a dialogue box that says: "The following updates were not installed." That's it. There are no other dialogue boxes and no other error messages of any kind.

When Windows XP is closing down w/ a hard boot, it tries to install the updates but cycles through it fast as it doesn't install them.

Lastly, I also ran extensive anti-virus, malware, spyware and trojan software to find anything. While I found a few noxious tracking cookies one that still remains in Firefox 3.3.6 that I can't get rid of (it launches tabs with advertisements on them), the various software seemed to find a few things, which I quarantined and then deleted.

I use ZoneAlarm Security Suite and used Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, Spybot - Search & Destroy, HiJackThis and TrendMicro's CWS Shredder, HJT, RootKitBuster and RUBotted as well. I tried to use their HouseCall, but it wouldn't install.

Overall, I don't think this is a trojan or bot problem, although I could be wrong. I'm thinking of installing ZoneAlarm in favor of McAfee's as I get it for free (and legitimately) anyway from Comcast.

That's it. Sorry to be so verbose. I appreciate your time and help.


Collapse -
Starting new sub-thread
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 18, 2009 8:44 PM PST

GR I have started this new sub-thread from your original post because these forums have a 'post limit' on sub-threads of about 12 posts. We were closing on that limit, hence replying to you here.

Replying to your Tell Me That Again reply.

I don't have an answer for the two apps that won't install I'm afraid. Perhaps the Event Viewer might point to some area of difficulty. After attempting, (and failing), to install either of these apps, if you head over to XP's Event Viewer, (Start > Run, type in eventvwr.msc and click OK), and look at the entries under Application and System for any errors for the time of the failed install. Double click any entry for more details, and the Event ID # can be Googled, (eg Google: XP Event ID 1051, etc), may help you track this down.

About the Windows Updates. Again, no real ideas, but here's a thing I noticed. Your security applications and scanners;

1] You stated you use ZoneAlarm Security Suite, (Firewall, Anti-virus, possibly anti-spyware?), and then you say you will install ZA in favor of McAfee.

The general rule is, only one Firewall and only one Anti-virus can be installed. Having two or more of each will cause conflicts. Firewalls will conflict with each other as one attempts to allow internet access to some program or other and the other will refuse. Anti-virus's will conflict as one app will attempt to check a file, causing the other to notice and attempt to check the same file, causing the first to try and check... and so on.

Make your decision which firewall and which anti-virus application(s) to use, and uninstall the other. Uninstalling these can be difficult, so visit the application's web site or Google and look for specific uninstallers.

2] Spybot Search & Destroy;

Sadly this is not the utility it once was, especially if you use it's Advanced Mode "Tea-Timer" component. Spybot now does not fit in well with todays firewalls and anti-virus applications, and we recommend uninstalling it. If you decide to do this, do it in a controlled way, eg, disable the Tea-Timer, (Spybot > Mode > Advanced > Tea-Timer), reboot the system, then uninstall from the Add/Remove applet in the Control Panel. Rebooting allows XP to reconfigure the registry to remove any Tea-Timer keys and values.

3] Any other security utilities you have that Load at Startup and run in the background, eg Malwarebytes' Anti-malware, CWS Shredder, HJT, RootKitBuster, RUBotted, remove them all from starting up and just use them as manual scanners.

Any of these might be preventing Windows from updating, or even those two apps from installing.

Other things;

4] Have a look at Microsoft's guidance on this here;
Although not exactly the same issue, it is similar.

5] Although that Microsoft KB doesn't mention it specifically, try visiting the Windows Update site manually, (Start > Windows Update shortcut link). That will use Internet Explorer. Let the web site scan your system, then see if you can download and install the updates from there.

6] Firefox. It's strange that with all your security apps and scans you are having a problem with a tracking cookie. Look at all of Firefox's Add-ons, (Tools > Add-ons), and see if there are any there you didn't know about and/or don't need.

You could try a speciality cookie remover like the free version of CCleaner. It is non-intrusive, meaning it won't automatically set itself to load at startup. But note the following precautions;

a) If you decide to install CCleaner, watch the install process carefully. The free version used to attempt to install the Yahoo Toolbar. You don't need that and can suppress it from within the install process.

b) If you run it, all browsers must be closed down. It will remove all cookies, so any login details you have, eg CNET, will be deleted. You can save specified cookies from CCleaner's Options > Cookies.

c) Do not use CCleaner's Registry cleaner. Unlike others, this registry cleaner little harm, but nevertheless it is not needed.

I hope that helps.


Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions

Smart Home Help

Light bulbs you shouldn't buy

There are plenty of dimmable LED light bulbs, but make sure you don't buy the ones that flicker when you dial them down.