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Running Windows XP? Can't see any panoramas on the pano pages?
Don't worry - help is just a download away

If you choose a panorama from the menu but nothing appears in the top half of the panorama page, it's probably because your web browser doesn't support Java. If you're running Windows XP, that's quite likely. You can fix this with a one-off download which will make your computer able to support Java programs from many different websites.

The tech stuff.
Paul's panoramas are displayed by a Java applet (a small program) that runs inside your web browser. In order to run, Java applets need some extra software - a 'java virtual machine', or 'VM' - to be installed on your computer. This is similar to the browser plugins which support Flash animations and PDF document viewing, which you may already have installed.

Earlier versions of Windows contained a Java VM as standard, but then Microsoft got into a legal battle with the inventors of Java, Sun Microsystems. As a result Windows XP doesn't come with a Java VM.

The answer.
The answer is to download a Java VM for Windows direct from Sun Microsystems. It's free, about 5MBytes in size, and installs automatically.

To get this download, click here and follow the 'Download Now' instructions.

Note - Sun calls its Java VM the 'Java Runtime Environment' (JRE), but it's the same thing. Watch out for the pre-checked 'Install Google Toolbar' option during the installation process - uncheck this if you don't want Google's toobar added to your browser.

After you've installed installed the Sun VM, it's best to restart Windows.

Making your browser support Java.
Your browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox or whatever) may have Java support switched off, in which case it won't run Java applets even after you've installed Sun's VM.

To switch Java support on:

In Internet Explorer choose Tools..Internet Options, then choose the Advanced tab, and scroll down to the Java (Sun) entry, and check Use Java for <applet>.

In FireFox choose Tools...Options, then click Web Features in the left-hand panel, and check Enable Java.

If you're using another browser,  see the supplier's support site for details of how to enable Java.

When your browser is running Sun's Java VM, you'll see this icon in your Windows Taskbar.

What else will this Java software do for me?
With Sun's JRE installed you'll be able to run any Java applet, not just the Panorama viewers.

Java provides a way of adding powerful software to a web page. It's safe to run, because java applets are prevented from messing with your hard disk and other parts of your computer. There are (literally) millions of applets out there, on thousands of websites, from games to - well, mainly other games, plus utilities such as the panorama viewers used on this site (see for lots of java applets you can try). Java is also the language used to program the more sophisticated games on mobile phones.


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Images and code Paul Stephens 2006