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IE.au3 functions not working with WIn7 IE 8 simple form

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I enabled protected modem for all zones and also tried default security settings in IE8 but still does't work. I made a simple web form html file on my desktop which is loaded by AutoIt script using _IECreate which loads but populating the form does not work. I can't figure out why?  Works in IE11, Works in XP IE8 but not in Win7 IE8 which is what I need.  Erroe code is 3

#include <IE.au3>
#include <MsgBoxConstants.au3>
#include <Inet.au3>

;Global $oIE = _IECreate($mip & "/notes/test/feat_admin_config.html", 0 ,1, 1)   ;for work need to test
;Global $oIE = _IECreate("formtest.html", 0 ,1, 1)   ;for work need to test
$POD = "test"
Global $oIE = _IECreate(@ScriptDir & "\formtest.html", 0, 1, 1)   ;for work
;Global $oIE = _IECreate(@ScriptDir, 0 1, 1)   ;for work

Local $user = _IEGetObjByName($oIE, "firstname")
Local $pass = _IEGetObjByName($oIE, "lastname")
Local $button = _IEGetObjById ($oIE, "start")  

_IEFormElementSetValue ($user, "mso")
_IEFormElementSetValue ($pass, $POD)
If @error Then
    MsgBox(0, "", "Error in function SignIn at line 279...Error code: " & @error & "Exiting...")
;~      ;msgbox(0,'','POD: ' & $user & ' is ' & $POD, 2)
;_IEAction ($button, "click")
;_IELinkClickByText($oIE, "Admin")

Here is my html form called formtest.html located on my desktop:

First name: <input type="text" name="firstname"><br>
Last name: <input type="text" name="lastname">
<input type="submit" value="Submit">


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Protected mode seems to be the cause of the problem. If I disable protected mode (Internet zone) only in IE8 on Win7 platform the script works for the most part. XP IE8 doesn't have this problem.

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