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IE's support for mailto: links needs work

Pet peeve time.

I don't have my mail client associated with mailto: links in Internet Explorer, because the last thing I want is for random web pages or anything that might want to mail something to know what my real email client is. Not to mention that such links are out-of-style anyway in web pages due to spam concerns. Which is why I have been annoyed, since at least as far back as Windows 98, at IE's behavior when this is the case. Basically, whenever I launch a mailto: link:

start mailto:x

It causes Internet Explorer to display a dialog saying that "Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed"... and then it proceeds to open about a hundred cascaded IE windows which all have the mailto link in the Address field and which all say "No page to display; Action Canceled." This seems to happen whenever a ShellExecute() call is made on an email link, whether it be from IE itself, Firefox's Send Page context menu item, or even the lowly start command. And then I have to wait for a hundred windows to open — which thankfully doesn't take nearly as long on today's computers as it did five years ago — and then hold down Alt+F4 until they all go away.

Now, I'm a programmer, and I know of all sorts of very strange bugs with very strange causes. However, I can't think of a cause for this one. Did someone decide that trying to launch a shell link 100 times was the way to go?

for(int i=0; i<100; ++i) {
    if (SUCCEEDED(Launch(pszLinkToLaunch)))

What the heck does the IE-integrated shell do that is so stupid as to launch a zillion windows on failure?


This blog was originally open for comments when this entry was first posted, but was later closed and then removed due to spam and after a migration away from the original blog software. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot of work to reformat the comments to republish them. The author thanks everyone who posted comments and added to the discussion.