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Help File: Adobe Flash and 64-Bit Internet Explorer; Safe Java Updates

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, September 27, 2009

QMy Toshiba laptop only seems to run a 64-bit version of Internet Explorer -- and Adobe's Flash Player won't work there. How do I get a 32-bit browser? When will Adobe ship a 64-bit Flash plug-in?

AWindows Vista includes 32- and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer, but that second edition should normally stay hidden in the Start menu's "All Programs" list. If you run it, as this reader discovered, the Flash plug-in (http://adobe.com/flashplayer) that plays videos and animations at many sites won't work.

It's unlikely but not impossible for IE's normal 32-bit edition to stop working, leaving only its 64-bit incarnation available. In that case -- as with most mysterious IE malfunctions--the simplest fix is to switch to a competing browser. Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome all run well in Vista and only ship in 32-bit editions.

As for Flash, Adobe plans to ship 64-bit versions of its next major release but warns that they won't necessarily run any faster. Don't expect great things from a 64-bit browser either: A primary benefit of 64-bit computing, working with very large files, doesn't help Web browsing much.

I'm getting a prompt to upgrade my Java. How do I know that's safe and not some scareware?

Java is a legitimate program from Sun Microsystems that runs interactive content in some Web pages. Its "update now" prompt is a small icon in the Windows taskbar, not a huge Upgrade Now!! alert. If you're in any doubt, you can download a fresh copy of Sun's software at http://java.com.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.

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