Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta Crashes When Loading ActiveX Controls


When running Internet Explorer 8.0 beta 2 on Windows XP it might crash with a “memory cannot be read” error whenever it tries to load or install an ActiveX control.

Problem Details:

When browsing any page that uses any ActiveX control, it will crash the browser.  If the control is already installed the browser will crash when loading the object (if you have approved it to run on all sites) or else when IE displays the information bar (yellow band) to confirm running the control on the current site. If the control isn’t installed or is older, it crashes the browser when the information bar is displayed for the ActiveX installation. Either way any site with ActiveX content crashes the browser.

The application error is always “The memory cannot be read”. Clicking OK will close the browser. If you re-launch IE and choose to resume the previous session it’ll crash again.


This problem is solved by disabling the Data Execution Prevention (DEP) feature.  DEP prevents memory areas which contain data from being executed as code by the processor. The ActiveX parser does not seem to be working properly when this is on.

To disable the DEP option:

1. Open the Internet Options control panel or else use Tools->Internet Options from inside Internet Explorer.

2. Select the “Advanced” tab on the top right of the window.

3. Scroll through the options list and look for “Enable memory protection to help mitigate online attacks*” in the “Security” category (close to the bottom of the list).

4. Make sure the option is unchecked and click OK to apply the setting. You’ll have to close any open IE windows and re-launch the browser for the change to take effect.


There is a good blog post by Eric Lawrence of the IE8 team which gives more detail about the issue. Although the post states only some incompatible add-ons cause problems, every XP machine I’ve seen with the feature enabled crashes with all add-ons.

It may work fine on other XP configurations however. If you aren’t affected by the issue above you’ll probably want to keep it enabled, as it is a good security feature! Vista is also not affected by the issue.


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