Strange Application Switching in Windows

This is happening on a friend's new computer...and was happening on the his old computer, too.

Old WinXP computer- Working in one application, say Word 2003, while Firefox is open. All of a sudden active window switches to Firefox. Very aggravating. Would switch from other applications as well. No need to go into detail, but I tried EVERYTHING to resolve, but to no avail. I thought it was either my friend (87 years old) or some weird hardware glitch.

Brand new Win7 Dell computer - using Office 2013 now, and all brand new installations of everything of course. Same thing is happening, and that this time it's happened to me several times while I've been remoted in with LogMeIn.

After installation of new computer, I connected his old HD to the new computer with USB cable to copy his data. Maybe some malware or root kit infection migrated to the new computer?

Multiple scans with multiple big name scanners found nothing!

It's a pretty vanilla system with the following programs in use:
Office 2013
Photoshop Elements
HP OfficeJet printer & software
Eudora for e-mail (no comments please! :-))
Adobe Reader
NOD32 Antivirus
Startup programs are VERY clean!

I'm stumped!


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Marc ZCommented:
Mark,  by any chance,  is this a new keyboard or his old one?  Possible that Alt+Tab stuck?

If no,  what would his Firefox home page be set to?  What page/add-on is pulling Firefox to front?   Have you looked at his  Firefox profile?  Tested with a new one?  Run Firefox in its safe mode - Help-> Restart with Add-ons Disabled.  

Consider adding No Script to his Firefox.
markperl1Author Commented:
It's a new KB. We tried a new KB on the old computer as well.

The firefox profile is new. The only addon is Adobe Flash player.

I don't think it's related to firefox specifically. Other apps swtiched while I was remoted in at different times, although I don't recall what switched. I actually was just happy to see it happen to me. My friend was relieved as HE was now off the hook! :-D
Ratnesh MishraCommented:
Please run process explorer . Try to see what kind of applications are running . Is there any application which is running as TSR [Transient and resident] .
Is there any application which is running and you are not aware of and its not even owned by Microsoft.
In this kind of scenario , I have found process explorer and process monitor a great help .

Process monitor will collect the all activity in your machine while its running and the log size grows abnormally. So its suggested to run when you have sufficient disk space and expected time of issue is sooner.
In order to understand both the tools you may go through the book "Windows-Sysinternals-Administrator-s-Reference"
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markperl1Author Commented:
Ran process explorer. Certainly there's lots of non-MS stuff running, but nothing I don't recognize. I went through Services and disabled a bunch of non-essential stuff.

The problem is intermittent, so I'll not run process monitor just yet.

Thank you!
The issue might be related to firefox and the page the person is on that brings firefox into the forefront.  Check the firefox settings.
markperl1Author Commented:
Ooops, sorry, thought I'd posted the following earlier today...

Same thing happens with Chrome and IE!

Cursor also is sometimes hanging when typing e-mail. Have to double click to get it back.

Ran several more virus and rootkit scanners to no avail.

Some kinda hardware problem? But it happened on old PC, too!

I'm in SoCal and friend is in Marysville, WA. I went to WA to setup computer. In another post on EE I asked for a referral to a consultant in the area to get a second pair of eyes on the issue.
Presumably you tried using teamviewer.

When transferring data from the old to the new was only documents transferred or where user settings transferred as well?

Try using sysinternal's process explorer/monitor to see what is running on the system.
markperl1Author Commented:
Not sure why you mentioned Teamviewer, but I use LogMeIn for remote control.

Data was transferred to the new computer by removing the HD from the old computer and attaching it to the new computer using a USB cable. Only his personal files were then copied.

Tried process explorer, but didn't recognize anything untoward.
Taking into account your efforts, one option is a short cut key that triggers the same behavior as alt+tab.
Is the user typing when a browser is brought into focus?
Does it happen only when a browser is open or does this behavior happen with any second application that is running along with word??

word and notepad the only two applications open.
typing in word, does notepad come into focus?

When in word, is it in full screen mode? It might be that the

When a browser comes into focus, does it load, try to load a page, i.e.
Look at the word toolbars, is web one of them? I.e. while typing the go to web page event is triggered??

Try the following, once a browser is opened (any) make sure it is on a blank page

see if the browser comes into focus while in word.
Every once in a while when apps windows are not full screen (two applications, one is from top left to horizontal middle below the center of the screen, the other left of middle and above the center of the screen to bottom right as a tile), the mouse click permeates the front (in focus window clicking in the center of the screen)
The browser behind is being passed that a click on a link occurred which brings it into focus and loading a new page.
markperl1Author Commented:
The 2 applications that are open are the browser (IE, Chrome or Firefox) and the e-mail program, Eudora.

This happens to me when I remote into the computer using LogMeIn.

Eudora and IE were open in full screen. I was was sitting on a website page, just viewing it, and the screen flipped over to Eudora! I switched back to IE, and The same exact thing happened within 2 minutes. No one was even in the room with the computer.
So Eudora grabs focus?  Check whether your preferences are set to ring Eudora into focus when an email arrives.

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markperl1Author Commented:
There is no preference like that for Eudora as it's an ancient program. The switch can happen the opposite way too. I've been using Eudora for years and it's not the problem. I have many other friends using it with Win7 as well with no difficulty.
Haven't used it in quite some time since Qualcomm stopped development for it. 7.x.
I believe there was a configuration/alert that dealt with received new messages.
But since it afflicts other applications, it is an intriguing ....

Look at c:\windows\prefetch to make sure there is nothing there strange.  You can delete any/all .pf files.  Create a new user and have the individual use it to see whether the issue follows it or not.  There  might be a file with a corrupt macro that when opened, afflicts the user with this switching issue.
Another option, process explorer has an option to turn on boot logging ( but you have to upon boot look at the data and turn boot logging off since it will continue collecting data to a point that the drive might run of space.
This process might capture what might be messing with it.

If the switch occurs while idle, see whether this behavior is from a screen saver. (What are the screen saver settings?)
markperl1Author Commented:
Thank you for your suggestions. It'll be several days before I'll have a chance to get back to it.
markperl1Author Commented:

Was just able to get back to this, and made an interesting discovery, Because of some adjustments I made I restarted the computer. After the restart, I had 3 or 4 different programs open, manually switching between them...and realized the sudden
app switching was not happening, although I'd experienced it shortly after I remoted into the computer. Mmmm....

My friend had also complained that when he was typing in Eudora the cursor would disappear every once in a while, and he'd have to click back into the e-mail body to get it back.

I started composing an e-mail, experienced the disappearing cursor, but realized it was when Eudora checked its mail check every minute. My friend's 88 yrs old, and his eye sight sucks. As a result he never noticed this before. I changed the e-mail check to 10 minutes.

I also think this is what may be causing the app switching, something you touched on earlier.  When Eudora checks e-mail, it may be causing the focus change.

I don't have Eudora checking e-mail regularly because I use a spam filtering program up front, so I don't experience this problem.

Eudora worked fine in WinXp, but lost a step or 2 in Win7. It lost another step or 2 in Win8 which is what I use. I spent a few hours today leaning/testing importing Eudora into Outlook 2013. It works, so will be moving my friend into Outlook later in the week after I return from a trip.

And when I return I'll find out if the Eudora e-mail checking has all along been the culprit, and post the update here.
markperl1Author Commented:

That was it! When I changed the check mail setting from 1 min. to 10 min. all was well again!

Thank you for the reminder!

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