Win 7 Default programs to open file extension

BobMc7771 used Ask the Experts™
I am fighting a 12 month old laptop with Win 7

User complained that when double clicking an .xls file Word opened the file instead of Excel

If you use file open with Excel it works fine

When I go to Control Panel Default Programs / Associate a file type  it comes to the loading screen but never loads (gave it 15 minutes)

Wondering if anyone has seen this and might have suggestions

Thank you
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Shift+Right click the file>Open With>Select Excel, and then make sure to check the box at the bottom, to "Always open this type of file......"....

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