Unable to Start a Program with an .exe File Extension

Symptom

When you try to launch an application (.exe files), the following error message appears and the program does not run.

Cause

This problem occurs if the .exe file association in the registry is corrupt. This behavior is generally caused by viruses; one of which is SirCam virus, which modifies the .exe file association in registry.

Resolution
Method 1: Fixing the association settings automatically

Download exefix_xp.com utility and save to Desktop. Double-click the file to run it. This utility fixes the exefile association in the registry automatically.

Additional tip: To run the utility silently (without any prompts), use the -silent parameter. Open a Command window (Command.com) and type:

C:\Utilities\exefix_xp.com -silent

Assuming that the exefix_xp.com is placed in the C:\Utilities directory.

Method 2: Fixing the association settings using Registry editor
  • Click Start, Run and type Command
  • Type the following commands one by one:

cd\windows
regedit

  • If Registry Editor opens successfully, then navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ exefile \ shell \ open \ command

  • Double-click the (Default) value in the right pane
  • Delete the current value data, and then type:

"%1" %*
(ie., quote-percent-one-quote-space-percent-asterisk.)

  • Navigate to:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe

  • In the right-pane, set (default) to exefile
  • Exit the Registry Editor.

If you’re unable to launch Regedit.exe even from Command Prompt, try this:

copy regedit.exe regedit.com
regedit.com

Source: http://windowsxp.mvps.org/exefile.htm

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