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All .exes open up with a different program | Windows 7

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Hi all!

Posting here for the sake of my mother. Her computer has recently been suffering from a problem where all programs (including pretty key ones like Command Prompt) are opening with the incorrect program. For a day or so, her computer tried opening everything with Picture Viewer; now it insists on "downloading" every program and asking you if you want to run or save, and upon clicking run, you head right back into the loop with the computer asking you if you want to download the program again.

I have absolutely no idea what took her from Picture Viewer to the download manager, and my mom doesn't remember either. She also doesn't remember what got her to the program issue to begin with. Somehow, miraculously, she still has access to the IE program.

In terms of things I've tried:
- System Restore won't open
- Default program settings opened back during her Picture Viewer stage, but all the default programs listed there seemed normal
- Tried this article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950505 ...but snagged both in opening cmd and notepad, which brought me to the download manager loop

But everything about the problem seems to match that article. Executables won't open in their proper program, icons are messed (although notably, Windows Explorer still has its correct icon on the taskbar, but won't open properly) and all show a sheet of paper with IE's logo in the center... etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. You guys have been my lifesaver before, so here's hoping!

Her computer's a Sony Vaio, if that makes any difference.
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Hi hakufuu
Download the Fix it file from the Microsoft KB article, then right click and run as Administrator. Check if that works.
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I think you should also consider a malware infection. To check it out, go to the Virus, Spyware, Malware Removal forum, read the first post and follow instructions.

Come back here once you get a clean bill of health if you still have problems.
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