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Originally published Friday, October 25, 2013 at 4:09 PM

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Windows 8 update bombing? Sounds like a driver conflict

Some Windows 8 users are reporting trouble updating to Windows 8.1, and Patrick Marshall suspects Microsoft’s own driver programs are the problem.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: We have two computers, each with Windows 8. I installed 8.1 on one with no problem, although it took a surprisingly long time. The second, however, failed during the first of several restarts required to complete the installation.

A helpful Microsoft tech worked with my computer remotely for about two hours until the installation seemed to be progressing successfully. However, it failed again before completion and reverted to the original Windows 8.

Another Microsoft rep told me that others are having the same issue and to try again “in the future,” when they have fixed the problem. I’ve got better things to do. Any thoughts?

— Alan Mebane, Sammamish

A: Generally, an update fails because of a conflict with a driver on the device. A programmer may write a driver that works just fine with the current version of the operating system, but if it isn’t written strictly to the specified requirements, when the operating system is updated the driver may suddenly not work as desired — and may cause the whole system to come undone.

And no, it’s not just outside programmers who may cause such problems. Apparently some of the Microsoft drivers for that company’s RT devices prevented the 8.1 update from working.

Q: I am hoping you can help me with a browser issue. I am running Vista (Service Pack 2) on my Dell PC. I have used Internet Explorer for some time and have the latest version downloaded. However, when I now attempt to open it, a partial view of my home page (Comcast) will appear, but will not fully open. The page will sit there forever and a day while the download icon continues to spin. Comcast email does continue to download to Windows Live.

I thought that uninstalling and reloading it might solve the problem. However, Internet Explorer is nowhere to be found when I go to the Control Panel and select the uninstall option. So I can’t unload it and reinstall it. Can you help solve this mystery? I am using Firefox in the interim and it works fine, but I do prefer Internet Explorer.

— Jim Wells

A: Internet Explorer is treated differently from third-party applications. Once you’ve launched the Programs and Features utility from the Control Panel, click on View Installed Updates in the left-hand panel. Next, right-click on Internet Explorer in the display that pops open, and then click on Uninstall. The rest is obvious.

After completing the uninstall, just download Internet Explorer and reinstall.

By the way, if you haven’t already done so, I recommend scanning for malware.

Interestingly, for those using Windows 8.1, you can no longer uninstall Internet Explorer. Microsoft now considers it an integrated part of the operating system. You can turn the IE feature on or off, but you can’t uninstall it.

If you choose to turn it off, you have a choice: You can make IE no longer accessible, but still allow other programs and Windows to access parts of its code, or you can turn it off entirely.

Q: I’ve run into an irritating problem using Mozilla Firefox. When I try to highlight text on a page, it works just fine until I get to the bottom of the screen. Then, instead of scrolling down and continuing to highlight, everything stops. It works fine if I go to the bottom of the page and scroll up. Weird.

— Brad Austin

A: Mozilla doesn’t call it a bug, but it is aware of the “issue.”

All you need to do is call up the main menu, click on Options and then activate the Add-on bar. There’s no apparent reason for the browser to be designed this way, since many users may not have any add-ons installed and may not need quick access to them, but there you have it.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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