Windows XP - missing icons - everything is .lnk files

Switched on PC and desktop started up very quickly. The system tray is empty - so it looks like nothing auto loaded. Additionally all my desktop icons are .lnk files with the default dummy icon.

When I look in Start->All Programs the same thing - everything is .lnk files. And worse still - My computer is the same.

It would appear as best I can tell that XP has "forgotten" that a .exe is an application. My computer shows .dll files correctly as Application extension but .exe as simply "exe". As such I cant run any apps

I have Norton IS 2006 running with AV (or did!), but is this a virus/spyware or simply an XP screw up? Can I recover this? (I have tried a reboot but that didnt help!)
hughmAsked:
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hughmAuthor Commented:
These may work, however my problem is that I simply cant run anything, because windows appears not to recognise any .exe files as being executable. I havent as yet tried Windows Safe mode to see if that is OK - if I it is, and i run this product, do you know if it will correct user accounts?
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nobusCommented:
i guess so, but never tried it. Always worth to try in safe mode.
you can also run an sfc /scannow from the run box there
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MereteCommented:
Hi hughm
Any other details you may have missed sharing?
sudden changes don't just happen to this extent.. could point to spyware or some sinister malware.
But sounds like you have been tinkering in the regestry or moving system files stuff??

Its just as easy to really check this first if there is any present no sence in trying to fix it.
download  and  run hyjackthis  from here http://www.hijackthis.de/ 
run the scan and paste there as well. Hit analyze below that panel then right at the bottom of your analyzed log hit save it. If you could copy that url back here, but have a look first and see if it finds anything first.
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hughmAuthor Commented:
my thoughts too but nothing that I am aware of. However it was fine when I switched off the day before, and Norton/Adaware never reported anything amiss. I will check it out when I get home tonight. Interestingly file type connections work. So trying to start word via msword.exe fails. But clicking on a .doc works OK.
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nobusCommented:
did it work in safe mode?
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hughmAuthor Commented:
sorry - i am at work so dont have access at the moment but will post as soon as I can get home to try stuff.
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Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
This post here details the same issue that you have, also referring to Nobus's Kelly's Korner link, but has some explanation that may be helpful.

http://computing.net/windowsxp/wwwboard/forum/132017.html
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hughmAuthor Commented:
Many thanks to everyone, the two .reg files have resolved the issue with the .exe and .lnk files.

But.....

Firstly I have now run a full virus scan and also adaware - these came up clean. But when I run IE6 - the homepage keeps resetting to www.msn.com as soon as i close IE6. I have seen peopl e*want* msn and get a hijack site but this seems different.

Secondly I seem to be short some icons in system tray - even though they are running. For example my wireless card used to show an icon (with connection strength) but this has disappeared. It is working fine though.
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MereteCommented:
I dont think its a problem just go to the site you wish to have as your home page and make it so.
Could be a setting when you installed msn and missed it.
I sometimes get windows upadtes and even msn too. If you cant change the home page then yes it could be a hijack.

run the disc cleanup utility at start all programs accessories system tools.

IE tool tips there is also a select tool tips for IE
http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/ietips.htm
http://www.onecomputerguy.com/ie_tips.htm
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MereteCommented:
For example my wireless card used to show an icon (with connection strength) but this has disappeared. It is working fine though. << go to your network connections and r/click the wireless and tick to show icon or notify you of the connection
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hughmAuthor Commented:
The ie homepage was Norton again - it was resetting it despite being marked to warn me. I switched the protect off, changed it and turned it back on. So that one is fixed . Wireless card I also tried - - it already had it marked as show connectinon in system tray.
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MereteCommented:
okay, do you have any other connections in the local area network? How are you connecting to the internet? On a Lan?
To enable the wireless connection, first disable the LAN connection; reboot with the wireless adapter enabled
 Your router might issue IP addresses to both wireless and ethernet  but to get started it's best not to confuse the issue
 You can use either the XP wireless wiz or the wireless adapter management software, but not both.
This assumes that the router is already configured for wireless, that there aren't any MAC address filters running, etc.

 have a browse maybe these can provide some clues to the icon missing, is it hidden?
Wireless Networking Made Simple
http://support.mi.ras.ru/wireless/english/
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/expert/bowman_02december16.mspx

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