I've been getting that "Java Runtime Environment cannot be loaded" error and that "Several Java Virtual Machines running" error ever since I did those MS patch updates that came out recently.
I don't know if the two are related yet, because I've just started troubleshooting it.
I have Java 6 Upgrade 7. I DO NOT have any previous Java versions on my machine, so I'm a little confused about the "Several Java Virtual Machines running" error because that usually indicates a previous version is on the machine and is "fighting" for control. I'm pretty religious about getting rid of previous versions.
There was a bug reported in July of 2007 that was in version 1.6.0 build b105 that produced the "Java Runtime Environment cannot be loaded" error, but that's long since been remedied by Sun, and besides I never had that error with version 6 Upgrade 2.
I've uninstalled Java 6 Upgrade 7 several times, and the last one I did was with Revo to dig out the registry remnants (there were 1662 of them!!! Sheeesh!!). Before I dug out those registry remnants, I was first getting the "Several Java Virtual Machines running" error and then after OK (which was the only option), I'd get the "Java Runtime Environment cannot be loaded" error. But after I dug out the registry remnants with Revo, and reinstalled of course, I just got the "Java Runtime Environment cannot be loaded" error . . . I don't know if that's a clue though. There may have been registry remnants left behind by previous versions when I did the incomplete Control Panel Removal before I got Revo.
I also deleted the Java cache folder in C:\Documents and Settings\<my user name>\Application Data\Sun\Java, but still no joy.
My next step is going to be to remove those confounded MS Updates one at a time and see if that does it. But this troubleshooting is very tedious since each time I have to remove those 1662 Registry entries that Revo finds and Java leaves, and then download (with my slow dial up) and reinstall Java. With six or seven MS patches to try it's going to take a while. The real pisser in that is going to be if none of it does it after all that work.
Being without Java has really not impeded my surfing habits all that much. I can still visit my forums and send and receive emails and download and upload stuff. I get the warnings when I go to sites like Secunia and try to do their online scan for the updates I have on my machine. Bothersome, but not a deal breaker . . . yet anyway. And I'm not sure that the loss of an Active X heavy piece of software is all that bad. Still, I'd like to have it working for the occasional site that uses it.