Another Windows 7 stupidity (or two)

For years I’ve had little or nothing to do with Windows and suddenly I find myself having to come to grips with it in order to teach others how to use it.

One of my users accidentally set the default program for .lnk files on her Acer Aspire One netbook to a specific program.  So then every desktop icon wanted to use Adobe Reader—as it happened—to open its associated executable.

I searched all over in the “Control Panel” thingy (and the “Computer” thingy) looking for a way to reset the association, or even to just manually set the association for each link: you know, something like `ln -s …`, but gave up after half an hour and googled for an answer.

It appears that the only solution is to download an unsigned executable from an unknown (to me) site on the interwebs, that will—when extracted and installed—open a GUI that will allow a user to specify to reset the file association for a .lnk file back to its, “No specific program” setting.  It does this, of course, by resetting the relevant entries in the Windows Registry.  So users are forced to execute an unknown program that messes with the Registry in order to fix this problem (or mess with the Registry themselves, of course, which I can’t see many users doing).

How secure is that?

Can someone please tell me there’s a better, simpler solution that doesn’t involve running dodgy software?  I really can’t believe this is the only way.

But for the moment, my user’s netbook is sat in a corner doing a full virus scan.  Maybe she’ll get to use it in a few hours and will only have lost half a day’s productivity.  And maybe she’ll think twice about telling me she really needs a Windows box next time we come to buying her a new laptop/netbook.  After six months she still fires up her old Linux (Mandriva) netbook to do some things, despite its years.

By the way, the reason why the .lnk association gets set by mistake is that users might mistakenly right click on a desktop link and select to run it using a specific executable.  By default, this will reset the association for all .lnk files unless the user unchecks the appropriate check box.  The problem would not arise if that checkbox were unchecked by default.  Another great decision!

And while we’re at it…

Is it possible to “unhide” common file extensions in Windows 7 Home Starter?  I couldn’t find it, although I’ve found it in Home Premium.

Time for a restorative cup of tea.

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