I ran into a strange problem recently. Every now & then while working on my Windows XP SP2 laptop, I noticed that the active window would lose focus for 3-5 seconds. This was very annoying as while typing I would miss a few words.
Since this started happening very recently, I prepared a list of things that I had done recently. Even tried un-doing a few things, but nothing really worked. Today I happen to discover the source of the problem. At work, for a different reason I increased the frequency of automatic send/receive in my Outlook. I noticed with this; the problem started appearing more frequently. As a matter of fact, it happened every time Outlook did a send/receive. This was a good break-through. I tried un-doing a few things that I had done recently in Outlook settings. For example removed a few recently added rules; disabled send/receive groups and used “All Accounts” group instead. However still nothing worked. I tried searching google and found somebody else had the same problem, but the suggested solution on the forums required messing around with the registry & I wasn’t comfortable with the reasoning provided either so didn’t really try them out.
The next good thing that just happened was that in one of those 3-5 seconds I pressed ALT-TAB & noticed a new window in the preview which shouldn’t have been there. I could identify the logo was for Airtel; my new Internet Service Provider (I had recently shifted from BSNL to Airtel). Along with the router, Airtel guys had installed this program called Airtel NetXpert 2.0 on my machine which I thought was a single point of resolution for all my Airtel related problems (So far I really haven’t got a chance to look at what it really does so not sure if I’m correct here). Next I tried killing this program, which was quietly running in the background but accessible through Notification Area (where you see your clock) & VOILA my problem got resolved.
I guess this NetXpert program is monitoring outgoing & perhaps incoming traffic from my machine (even if I’m not on Airtel network). So when Outlook tries to connect to my mail server somehow this program gets activated which for some reason tries to steal focus from the current window. Though this is just a vague guess theory & there are still a quite few open ends here, but I guess I’ll leave this here.
If you faced this problem too, do let me know by adding a comment here.