We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

We've partnered with Certified Experts, Carl Webster and Richard Faulkner, to bring you a podcast all about Citrix Workspace, moving to the cloud, and analytics & intelligence. Episode 2 coming soon!Listen Now


Win2k: Windows Explorer will not come up; there are no desktop icons or task bar.

ChrisEddy asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-13

I am working on a Windows 2000 computer which will not launch the Windows Explorer.  It will boot (win2k splash screen is displayed, background transitions to the user background) but is not displaying the task bar at the bottom of the screen, or icons on the desktop.  The ony way to run programs is to press control-alt-delete, and then navigate a command prompt-like window to where the thing to run is, then run it.

Note that this is true whether the machine is booted regular or into safe mode.

Using msconfig, I have disabled the automatic launching of user processes and services, and the symptom persists.

Running hijackthis, several infections were found and removed, but the symptom persists.

I have manually navigated to and launched the windows explore, but this produces no result.

The customer reports that this occurred about 1 week ago, and relates the onset of this problem to the application of a Windows update at about that time.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring back "life" to the running of the Windows Explorer, or to at least study the problem better?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Watch Question

Technical Consultant
This may not be tha answer you were after, but I had this exact problem on my XP machine about a month ago.  Whatever I tried I couldn't get explorer to load, if I tried starting it through the task manager I saw the process start then immediatelty shut down.  I had no spyware infections or viruses.  I tried sfc, repair mode install and even copying explorer.exe from my service pack files whilst in the recovery console - nothing fixed it.  In the end I had to do a complete re-install of windows!  This may be your best bet, I performed a ghost image of the partition before reinstalling though so I could get my old files off.

Not the solution you were looking for? Getting a personalized solution is easy.

Ask the Experts



I have returned to the site, and have the following to report.

Following your recommendation, I reinstalled IE6.  This completed uneventfully.  The machine was rebooted, and as it was coming up this next time, the task bar and icons are now being displayed - which is good.  However, clicking on the Start button will result in it remaining visually clicked-in and does not click back out.  Double-clicking on any of the desktop icons does not launch anything.

I ran Win2kSP4, which failed.  It reported that the installation of the SP was not complete and that Windows might not run right, and to keep a system recovery disk handy (in case you don't have your feathers numbers, for just such an emergency).

Manually launching the add-remove programs control panel reports a scripting error in a file which doesn't look like it's resident on this computer.  Here's a transcript of the error message:
Internet Explorer Script Error
An error has occurred in the script on this page.
Line: 21
Char: 1
Error: Object doesn't support this property or method
Code: 0
Url: res://sp3res.dll/default.hta

Clicking Yes, to continue running scripts on this page produces this error:
Add/Remove Programs
An unexpected error occurred
Object doesn't support this property or method
Line: 21

Then the Add/Remove Programs window is displayed, but without any applications in the list.

I have run a scan for adware and spyware and found a few minor infections and removed them.  

My current thinking iis to do an in-place reinstallation of the operating system.  However, I'm not 100% certain that a) this will work (whatever is causing this funky behavior within the Windows Explorer needs to go away, but may not), and b) whether the installation will be accepted or declined (if a later SP has been applied, the install will be declined).  I'm not a slipstreaming maven, so I'm not sure what I'd have to do dto a Win2k installation disk sin order to posess and automatically apply the update set.

Your thoughts?

With the Start button staying clicked in, and no response to double clicked icons, it sounds like your CPU maybe overworked.  Look at your processor utilization to see if it is maxed.  If so, then you have the next step to the solution.

Good Luck



I apologize for not reporting status sooner ...

The solution chosen was to do an inplace reinstallation of the operating system.  Since the customer did not have the original operating system disk, a new Win2K disk + key was ordered.  After arrival, the inplace reinstallation completed uneventfully, except at the end when the activation code was requested, and the customers' original one was supplied but declined.  The solution was to supply the one which came with the OS CD.  

The computer is currently up and running well.  Applications launch unremarkably, and overall system stability is good.

Thank you again for your assistance.

Access more of Experts Exchange with a free account
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Create a free account to continue.

Limited access with a free account allows you to:

  • View three pieces of content (articles, solutions, posts, and videos)
  • Ask the experts questions (counted toward content limit)
  • Customize your dashboard and profile

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.