Critical Error – Start Menu Not Working

For the past month (March 8 to April 6, 2016), my sole Windows 10 laptop has been experiencing a strange problem. Every time I clicked on the Windows logo “new start menu,” I received the following error message.

Critical error - start menu not working

Of course, you can’t close this message. Clicking “Sign out now” is pointless as the problem remains when you sign back in. So, I just moved the message out of the way and continued using the computer.

One of the reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 from the disaster known as Windows 8.1 was the return of the start menu; so I found this a bit frustrating. I do know enough about computers that I can function just fine without the start menu. That being said, I thought I would share my experiences as I debugged the problem.

Like any good sleuth, the first thing I did was open a search engine and start looking for tips on how others solved this issue. Turns out there are a lot of frustrated people out there. Here are some of the things I attempted (with the results). These are based on numerous searches (as time permitted) over the past month. I would try one or two things, watch them fail and then move on to more pressing things (like meaningful work). When a spare moment arose, I would try something else. I realize now I should have kept better notes.

  • Run the Windows PowerShell command (as an administrator) to re-register the start menu. For those who are curious, here is the code snippet – Get-appxpackage -all *shellexperience* -packagetype bundle |% {add-appxpackage -register -disabledevelopmentmode ($_.installlocation + “\appxmetadata\appxbundlemanifest.xml”)}. This is courtesy of KapilSparks website. One then reboots one’s computer and … experiences the same error message – Critical error – Your Start menu isn’t working…
  • Create a separate local account and try that. Yep, you guessed it – same result. Critical error – Your Start menu isn’t working…
  • Restore your system to a previous restore point. Done and … Critical error – Your Start menu isn’t working…
  • I also tried a number of other recommendations I encountered. You guessed it – Critical error – Your Start menu isn’t working…

I was getting to the point where I was seriously thinking about reinstalling the OS (well, repairing it and leaving my personal files alone). However, that might have introduced other issues so I continued to look for other possible solutions.

Today, I just happened to have a little available time and did yet another search. This time, I found a site which recommended one uninstall the DropBox app. Ok, what do I have to lose. Right click Windows icon > Programs and Features > Uninstall DropBox. Done and done. Then rebooted (just for good measure).

Lo and behold, I now see (yes, I truncated it a bit):

Start Menu Returned

Ok. I am impressed. Windows 10 is supposed to be a very secure and robust operating system. Yet, a rogue app (with some bug) is able to disable the start menu.

Of course, it was not just the Start Menu which was affected. The Edge browser was completely unavailable. All items in the task bar were not accessible. The system tray items could not be right clicked upon. Windows Explorer would not properly display a list of the folders in the Documents folder. One had to click on the little > symbol to navigate.

My point is there were a host of problems (all from this one problem application). Just how secure is this operating system?

I don’t have Dropbox as an application, but that is ok. I can still access all the files via a web browser (and even upload/ download them as needed). Of course, I also have OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, and a host of similar apps running on my Windows 10 laptop. I wonder if any of those will cause similar problems in the future.

As you can tell, I am not very enamored with Windows 10 these days. In fact, it is likely the last Windows operating system I will ever own. Macs and Linux from here forward.

I am curious if you have encountered similar problems with Windows 10. I am curious as to your thoughts on this topic as well. I look forward to your comments.


5 thoughts on “Critical Error – Start Menu Not Working”

  1. Typically this is caused by bad programming habits in apps. Since they now have the tiles in the start menu programmers should have adjusted their code for it. I had a similar issue at one point with greenshot application but the issue was developer had not update program code.

    Unfortunately this is an issue that has plagued all operating systems for years. I wish the solution was simple.

  2. I do understand. However, there has been so much marketing about how “secure” this OS is. That is my main point.
    Best always,

  3. Beautiful finding!
    I encountered the same phenomenon and uninstalled Dropbox per your suggestion; The error message went away!

    I would not have thought about the Dropbox application without your article. Many thanks!

    Linux will likely be my choice of operating systems from now on…

  4. A thousand thanks!
    Uninstalling Dropbox did the trick for me too.
    Didn’t even need to reboot after uninstalling.

    What’s more, my OneDrive had stopped syncing and upon clicking the icon complained about “no application associated” with it or somesuch.
    That problem vanished as well with Dropbox.

    Windows works in mysterious ways, as they say.

  5. Hello Mark

    I tried all the things in your post but I had the same critical error again and again.
    I had disregarded the ‘uninstalling dropbox’ advice when i’d read before but tried it this time. Again ‘critical error ‘
    I then uninstalled the ActivInspire software by promethean and bingo, i regained my start menu ! Windows 10 definitely works in mysterious ways.

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