Windows 11 update is crashing Start Menu, Taskbar, Explorer and more

Windows 11’s latest preview release appears to be causing a whole host of serious problems for several users, including unresponsive Start Menu, Taskbar, Explorer.exe, Windows Settings, and other critical bits of the operating system seemingly disappearing or broken.

This is happening to those who have installed Windows 11 Build 22000.176 or Build 22449, which are the latest round of preview updates for Beta and Dev channel respectively. There is a range of different issues reported by testers on the Feedback Hub and our forum, but it appears that the tech giant has rolled out a server-side fix.

At the moment, it’s not clear how widespread these Start Menu and taskbar gremlins in the operating system might be. In some cases, users are reporting that the Taskbar and Start menu are totally blank, and an hourglass is displayed when users move the cursor closer to the taskbar.

“I have rebooted repeatedly but continue to have this problem. I need to know how to access Start, so I can go into settings to access Recovery to Go Back. But Start is not displayed in the Taskbar,” one user wrote in the Feedback Hub.

“In the new version, after startup, the taskbar disappears. After restart, the machine runs slowly and the taskbar is stuck. Repeated restarts are still invalid, any software can not be operated, and some shortcut keys are invalid,” another user noted.

How to fix Start Menu, Taskbar, Explorer.exe crashes in Windows 11

If your Explorer.exe, Taskbar, Start Menu, Settings and other areas of Windows 11 wouldn’t load, use these steps:

  • Open Task Manager using the traditional shortcut (CTRL+Alt+Del).
  • In Task Manager, make sure the “More details” option is activated.
  • Click on “File”.
  • Select “Run new task”.
  • Type “cmd” in the “Open” field.
  • In Command Prompt, copy and paste the following command:
    reg delete HKCUSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionIrisService /f && shutdown -r -t 0
  • Press enter.

Your desktop will now reboot and the taskbar/Start menu will appear again.

As we mentioned at the outset, Windows 11 testers have reported loading issues with Start Menu and Taskbar in both channels – Dev and Beta. The bug appears to be hitting devices that have received a server-side patch from Microsoft and it can be fixed if you follow the above steps correctly.

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