OK, thanks for that useful information.
Slowly, slowly, al the peices are fitting into place.
Thanks for your help everyone.
try this also,
in the IE Tools->Options->advanced
uncheck "use java 2v1.XXXX for
and under Microsoft VM
1.java console enabled
2.java logging enabled
3.JIT compiler for virtual machine
play around with these IE settings and see whether it helps you..possibly this will avoid IE crashing
A good way to find older java versions is to head on over to java.sun.com and in the search field type in the version you want (1.4.2_06 or whatever) followed by the work "archive". First hit is usually an archives page with all the major revision and all the minor revisions for it.
Also, if you use firefox, there's a reg-key out there that enables you to use the 1.4.2 java client.. Just use the reg-hack and install java and you'll be good to go (mostly..).
Your best bet is to just stick to the one version of java.. If not there's a way to force which version the plug-in is using within the java-plugin in the control panel.
I look forward to the day when my concerns are about network management and not java revisions on my management PCs :)