[IE8] about:tabs page is missing all functionality

Discussion in 'Internet Explorer' started by VanguardLH, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    Windows XP Pro SP-3
    Internet Explorer 8.00.6001.18702

    Problem: "about:Tabs" page has lost all of its functionality.
    History: New problem (in last week). This page did display okay before.
    Have not been watchful to notice when this page became
    incomplete.

    I set IE8 to use "about:Tabs" as its home page. I wanted it to display
    the recovery options that are present in that page so, for example, I
    could elect to reload the last set of tabs when IE8 first loads. The
    "about:Tabs" page will no longer display its useful content. Only a
    portion of the web page gets painted but none of the recovery features,
    like opening the last set of tabs. An error occurs when loading the
    page saying:

    Webpage error details
    Message: Element not found.

    Line: 144
    Char: 1
    Code: 0
    URI: res://ieframe.dll/tabswelcome.htm

    Line 144 has:

    <body id="newTabPage" onload="window.external.BuildNewTabPage();
    contentContainer.style.display='block';">

    So when the page loads (its body), the onload event is triggered and the
    BuildNewTabPage() method gets called. The about:Tabs page should look
    similar to the image below:

    http://origin.arstechnica.com/news.media/ie8-about-tabs1.png
    or
    http://apcmag.com/images/03NewTabs.jpg
    or
    http://registry.cesabarre.com/Tweak...lorer/Set the Default New Tab Page/error1.gif

    Alas, all that gets painted is the "What do you want to do next?" line,
    a blank section, and a horizontal rule underneath which is a link to
    "Learn more about ..." (which is a link to that same web page).

    I already tried resetting IE8 (advanced options) and running it in no
    add-ons mode. No luck. Rebooting into Windows' Safe Mode didn't help.

    Since the resource (tabswelcome.htm web page) appears to come from
    ieframe.dll, I looked around to see where it was. It is under
    C:\Windows\System32. There are copies of this file elsewhere but are
    for older versions, like under C:\Windows\IE8 (maybe that's used when
    uninstalling IE8 and going back to the prior version of IE). I looked
    in the registry to see how this DLL file was registered. That is, I
    checked to see what path was listed for any "server" registry entry that
    points at where to find the ieframe.dll file. All of them have the
    C:\Windows\System32 path so that's the copy that should get used in any
    reference to this DLL that doesn't include a path to it. The version of
    ieframe.dll in C:\Windows\System32 is 8.00.60012.18777 and is 11,064,832
    bytes in size.

    I even ran "sfc /scannow" but the same version of ieframe.dll was left
    in C:\Windows\System32. But then I rather expected that result since
    this was the same version under the DLLCACHE folder from where the
    backup copies are retrieved by the System File Checker utility.

    When I try to re-register the DLL file via:

    cd \winodws\system32
    regsvr32 ieframe.dll

    it errors with:

    RegSvr32
    DllRegisterServer in ieframe.dll failed.
    Return code was: 0x80004001

    DllRegister is an exported method of the DLL to define how to register
    that library in the registry (i.e., it's an entry point in the DLL that
    runs code to define how it gets registered). I tried de-registering it
    (to then re-register it) but also get the same error. I even booted
    into Window's Safe Mode but could not register it. I have a virtual
    machine with a clean install of Windows XP Pro SP-3 + Windows updates
    (except for IE8 so IE7 still runs in that VM). I still could not
    register ieframe.dll inside the test VM so I'm wondering what happens in
    all those articles when users try to follow the advice to re-register
    this DLL. It fails when I try to re-register it; however, registration
    often involves adding definitions in the registry of where to find the
    DLL (and perhaps define some functions for particular calls to it) and
    my registry entries (that have paths specified to the ieframe.dll) all
    point to the one located in C:\Windows\System32.

    I found in the registry where these About URLs are defined (about:home,
    about:Tabs, etc) and the definitions there look good:

    Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AboutURLs
    Data items (and their values):
    "NavigationFailure"="res://ieframe.dll/navcancl.htm"
    "DesktopItemNavigationFailure"="res://ieframe.dll/navcancl.htm"
    "NavigationCanceled"="res://ieframe.dll/navcancl.htm"
    "OfflineInformation"="res://ieframe.dll/offcancl.htm"
    "Home"=dword:0000010e
    "blank"="res://mshtml.dll/blank.htm"
    "PostNotCached"="res://ieframe.dll/repost.htm"
    "NoAdd-ons"="res://ieframe.dll/noaddon.htm"
    "NoAdd-onsInfo"="res://ieframe.dll/noaddoninfo.htm"
    "SecurityRisk"="res://ieframe.dll/securityatrisk.htm"
    "Tabs"="res://ieframe.dll/tabswelcome.htm"
    "InPrivate"="res://ieframe.dll/inprivate.htm"

    From searches, it appears the Tabs data item is correctly defined (as
    opposed to malware that attempts to usurp these pages). I entered
    "res://ieframe.dll/<page>.htm" in the Address Bar to test each of these
    and all of them worked except for tabswelcome.htm which had the script
    error reporting a missing element (which I'm guessing is the
    BuildNewTabPage() method from some NewTabPageScripts.js script file).

    I don't know how to dig into a DLL to determine where it defines these
    resources and what are their values (i.e., what should be their HTML
    content). However, when I view the source for the about:Tabs page
    display, nothing strikes me as missing. It appears that Javascript is
    used to dynamically build the page. Line 144 (where the error is
    reported) runs the window.external.BuildNewTabPage() method for the
    onload event (when the page loads). I'm not sure where this function is
    defined except that maybe it is in the .js Javascript file defined in
    the <HEAD> section, as in:

    <script src="NewTabPageScripts.js" ...>

    Presumably this is yet another resource within ieframe.dll because I
    cannot find this .js file anywhere on my drive. My guess is that the
    BuildNetTabPage() method is used to dynamically construct all the
    content on the about:Tabs page between the "What do you want to do
    next?" line to the horizontal rule and "Learn more ..." lines. To make
    sure scripting was enabled, I used web sites that test Javascript, like
    http://www2.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html, and they
    passed. So it's not that scripting was somehow disabled in IE8.

    I did poke around inside of the ieframe.dll.mui file (also under
    C:\Windows\System32) and did find the HTML code for the TabsWelcome.htm
    web page in there; however, the NewTabPageScripts.js script file where
    this function is probably defined was not found in this .mui file. I
    went searching through the contents of files for "NewTabPageScripts.js"
    but got no hits.

    I ran out of ideas of where to dig next in trying to fix the about:tabs
    page other than to try System Restore, seeing if IE8 will re-install
    atop of itself (and possibly step atop of whatever is ailing it now), or
    to walk back through incremental image backups to see when the problem
    disappears. I could switch to using about:blank as the home page but
    I'd like to get back the functionality of the about:tabs page (and also
    because that is the page displayed when a new tab is opened).
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 22, 2009
    #1
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  2. VanguardLH

    rob^_^ Guest

    Hi,

    window.external.BuildNewTabPage()

    Is an external function. Check your versions of IExplore.exe and IEUser.dll
    in the Internet Explorer folder.

    Possibly have you been running another MSIE browser like Maxthon? or

    Do you have v6 of the Google toolbar installed and have not disabled/enabled
    all of its components (toolbar and bho components?)

    Regards.
     
    rob^_^, Jul 22, 2009
    #2
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  3. Perhaps you re-registered shdocvw.dll's DllInstall recently? <eg>

    Ramesh has the answer...

    http://www.microsoft.com/communitie...d8efee1f1420&lang=en&cr=us&sloc=en-us&m=1&p=1

    (BING search for
    ramesh shdocvw "about:tabs"
    )


    Also, I think that Kai's latest version of his repair tool incorporates
    that fix...

    http://iefaq.info/index.php?action=artikel&cat=35&id=133&artlang=en


    ....

    Unfortunately it appears we were misinformed about what REIS does.
    Apparently it does not have the same effect as the old /ierereg was
    supposed to provide (which Kai's cmd file now does.)

    BTW one of Ramesh pages describes the diagnosis steps he used.

    I wasn't sure if this problem was fixed in IE8 or not. It looks as if
    your example is showing that it wasn't.


    FYI

    Robert
    ---
     
    Robert Aldwinckle, Jul 22, 2009
    #3
  4. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    Thanks for that info. This should get archived in Google Groups so if I
    hit the problem again then I can see if re-registering shdocvw.dll or
    using the fix tool solves the problem.

    My Google searches were fruitless. I did the search for +"about:tabs"
    along with other terms but I wasn't finding any helpful articles.
    However, I never did a search where I included shdocvw.dll.

    I finally exhausted my patience with trying to dig into this problem
    that I decided to use the brute force method of restoring from image
    backups to find the latest one where the about:tabs page was working.
    See my other post (where I reply to myself as an update).

    Thanks for your help.
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 23, 2009
    #4
  5. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    Well, I gave up trying to resolve the problem. I suppose that I could
    have tried reinstalling IE8 to see if it would have stepped atop
    whatever was the problem but I decided to instead restore using backup
    images.

    I tried using System Restore. There were over a dozen in the last 10
    days (more going back further) but they didn't help. Once I go to going
    back 10 days, I decided that the restored settings & files would start
    to get too much out of sync with my software installs and system and app
    tweaks. So I went to restoring from my backup images.

    I do full image backups every Monday and incremental image backups every
    day (obviously the incremental done just after the full on Monday won't
    have much in it). I have Acronis TrueImage and it works very nicely.
    The backups are saved in a hidden partition on a 2nd hard disk. I had
    some guesses of what might've caused the problem, like when I installed
    the Google Toolbar or the IEPro add-on but going back before those
    installs did not find an image without an incomplete about:tabs page.
    I'd go back to each full backup and check if the about:tabs page was
    okay. That took me all the way back to June 29. I tried to jump to
    that week's Friday incremental but that didn't work. In all, I had to
    test 11 restores from backup images to reinstate the OS partition before
    I found out that June 29's image was okay but June 30's image had the
    bad about:tabs page.

    There's no convenient differencing tool in TrueImage to see what folders
    or files changed between the full backup on June 29 and the incremental
    backup on June 30. Even if there was, the problem could be in registry
    settings or within some files and I wasn't going to to a difference on
    all those files (that were different between those 2 backups) even if
    TrueImage provided such a tool.

    So I restored back to the June 29 full image backup and got back a
    usable about:tabs page. I then restored my data files, like the .pst
    for Outlook and the data subfolder for Dialog, from Monday's full
    backup. I then had to uninstall programs that I had previously
    uninstalled June 29 and installed the other ones (except I don't want
    the Google stuff) along with doing the Windows updates available since
    that date. I do an incremental backup, do a few of these changes, and
    retest that the about:tabs page still works.

    Sure glad I do daily image backups. See my other reply (to myself to
    provide an update post).
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 23, 2009
    #5
  6. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    iexplore.exe
    Version = 8.00.6001.18702 (mentioned below)
    This is the version listed both in the Help->About menu and also when I
    right-click on the C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe file
    to look at its Properties under the Version tab and select Product
    Version.

    ieuser.dll
    Version =
    Nope, never. Don't like those wrapper apps.
    That's what I thought might be the cause. I did install the latest
    Google Toolbar and was using that. However, when I reverted to a backup
    image of before when I installed the Google Toolbar (and even before the
    earlier install of Google Chrome the day before), the problem remained.
    In fact, resolving the problem had be restoring to a backup image that
    was over a week before I installed anything Google.

    Thanks for responding. If you look in my other post, I eventually gave
    up on trying to resolve the problem and instead went through many
    restores of backup images of the OS partition until I got to one where
    the about:tabs page would work. I've looked at the folder and files
    listing for that day's image backup (where about:tabs works) and the
    next day's image (where about:tabs is incomplete) but couldn't see
    anything obvious as to what changed from one day to the next.

    Thanks for trying. Thankfully I do full image backups every Monday and
    incremental image backups every other day so I can walk back through the
    images to find one before the problem appeared.
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 23, 2009
    #6
  7. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    Forgot to come back to this to enter the data. I did a file search
    while typing in the rest. No such file was found on my host.
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 23, 2009
    #7
  8. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Guest

    Ignore that part. Was supposed to go in a different reply.
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 23, 2009
    #8
  9. VanguardLH

    Cybot Guest

    I'm having same issue too, but found something weird Try this "interesting"
    trick i discovered ad see if it works for you.

    After clicking "new tab" button goto tools button and select "developers
    console (or just hit F12)

    select script tab and select "start debugginng"
    after the error is encountered hit the continue script button. on mine the
    missing page features then appeared.
     
    Cybot, Oct 25, 2009
    #9
  10. VanguardLH

    rob^_^ Guest

    Hi,

    And in no-Addons Mode? Are you seeing addon artifacts?

    Hint - the Google toolbar v6 has a proprietary toolbar:newtab protocol.

    Regards.
     
    rob^_^, Oct 25, 2009
    #10
  11. VanguardLH

    squall Guest

    Hi all,
    I've been experiencing the same problem for a few days now..

    In Internet Explorer 8, I open a new tab which normally shows me the
    "What do you want to do next" page.. but I'm getting nothing but the
    title "What do you want to..." and everything else (e.g recent tabs
    etc.) is missing except the footer "Learn more" which is also broken
    (not going anywhere).

    I'm not having any luck finding help on this, I've tried an IE Reset,
    tried re-registering dll's, and using the ie8-rereg tool. None of these
    have worked so far.

    Skipping over the error with the IE developer tool works so at least
    that shows that the content is still there, just not working correctly.

    I haven't installed anything new or updated anything recently, and I've
    never used the Google Toolbar.

    Does anyone have any idea's as to why this has happened all of a
    sudden?

    Thanks
     
    squall, Jan 29, 2010
    #11
  12. VanguardLH

    Don Varnau Guest

    Don Varnau, Jan 30, 2010
    #12
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