On XP Home Edition SP3, beginning last week I have not been able to get the Windows Update page to load. There is no error message, IE8 seems to think the page loads and there is code, but a blank white page displays in IE8. I discovered this problem after finding that Windows Media Player would not start -- again with no error message. Watching on the Task Manager, the wmplayer.exe process runs for a few seconds, then disappears.
I've run a number of malware scans using Avira Free edition (now uninstalled), Spybot S&D, MalwareBytes Antimalware, Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials with no results or change.
I have reset IE8 to its default settings, and now find that I can't choose a search provider or display certain other pages on the Microsoft support site, such as http://support.microsoft.com/oas/default.aspx?gprid=assistance -- it displays only the top banner over a blank page. (I'm posting this using Chrome.)
Other forum postings regarding either Update or Media Player not starting seem to be on other versions of Windows, and I haven't found anything regarding problems with both.
Has anyone else encountered this sort of problem?