Executing files from HTML pages

It's a good idea to use a local HTML page as a shortcut to all your Internet links. You can also use it as a desktop, with links to programs. There are many who feel the Internet browser can effectively replace your operating system - one of the reasons Microsoft has been so active in its attempts to conquer the Internet market. However, there's a catch.

You can create a link to an executable with a syntax that works on both Navigator and IE:

Paint Shop ProIn Internet Explorer you can use a more traditional DOS path:

Paint Shop ProWhen you click on the link, this launches the application, but only after you have confirmed that's want you want to do. Typically, IE first displays a dialogue box giving you a choice of Run this program from its current location or Save this program to disk. This takes a couple of mouse clicks.

If you choose to run the program, you may encounter another dialogue box that asks if you want to install and run the executable, and complaining that it cannot find an authenticode signature. This takes another mouse click.

This is annoying, but the aim is to protect you from clicking on a Web link and accidentally launching executables on your system - an excellent way to catch a nasty virus.

There may be a way around this, but I have not heard about it. I'd welcome any suggestions from readers. This limitation means that a browser makes a rather inconvenient desktop.

One possible workaround - Internet Explorer 4 is well integrated with Windows Explorer, and you can make good use of this feature. Place a link in your HTML startup page like this:

Start menuNow you can reach all the programs accessible from the Start menu by clicking on this link in the browser window. If you drag an application icon to the Start menu, a Shortcut is automatically created there. It's not the same as launching the application with a single click from your HTML startup page, but it's close.

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Neale Morison

PC World
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