Using Java 5 (Update 11) with IE while Java 6 (Update 21) is installed for use with Firefox

Here's the background: our company has one particular system that will only run properly using Java 5 update 11. Before recently, I simply used this version of Java for everything because it ran well enough. I run most things in Firefox or through Firefox using IE Tab, but occasionally I'll use IE itself, such as for this one system, because it tends to crash Firefox. (This computer is an HP laptop with Windows XP.)

Recently there was some sort of glitch with my install of Firefox that prevented any web access except local systems to run in native Firefox. Anything would run in IE tabs as usual, but not in native Firefox tabs. So I decided I had to upgrade Firefox from 3.0.whatever to 3.6.8, and that solved that problem. However, Firefox 3.6 and above will only recognize Java 6 and above.

So now I want to run Java 6 for Firefox and Java 5.11 for Internet Explorer, which will satisfy all requirements. The problem is that even when Java 5.11 is installed first, Java 6 overwrites it as the system version. Java 5 still exists as a user version, but Internet Explorer will no longer recognize that I have it installed. See screenshots of the User versions and the System versions tabs in the Java control panel settings, and the Java section of the advanced IE settings. This is with both versions installed. When I had only Java 5 installed, IE happily recognized it. The advanced setting said "Use JRE 1.5.0_11 for <applet> (requires restart)" instead of "Use JRE 1.6.0_21 for <applet> (requires restart)" as it does now.

How do I get Internet Explorer to use Java 5 instead of Java 6 while still allowing Firefox to use Java 6?
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telyni19Asked:
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David S.Commented:
In that case, some of the information on these two pages might be helpful to you. They seem to say how to control which version of Java will be used by applications.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/71254/force-internet-explorer-to-use-a-specific-java-runtime-environment-install
http://forums.sun.com/thread.jspa?threadID=680063


> Maybe this is too hard a question and I need to go directly to Java tech support.

"Hard" isn't the word I'd use. It just requires very specialized knowledge.
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telyni19Author Commented:
As an additional piece of information, the Java 5 install actually asked me in the custom installation options which browsers I wanted to use it. I chose only Internet Explorer (although I could have enabled it for Firefox also, it wouldn't have done anything because Firefox 3.6 refuses to recognize the older versions).

However, the Java 6 install gave me no such options. There was no choice for a custom install or any options other than where to place the installation.
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David S.Commented:
The only solution I know of to use different versions of Java in different browsers is to use a virtual machine (VMware, MS Virtual PC, etc.).
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telyni19Author Commented:
This is a work computer, so it wouldn't be convenient or practical to use a VM I don't think. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this would basically involve running two separate copies of windows simultaneously with one version of java active in each one. My computer is slow enough to start up without doubling its overhead.

The point I'm getting at is that both versions are still installed. They both show up in the add/remove programs list. They both show up in the user versions list. But somehow java 6 has overwritten java 5 as a system version, making java 5 inaccessible to Internet Explorer, and I need it not to do that. Why don't I get a choice?

Any other ideas?
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David S.Commented:
Since you're computer is already slow, then yes, you probably would not want to add the extra load of a VM.

> Why don't I get a choice?

Many software packages are not designed to have multiple versions installed on the same system. IE itself is the same way.

> Any other ideas?

Another option would be to find another computer and set up some kind of remote desktop (or VNC) server on it, so you could (indirectly) have access to both versions of Java on your workstation.
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telyni19Author Commented:
The Java website itself says that while the latest version is recommended, it is possible to run multiple versions:

"You can also keep older versions of Java installed, in case you have an applet/application that still depends upon a previous version."
(http://www.java.com/en/download/faq/remove_olderversions.xml)

I do have an application that depends on a previous version.

Maybe this is too hard a question and I need to go directly to Java tech support.
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telyni19Author Commented:
That did it! And the actual solution, for the record, was really simple: just disable Java 6 as a user version. It stays active as a system version, so Firefox can use it, and then IE is somehow forced to use Java 5 as intended. It's not at all obvious that the interactions will work that way when the Java version can't be set from within IE directly, but I got the result I wanted and that's what matters. Thanks!
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