Try starting in safe mode; click here . (Without internet connection) and running full scans of whatever security programs your friend has. It could be some malware. Some PCs need F5 to start safe mode.
My friend has now installed Internet explorer 8 and things are working again. Thanks for the suggestions. I will see my friend on Sunday and will sugggest that we run some security scans as you suggest in case there is some malware present.
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