By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 4, 2010; 5:19 PM
Q: My computer won't boot after installing AVG's anti-virus update.
A: A program meant to protect Windows, the free AVG anti-virus program, became a menace in its own right a few days ago.
An update posted Thursday can prevent some computers running the 64-bit version of Windows 7-by now, the standard on new PCs-from booting up normally.
(One reader reported that this problem happened on a 64-bit Windows Vista system.)
The error message you'd see in that case reads: "STOP: c0000135 The program can't start because %hs is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem."
The firm acknowledged the problem in a posting on its tech-support site. It initially suggested booting Windows into its Safe Mode, then using its System Restore function to take the computer back to a "restore point" before Thursday and then reinstalling AVG.
The company later added a note ( www.free.avg.com/ww-en/faq?num=4080 ) with links to download a recovery tool that can run off a USB flash drive.
This kind of meltdown happens too often (meaning, at all) with Windows anti-virus software. For example, in April, McAfee had to apologize after a botched update left some XP machines unable to boot.
Q: I need to watch a Windows Media Webcast on my Mac. What software will allow that?
A: Not many sites still require Microsoft's video format these days. For those that do, Microsoft offers a free "Windows Media Components for QuickTime" plug-in (http://wapo.st/glPB73). The free, open-source VLC media player (videolan.org/vlc) could be another option.