Customer brought in a Dell Latitude laptop running Windows XP Pro.
About two weeks ago, she thinks it was when adobe flash player was updating itself, things went screwy on her windows desktop. She lost her original desktop picture and can’t change anything on her desktop.
There’s a grab bag of symptoms.
I go into display properties advanced settings, I can try to change something, like icon size or icon font, but it won’t change. I go to control panel and try to change to ‘classic view’. That won’t change. After doing something I saw: Windows script host – access denied
I created a second administrative id. I can change display settings there and switch to classic view. But screwy things are still going on.
On either id, whenever I click on ‘control panel’ or ‘my computer’… Windows installer comes up and says “preparing to install”. The message flashes and then goes away. But it never installs anything or says what it’s preparing to install.
I uninstalled Norton 360 because I thought it might have something to do with that. I also completely uninstalled HP products because I was getting a message all the time that one of their programs was trying to install. No change. I also updated flash player because the client mentioned that.
I ran Trendmicro Housecall and a full Malwarebytes anti-malware scan and came up with nothing.
I installed Avast for anti-virus.
I installed msicuu2.exe, the windows installer cleanup utility and looked for failed uninstalls.
I did a repair install of Windows XP Pro SP2. Thought that should do it, but it didn’t.
I installed process explorer and saw that update.exe and svchost.exe netsvcs were using lots of cpu. I stops BITS and Windows Update. That cut the cpu usage but still had the problems.
There was something screwy involving IE. After doing the XP repair install I had IE6 on the computer. I think I got in once and tried Windows update but that went forever. (After trying lots of things it gets a bit confused.) After that it wouldn’t come in and/or referred me to Firefox.
I tried to install IE8 by direct download but always got this message:
“KB218440 – The version of Internet Explorer you have installed does not match the update you are trying to install.”
I finally was able to update to SP3 using the direct download. Tried to install IE8 and got the same message.
I was able to install IE7 by direct download.
Tried to install IE8 again and got the same message.
I just restarted Windows automatic update. It downloaded and installed updates successfully. Lo and behold, it successfully updated to IE8. But on the owners userid whenever I start IE it’s like I’ve started it for the first time. It asked me about suggested sites, defaults, etc.
A bar at top: “your current security settings put your computer at risk. Click here to change security settings”. This happens even when I change the settings. My guess is that this is a symptom and not the cause. I went into Internet options and tried to restore the advanced settings. Couldn’t do it. Still getting “preparing to install whenever I try control panel or my computer. Still can’t switch to classic view in the control panel.
So something somewhere is screwed up. Permissions? Registry? How do I unscrew it?