Monday, August 11, 2008

Why wont load with IE7 on Vista (and how to get around it)

My kids wanted to watch the Olympic swimming events going on in Beijing.  Since NBC is streaming all the venues, I figures I would just fire up the web browser and wander over to   We have a “family” pc that everyone can use and it runs Vista Home Premimum (32-bit), with Service Pack 1 installed.  Since I knew that NBC was going to be using the Microsoft stack with Silverlight to stream the video, I figured I would have the least amount of headaches with Internet Explorer 7.  Wrong!

When I entered in into IE, I got the following error: “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”.  I figured I mistyped the URL, that wasn’t it.  Out of the relatively small combinations that the letters N, B, and C can be arranged, I did have the right URL.  Could it be that was done?  Nope, I tried “ping –n 1” and received the following

Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:                               
Reply from bytes=32 time=44ms TTL=55                                            
Ping statistics for                                                             
    Packets: Sent = 1, Received = 1, Lost = 0 (0% loss),                                         
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:                                                   
    Minimum = 44ms, Maximum = 44ms, Average = 44ms                                                

That tells us that their site is live and responding to requests.  Just for giggles, I launched FireFox 3 and entered in the URL.  Sure enough, that worked just fine.  What was the problem with and IE7?  I did a search with Google (and Yahoo for a change of pace) and saw that a number of people were reporting the same problem.  No one knew the cause and the only resolution was “just use Firefox”.  Normally, that would be an acceptable answer for me.  Today, I’m feeling a bit cranky and I want to know what the problem is between and IE7.  The odds are it’s something trivial on the nbc,com side.  We haven’t had any problems with IE7 on Vista before.

I did notice that a lot of people reporting the problem had Tablet PC’s. I don’t have a Tablet PC, it’s just an plain ol’ Dell desktop.  But I did install a Wacom Bamboo tablet and installing it’s drivers did activate some user input functionality in Vista that wasn’t there before.  Why would this affect the browser?  As it turns out, when Vista thinks it’s now a Tablet PC the user agent string sent by IE changes.

Here’s the typical user-agent string sent by IE7 for various operating systems.

For Windows XP SP2: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1)

For Windows 2003 Server: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.2)

For Windows Vista: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)

Note, these are the base strings, different applications can change or add to these values.  On my machine, the user agent has some information:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; SLCC1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; Media Center PC 5.0; .NET CLR 3.0.04506; .NET CLR 3.5.21022; Tablet PC 2.0; Creative ZENcast v2.01.01)

That says that I’m running IE7 on Vista, with .NET 2, 3, and 3.5 installed.  Media Center extension are installed, it thinks it’s a Tablet PC, and I have Creative’s Zencast (a podcast download app).

Notice the text in bold, “Table PC 2.0”.  When that text is submitted to as part of the user agent, the website is doing some sort of re-direct that is failing.  So we have what appears to the cause of the problem, now how do we fix it.  I tried faking out the user agent string with a download from Microsoft called the User Agent String Utility, version 2.  Don’t event bother with that one.  It opens up a new browser window that has been tweaked to report itself as IE 6.0 but that’s the only part of the user agent string that gets modified.  It still uses “Table PC 2.0”, so the problem still remains.

In theory, you can edit the list of items that get tacked on the user agent string by hacking at the registry.  With IE7, the list of fields added to the user agent string are defined as REG_SZ values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent\Post Platform.  I tried removing “Tablet PC 2.0” from the list, but the OS kept putting it back in.  Plus, we really shouldn’t have to modify our systems, the problem is due to not sniffing the user agent string correctly.

I did a little searching on the Internet and I found a working solution here.  Instead of using as the starting URL, use  That site bypasses the user agent check and it allowed me to the live feeds of the Olympic events.  A very simple solution, but a typical home user would never figure it out on his own and just blame Vista for it.


  1. Chris, you rock. I've been having the same problem for months on my Vista Universal machine. I too have a Wacom Bamboo tablet. Thanks for the solution.

  2. Hey Chris, you're a genius. Who could have known that the problem is with

  3. Has anyone told of the problem? I have had the same problems...

  4. I posted a comment on their web site, you should too, It's the squeaky wheel that gets oiled.

  5. Chris,

    Your the man i have been racking my brain for the last 3 days trying to figure this out. Thanks laot for your help

  6. I discovered this problem on my Vista Tablet a couple of days ago. I even downloaded Firefox 3.0.3 to check it out - it gives me an interesting error:

    Redirect Loop

    Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.

    The browser has stopped trying to retrieve the requested item. The site is redirecting the request in a way that will never complete.

    * Have you disabled or blocked cookies required by this site?
    * NOTE: If accepting the site's cookies does not resolve the problem, it is likely a server configuration issue and not your computer.

    All of my non-tablet pc's load the page correctly. I guess us lowly tablet users are stuck using for now...

  7. AWESOME!!! I knew someone would eventually post a fix! :-)

  8. The annoying part is that this is not a fix, it's a work around. If everone who reads this could leave a comment on NBC website (ok, to complain about, maybe they will fix it.

  9. Thanks Chris! Also, I went to and wanted to watch The Office, well when I clicked on it, I got the same message as before, I then went up to the address bar, put in an "i" to make it AND IT WORKED! booya my friend, booya.

  10. CHRIS you are my HERO!! I have been having this problem for months and have been searching the web for a solution!!! Thank you!!! I never in a million years would have figured it out....

  11. Thank you so much Chris! I'm back to watching Lipstick Jungle -- all is right with the world. ::Sigh:: :P

  12. I love writing all kinds of crazy Scheiße on peoples blogs

  13. Oh sweet mystery of life at last I have found you! Thanks so much. I have been plagued by this for months and had to install Firefox just for the nbc website alone. I purchased (and returned) a cheap knockoff of a Wacom tablet some time ago. I never installed the software, but the Vista Ultimate used it's own drivers. I had it in there for about 15 minutes then removed it, but now IE7 thinks its a tablet PC! So I removed the indication from the registry (run as administrator), closed all ie7 windows, opened a new one, cleared all cookies, temp files, etc. Now nbc works! Thanks so much! Any ideas why I cannot get the newest version of Flash to work? I have tried bunches of stuff, and it acts like it is installed, but certain websites insist it isn't the most recent version (such as Walgreen's and Circuit City ads, CNN for full screen and many, many others) which is driving me crazy. The IE8 beta works as well as the Firefox version.

  14. wicked weird. i noticed the site wasn't working for me, but i had no idea what the problem was. I saw people saying that it was due to tablet pcs, but I thought to myself, "I don't have one."
    I forgot that I had installed WACOM drives and therefore had a tablet pc.
    the problem was pinpointed and occurred at that moment.
    internet tv-show sites are terrible. so is dell.

  15. ya by the way its not vista , i have xp and the same problem , i used to be able to log in fine a couple weeks ago till i tried now , so i dont know what changed from then .

  16. I've been having this same issue, but this is not a tablet PC, nor are there any tablets installed. I also do not have the "Tablet PC" entry in the registry key thats been discussed here. I've searched through my registry looking for anything of this nature, and no luck.

    I thought I'd post my user agent string to see if anyone had any ideas...

    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; WOW64; GTB5; SLCC1; .NET CLR 3.0.04506; Media Center PC 5.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; Creative AutoUpdate v1.10.10)


  17. Sen,
    Have you tried using one of the User Agent spoofing tools to identify which part of the user agent string has confused NBC? There are a few out there. I saw (but did not try) wannabrowser. That would let you manually set the user agent string.

  18. No I have not. I was hoping to find something like that to help identify whats holding it up. I'm starting to think it may be the creative autoupdate entry.

  19. Turns out it was the "Creative AutoUpdate v1.10.10" entry... Removed that and all is well.

  20. Sen,

    You should report that as an error to NBC. This link is probably as good as any other. You shouldn't have to tweak your user agent string just deal with a badly design web site.

  21. I most probably will. This happened on their site, starbucks and (went there since someone posted s similar thread as this). I have no idea if there were others or not, as this is a relatively new build.

  22. I send sent the user agent string to all three sites and ask why you were being incorrectly redirected. The odds are they are all using some list of strings to look for in the user agent string. I would curious to know what actual mobile device would have the string values from your user agent string.


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