IE7 crash on toshiba L300 satellite pro

Here’s a weird one for you all: Fresh install on a Toshiba Satellite Pro L300 laptop, Windows fully updated, Internet Explorer 7 installed and updated… go to bigpond.com, log into a user’s account, and IE will half-load the page and then crash horribly, citing an error in mshtml.dll. This was at least the second L300 that’s had this problem, and we were keen to fix it for the future.

New Toshiba laptops come with recovery CDs that re-image the hard drive with a Windows XP Professional install, downgrading from its native Vista Business OS. First thing we tried was reinstalling with a regular XP Pro OEM CD, which resulted in no change whatsoever.

We had a complete fresh XP Pro install on another brand new laptop – a different brand and model – set up in exactly the same way, right next to it, which didn’t have the same problem at all. The only difference in setup was that the Toshiba’s owner had bought MS Office to go with it, while on the other one we’d merely installed OpenOffice (it’s free, go look at it).

Key thing here is that the full OpenOffice install also includes Java. Turns out that installing Java fixed the problem on the Toshiba laptop; IE would simply crash if it hit a webpage with Java on it.

Having figured the problem involved lacking a plugin of some sort, we also installed Flash. We didn’t have time to test conclusively that it was one or the other, but we’re pretty much betting on the problem being not having Java.

This probably isn’t limited to L300s, but we’ve never seen this behaviour on any other computer ever. Possibly it’s something crazy to do with Toshiba’s new-model XP drivers, maybe not. Either way, if you’ve come here from Google looking for a fix, try Java. It’s good for you.

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