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Automation server can't create object
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"Automation server can't create object" and other VS 2002/2003 Start Page Problems, Issues, and Bugs.

Yes, I was one of the testers for the Start Page in Visual Studio 2002 and 2003.  There are a LOT of good reasons we are scrapping it and starting over with a new Start Page for VS 2005. Our redesign certainly takes into account the comments left here and countless other places we've looked for feedback.  You'll see a renewed focus on simplicity and the main purpose of launching your recent projects.  But this post isn't meant to be about the new start page.  This is a brain dump of the known problems I've seen with the existing start page and how you can potentially solve them. 

The "Automation Sever Can't Create Object" error message.

There may be a problem with the installed version of the Windows Scripting component. See KB323885.

Sometimes there are problems with different versions of MSXML being registered on the machine.  The VS.NET start page uses the msxml3 object to render content in the start page.  There have been a few known issues where installs of different versions (there are a few!) of the msxml object will stomp on the previously installed versions (link).  Here is how I have fixed it on some machines:

  1. Bring up a command prompt (cmd.exe)
  2. in the command prompt “cd c:\windows\system32” (no quotes)
  3. Then “xmlinst –u”
  4. “regsvr32 msxml3.dll”
  5. Close cmd prompt

Sometimes this is caused by aggressive anti-virus software that blocks the scripting components from launching.  I talk about this extensively here.

"You must be connected to the internet to use this feature."

The new start page will simply be polling it's online content from RSS feeds, but the old page polls a more proprietary XML standard down from MSDN servers to populate with content. The start page simply does a transform of the XML into the standard it prefers.  We connect to this XML by using the

Try clearing your internet cache.

Try changing your selected help filter and re-loading the page. 

Verify, with your internet connection you can connect to this page and see the XML there. (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vsdata/vsdata.asp?tab=vs_online_community) If you can't, then there is an issue with your internet connect or firewall/proxy settings. 

We use the "Microsoft.XMLHTTP" object to connect to and pull down this content. There are some issues with some versions of this object that cause it not to work properly through a proxy.  You can see if you have this problem by downloading this file (www.winisp.net/scooblog/ietest.zip), extracting the results and opening the "test.htm" file.  (You'll have to enable script in the security settings for XP SP2 as it kindly blocks the test for you.) If the results look like the "good.txt" you don't have this problem. If they look like the "bad.txt" you have this problem. The problem is actually with the XMLHTTP object and, as far as I know, the IE team does not yet have a QFE or fix for this.  Hey, check out the developer centers if you want good content. :-)

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