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Default homepage started loading as http://web.(etc) instead of "www.(etc), giving an error. What happened? Setting homepage with the bookmark in the toolbar works.

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Running Windows XP with multiple user logins, Firefox 6.2. My wife had set a certain website as her startup homepage, and it worked fine til a few days ago when it started putting http://web.(etc) in the address bar instead of "www.(etc). She also had a Bookmarks Toolbar bookmark pointing to the same page, which worked fine. I double-checked the properties of the Bookmarks Toolbar address and the homepage address in Tools, and even copy-pasted over them from the address bar, with no change in behaviour. Whether starting FF from the desktop shortcut or clicking the home button after startup, the address loaded wrong. I was able to workaround by setting the homepage with the toolbar bookmark, but why?