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Explorer glitch fixed

Users of an Internet Explorer administration kit say that they have received letters from Microsoft fixing a glitch in the supposedly easy-to-install software.

Users of an Internet Explorer administration kit said today that they have begun receiving letters from Microsoft (MSFT) fixing a glitch in the supposedly easy-to-install software package.

Microsoft had promised a ten-digit code to activate the software, which allows companies to customize the browser and simplify component installation. But CNET reported earlier that the kit came only with a seven-digit code, making it impossible to install.

The glitch had frustrated a "few thousand" customers across he country who ordered the software. Touted in September as "an easy way to customize and distribute the best browser available today," the software allows companies to create a "one-click" installation of all related browser components, including Internet Mail and News.

But the kit only came with a seven-digit code. What's more, users had complained that Microsoft was not promptly responding to complaints.

"It seems like a giant snafu on their part," said Ron Mitchell, system administrator for Technographix Information Systems, a content provider. "What's bizarre is that they haven't responded to my complaint."

Other users felt the same. Added Steven Garver of Hiser Implement, a computer retailer in Iola, Kansas: "You anxiously await IEAK to implement the product, and it doesn't work. It's a little frustrating."

Kevin Unangst, product manager for Explorer, confirmed that a company hired by Microsoft to distribute the software had inadvertently sent out the wrong code. The company then sent out letters with the correct code to affected users by overnight mail.

As for not promptly responding to consumers electronically, Microsoft said one of its servers was down for routine maintenance. Unangst said the communications problem was a coincidence that is also being corrected.

Microsoft addressed the problem in a public newsgroup Tuesday.

"Sorry it took so long to get back to you on this one," the newsgroup support administrator said. "I was offline Sunday and most of Monday due to serious computer problems, then the entire news server was offline since Monday afternoon during 'unscheduled upgrades.'"

It went on to say: "Everyone is being mailed new codes today. If you received a code which is not ten digits long, do not email. [We] are already receiving hundreds of emails on this subject."