PROBLEM: I'm having hung app and shutdown problems on my desktop PC running Windows XP SP2. The biggest problem is that Outlook 2003 hangs frequently (sometimes also IE 7.0) and I have to remove power from the PC to get it to shut down, then restart. Very frustrating!
BACKGROUND: I'm running Windows XP Pro SP2 (5.1.2600 SP2 Build 2600) on a Dell Precision 470 workstation - 2.8 GHz dual processor with 1GB RAM. I have MS Office 2003 SP2, with Outlook 2003 at version 11.8118.3132. My browser is MS IE 7.0.5730.11. I have an HP LaserJet 3330 printer (4-in-1) and a dedicated fax line attached to that. I use the fax and keep it on. I do not have any Windows fax devices set up in Printers and Faxes that I know of - I believe the fax process uses HP software.
SYMPTOMS: On a fairly frequent basis (several times a day), I have to shutdown and reboot my system very harshly (i.e., disconnect AC power from the *&R$%*! thing and then restart), because I get hung apps that cannot be killed with Task Manager. This occurs exclusively with either Outlook 2003 or IE 7.0. Especially if I've gone out of the office for awhile and left the computer on, I will return to check my email in Outlook or look at a web page in IE, and discover that the app is frozen, the hour glass cursor is everywhere, except possibly I can minimize the app window but not close it. If IE is the culprit, I can usually get it to close through Task Manager, however, if I restart IE, the same problem occurs. Only a shutdown and reboot solves this problem. The biggest problem is with Outlook. I cannot kill the process in Task Manager - it just says that Outlook is unresponsive. Then when I try to shut down through Start or Task Manager, a mysterious process called HiddenFaxWindow appears in a separate dialog box and refuses to die. I can't find it in Task Manager. At that point, I have no other recourse but to pull the power plug. Then after I restart, everything is fine again - for awhile, maybe even for hours, but eventually I go through this same drill again before the end of the day.
OTHER THINGS I'VE TRIED: I did some online research on other techie web sites, only to find that some others have experienced the same or similar problems, but no one really offered a fix that works for me. The most frequent "answer" was to disable Fax functionality (I assume they mean Windows Fax) in Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows. I tried that and it did not work. When I look in Printers and Faxes, the only fax device I see is the HP LaserJet 3330 Fax, which I don't want to disable because I use it. I've checked the Properties dialog and, offhand, I don't see any settings that I might change to eliminate this problem. The Advanced tab has several settings that can be changed, but none of these seem to relate to the problem I'm having. However, I'm open to suggestions from those who know more about this.
QUESTION: This has become such a vexing problem to me that I will give more than "half my kingdom" of points (which at this time is not extremely large, since I'm fairly new here) to the Expert who can help me resolve this. Anyway, at least 250 points - more if I am allowed to give more. I'm hoping that the answer is not to re-install Windows and Office, but if it is, so be it! Thanks in advance.