If you are using XP with SP2, see the following two articles:http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=883090
While the second article applies to problems open specific texts, the illustrated steps for the second solution might be easier to follow:http://www.helpline4it.com/lab_practices-d350.htmlNote well: both of these solutions require a registry edit. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make a copy of the registry before making any changes, since a mistake in editing the registry can seriously effect your operating system!
There are several small applications that can take the place of MS Wordpad, and would presumably not have this problem. One of the most recommended is Jarte (with the bonus that you would have a spell-checker in the bargain):http://www.jarte.com/
AF's recommendation of OpenOffice.org is a very good one, especially if you are need an office suite.