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Issue #58: August 31, 2008

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Q: When using Windows XP I frequently (but not always) get a Windows Live sign in window when I try to open Internet Explorer.  When I sign in using a password I get a screen hawking Hotmail or I get a screen indicating the page is not available.  I have deleted everything named Windows Live and disabled Windows Messenger but I cannot kill this snake.  Help!  I do not want a sign in page and I do not want Hotmail.

– Charles M.
Shalimar, FL

A: “Windows Live” is a Microsoft trademark that refers to a collection of products that provide a broad range of services from multi-user collaboration to anti-spyware.  Personally, I don’t use the service, so I don’t have direct experience with it, or your problem.  However, I can make a pretty Geeky guess for you.  At the very least I can provide you with some new information.

Like any personalized service, you must sign-in to Windows Live so it can identify your account information.  It very likely parks a cookie on your computer that indicates you’re signed in.  The cookie probably exists from browser session to session (possibly for days at a time) but expires periodically.  That would explain why the request to sign-in is not consistent.  Microsoft has re-branded Hotmail for use under the Windows Live umbrella, and you’re being presented with an ad when you sign in.  Not much you can do about that.

When trying to eliminate problems with unwanted software running, there is one place users either tend to overlook, or simply don’t know about, and that’s browser add-ons.  Since you say you’ve deleted everything you can find named Windows Live (a practice that this Geek does not advocate, by the way, unless you know precisely what you’re doing) I’m guessing that if you look, you’ll find a Browser Helper Object (BHO) or a plug-in for Windows Live.

To view installed add-ons, run IE and select Tools->Internet Options.  Click the “Programs” tab, then click “Manage add-ons”.  CAUTION!  Incorrect changes from this point on can cause some web pages to stop working correctly!  Look in the list for the helpful application that is driving you nuts.  Select it, and in the “Settings” box near the bottom of the dialog, change it to “Disabled”.  Click “OK” and see if your problem goes away.

Q: I frequently receive emails that are much wider than the window frame, how can one format them so that they will fit the screen?

– Lynn P.
Santa Rosa Beach,FL

A: Whatever software you’re using to view your e-mails should automatically wrap lines at the edge of your window.  The only thing that I can think of that would cause it to not do that would be e-mail containing special HTML formatting that explicitly defines line breaks.  Look in your e-mail reader’s configuration to see if there’s any user settings to control line wrap or word wrap.  You might also try viewing the e-mail as plain text (the procedures to do this vary depending on your e-mail reader).

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