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Programs not launching from Windows Explorer

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This is an intermittent problem and it only seems to affect MS Office97 (Word, Excel) files. If I double click on a doc or xls file in Windows Explorer, it sometimes doesn't open the application and Windows Explorer stops responding. If I open the same file straight from (say) Winword, it opens without problems. The file associations are correct (e.g. open .doc with Winword.exe).

If I shut down the PC and re-boot, all is well again - until the next time. It seems quite unpredictable and random.

I'm using XP Home (SP2) and Word, Excel etc. from Office97. I know about the caveats installing Office97 in SP2 and have heeded them - I don't think that's the issue as this is a recent problem (the programs have been installed for nearly two years).

Any help would be much appreciated.
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