Has anyone seen this behavior?

I apologize if this is in the wrong place, but it's a bit of a strange situation.

My boss was complaining that his computer was "sick" so I asked him to bring it in and I'd look at it.  I am no technology ninja like many of you, but I know my way around.

All of his desktop shortcuts had become generic shortcut icons which toild me the file they pointed at wasn't where it was supposed to be.

I opened up My Computer and double clicked his C drive.  He's running Windows XP Home version.  The windows folder was all but empty.  It included a temp folder and the helpfile for winzip.  HOWEVER!  There was a WINNT folder present, and it appeared to me that all of his XP files had somehow gotten into there.

I was pretty sure there wasn't a virus pulling a stunt like that, but I'd like a confirmation.  My guess is one of his kids got into the machine and messed things up, but if there's a virus or some other oddity out there that any of you know about that causes this behavior, it's worth the 500 pts.

Thanks for your help.

Go Red Sox.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Hello JohnGalt2004 =)

If a system has been upgraded from Win2000 to XP then system will have a C:\Winnt folder instead of a C:\Windows folder !!
so is it the case with this system ??
>> All of his desktop shortcuts had become generic shortcut icons which toild me the file they pointed at wasn't where it was supposed to be.

seems to be the problem of not opening .exe files... can u try what is suggested here ??

Cannot run EXE files [Programs don't open]

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
JohnGalt2004Author Commented:
Thanks for the quick reply, Sheharyaar.  I will find out about the first thing you mentioned and check for the cannot run exe file problem.  That IS one of the things he mentioned.

I'll be back tomorrow evening with a report.
How do you know if your security is working?

Protecting your business doesn’t have to mean sifting through endless alerts and notifications. With WatchGuard Total Security Suite, you can feel confident that your business is secure, meaning you can get back to the things that have been sitting on your to-do list.

sure... good luck :)
JohnGalt2004Author Commented:
Just for anyone else that happens to see it, it turns out that while it wasn't exactly the broken .exe thing, it was similar, and the link in the accepted answer led me to that similar solution.

Apparently there are a whole wealth of invasive scripts and whatnot that can strip away the default behavior of many common file types.  Commonly affected are exe, com, lnk (this was my case), zip, etc...

Thanks Sheharyaar.
yeah that link must be this one >> http://www.dougknox.com/xp/file_assoc.htm
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
OS Security

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.