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by jbcouk / February 17, 2009 5:51 PM PST

The only way I can get started is Control/Alt/Delete, which raises Task Manager, then enter URL for Internet Explorer (.exe) to get into the internet, then either hit the Read Mail button to get Outlook Express, or enter the Outlook Express URL into Task Manager.

Can't access C-drive at all. Haven't tried A or D drives yet

How do I get the Start Menu and Desktop up?

This machine (No. 3) is a Compaq Deskpro, which I was given, but minus an operating system. Didn't use it for a couple of years, then my main machine (No. 1) lost its hard disc and OS, and despite expenditure on recovery, it went again. Can't trust it any more.

Took the OEM XP OS disc for No. 1, put it on No. 3, and activated it thru Microsoft (no problems). Took all updates from Windows Update (nearly two hours), loaded antivirus software.

When I start up No. 3 machine (i.e. this one I am using now) it goes through the usual motions, and first I get the 'Bliss' wallpaper, then I get a completely blank screen with green wallpaper but nothing on it whatsoever except my mouse pointer, which activates nothing because there is nothing there to activate. No desktop, no task bar, no menu button.

So all this machine is good for at present is Internet and Email. I suppose I should be grateful that the machine cost me nothing in the first place, but that is not the main emotion I am feeling.

Can anybody solve this problem, please?


P.S. - Back to dead Machine No. 1, loaded Linux with CD Rom, which works OK for internet and mail, but can't be installed 'cos there's no C-drive to take it. Nevertheless have used it via disk several times because it's VERY FAST. [Machine No. 2 is my old Windows '98 model, still chugging along when required].

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Since you did not state
by lacsr / February 17, 2009 7:42 PM PST

In your explanation of events, I do not see where you installed any drivers on the No.3 machine. Good starting point would be to look in "Device Manager" to see if there is a problem that could be solved there. What make model is No.1? Normally OEM XP does not work on a different machine. Is No.1 also a HP or Compaq?

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by jbcouk / February 17, 2009 11:58 PM PST

If I knew what a driver was I might have installed one. Please know that I am your archetypal play-it-by-ear amateur without an ounce of training to my name. I will look in Device Manager if I can find it in or from Task Mananger.

No 1 was a custom-built tower unit that a local guy built for me four years ago, and I had just over three years of wonderful trouble-free daily use from it, until mid-2008. Then he put in a new motherboard, P6NGM by MSI. A few months down the line and it suddenly went haywire. He took it back and restored it almost immediately, and demonstrated it to me. 24 hours later the C-drive disappeared (allegedly) and then XP wouldn't boot at all. I lost faith in the whole contraption. No more money in that direction, because I couldn't trust it any more.

All good fun. JB

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First steps
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 17, 2009 7:48 PM PST

The Desktop, the Taskbar, and Start buttons are all generated by the process explorer.exe. Don't confuse this with Internet Explorer's iexplore.exe.

Open the Task Manager, and go to File > New Task (Run..), and type in explorer.exe and click OK.

Does the Desktop and Taskbar and all the icons appear?

If so, open Internet Explorer, goto Tools, and disable all Add-ons, all ActiveX, and all 3rd party toolbars.

Now, download, install, open and update MalwareBytes AnttiMalware, (MBAM), from

Do not open it again to perform a scan yet. Instead, reboot into Safe Mode, instructions here, and run the MBAM full scan from there.

If any of these steps fail, tell us what error messages you get.


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by jbcouk / February 18, 2009 1:53 AM PST
In reply to: First steps

You said:-

"Open the Task Manager, and go to File > New Task (Run..), and type in explorer.exe and click OK. Does the Desktop and Taskbar and all the icons appear?"

No they don't. The message reads (something like) 'Cannot find explorer.exe. Please check that you have spelled it correctly and try again.'

IE and OE open when prefaced with C:\Program Files\etc. etc., so I tried several permutations of that sort of run-up, but still could not get through.


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I that case,
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 18, 2009 7:12 AM PST
In reply to: NO START MENU

alternative First steps, Happy

In my other post I gave a link about Safe Mode.

Can you try that, and see if the system will boot into Safe Mode, and if so, does the Desktop and Taskbar appear? The video will be VGA default, meaning black, larger and blockier. But that is normal for this mode.


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In that case
by jbcouk / February 18, 2009 7:15 PM PST
In reply to: I that case,

10.41 GMT I've just rebooted into Safe Mode using the F8 Method as described on Bleeping Computer.

What I am now faced with is a black screen with 'Safe Mode' stated in each of the four corners; plus a top line which says: "Microsoft (R) Windows XP (R)(Build 2600.xpsp_sp3_gdr.080814-1236:Service Pack 3).

There is no start bar and no icon. The mouse pointer roams freely but activates nothing. I will now attempt Control/Alt/Delete and see if Task Manager comes up.

10.49 GMT Task Manager appears. Played about with Task Manager for a bit, but found nothing different from when I had it up before in normal mode. So, I'm back where I started.

1052 GMT Came out of Task Manager, then went back in. Decided to enter Shut Down, and then clicked Restart. All went as expected (presumably now in normal mode) and I am back with my blank green screen.

1102 GMT Hit Control/Alt/Delete, and up came Task Manager. I'm right back where I started.

If C:(then a back slash - there doesn't seem to be one on this keyboard)Program Files, Internet Explorer, IEXPLORER.EXE gets me into IE, then it seems to me that C-drive is accessible provided we have the full URL. So what is the proper, full URL for Windows Explorer?


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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 18, 2009 7:48 PM PST
In reply to: In that case

If explorer.exe cannot be found in the Task Manager > File > New Task option then it looks like it isn't there. That's strange if IE works, because IE is so closely integrated into the operating system and into Explorer now, that I would not have expected IE to work either.

You 'can' use IE like Windows Explorer, (the file manager), but I am not sure it will work. Try this.

In the IE address bar, type in C:\Program files , and press Enter. A Window Explorer window should open listing the folders and files in the Program files folder. If you don't get a Windows Explorer window then the test fails there.

If you do, then scroll down to Microsoft Office, (assuming Office was installed), navigate to the Office10 folder, then look for Winword.exe. Double click that to see of Word opens. If you don't have Microsoft Office, then try another program folder with a program name.exe file and see if the application opens.

I have to ask, has this Windows install ever worked on this machine? If not, then I tend to go with what lacsr said in the first reply to you. OEM disks will normally not work on computers other than the ones they were originally intended for, and even if you were able to successfully install from that disk, then possibly there are a number of drivers missing from the install.

Those missing drivers are gong to cause you a problem. On OEM systems drivers would come on a separate CD, but in recent years manufacturers who supplied OEM systems only provide a hidden recovery partition on the hard disk, and not provide CD's at all.

If this installation has never worked, then I feel you will have to reconsider your position and look at purchasing a retail XP CD.


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no taskbar or shortcuts
by 665522 / December 9, 2010 7:35 AM PST
In reply to: First steps

did first part disabled all add-on. everything came back. do i need do the rest? if so i do not no where to go to desable 3rd part taskbars. will wait till get response b4 continuing. use windows xp will send more system info if problem continues.

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this may be a silly suggestion...
by bunniegirl / February 19, 2009 9:23 AM PST

I may be missing something...I don't understand how you can get on the internet and use email...when you don't have windows to navigate.

Somethng similar happened to me...(excluding the ability to get on the internet) when mating an old pc to a new monitor.

The cluprit in my case- was the moniter settings were set too high...and all the windows buttons were out of reach/out of view on the desktop. I know that is so elementary and simple...could that be your issue?

FACT: you are getting windows to respond when you press ctrl alt delete...which MEANS you do have windows. It is simply out of view?

Can you use the monitor adjustment tools and make the desk top very small? Do you see anything there when you do that? Are you monitor setting drivers installed correctly?

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by jbcouk / February 19, 2009 5:56 PM PST

Actually, I did think of that myself, way back in this problem - so I raised up the resolution settings somehow (I'll have to figure out again how I did it) and what I discovered was that there were only two settings available, and I was already on 800 x 600, whereas I wanted 1024 x 768. But it wouldn't go there.
I'll have another go later on.

I've certainly got Windows, no doubt about that. In fact, in between postings I have been experimenting with the Browse facility available in Task Manager to establish more URLs that respond. As a result I now have a long down-arrow menu of about twenty or so applications that I can now get access to. I can get into Paint, Wordpad, Notepad, IE 6, IE 7, OE 5, OE 6, and many others.

Of course, I found Windows Explorer thru the browsing facility - and guess what happened when I used that URL to access it? I got no response at all, not even a failure dialogue box. Just nothing. I tried three times.

This makes me feel that the other posters are on the right track - namely that what I have got on this Deskpro by loading an OEM XP Home previously on another machine (mine: I paid for it), activating it automatically via MS, and updating it via MS, is in fact a restricted version of XP Home. Still better that a sterile machine with no OS at all. But nevertheless it's worth pursuing the task bar, start menu and desktop until the bitter end.

But if I don't get them, it's still a good deal for me. I get to have three functioning machines. My previous 2GB No.1 running Linux: I now use Firefox on it every day, purely for the speed. Then this Deskpro for email and other useful and familiar Windows applications. Then the old '98 machine, which carries most of my historic data (i.e. the hard drive hasn't gone on that one yet).

And that's only me. I haven't told you about my wife's machines in the next room. Nor will I. I wouldn't want to bore you.

As you may have guessed, we are both retired. JB

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Glad you kindly
by bunniegirl / February 19, 2009 10:59 PM PST

I worried about getting lambasted all night. Here this little Know nothing comes in to this detailed high tech conversation and singlehandedly insults everyone! takes a witless perspective-you can count on me.

I think we are on to something...800 x 600 IS HUGE. BIG. AS IN REALLY BIG. I think your icons are just way outta reach! Can some techy step in an confirm that?

Ok JB, You wondered how you found your settings...This is what I think you used your mouse and right clicked on the desktop. The task box pops up..and you clicked on properties...then you have all your moniter settings there. IF you had your start button on the desktop you could go to accessories and find better choices...but that isn't an option in your you can't reach your start button.

But what I was hoping you would try the external settings on your physical monitor. The little arrows or buttons on the case of your monitor itself. If you can realign the image and make it teeny you may get a view of the elusive icons. (sneaky little lepre-cons)

Have you tried using another monitor? Say one of those from your Wifes room?

Hope the techy guys will step in here and aid me in this thought...but if your monitor is will only have the capibility to be one size with your newer computer until you change the settings. But your problem is everything is outta reach because your settings are so low.

You could wait for rain...and hope a rainbow would make those green guys come out...but I think I would try the moniter settings first.

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Er, no Dearie.
by jbcouk / February 20, 2009 2:03 AM PST

1740 hours GMT: I'll do everything you suggest - in the morning when I'm as fresh as an old daisy. But I can tell you now - it aint gonna work. I've just pressed the buttons on my (old) monitor, and it does not have a resolution facility; and I would have been very surprised if it did. The rest will be tomorrow.

I run three CRT monitors in my room, with another four spare ones under the table. Yes - FOUR. Some kind company gave me seven monitors when they upgraded to flat screens. And I'm the kind of guy that finds it very hard to say no to a gift. Particularly when the first monitor I ever had caught fire (with real glowing bits and lots of acrid smoke) within two weeks of purchase new. Dare I say it? Part of a total PC package from Fujitsu-Sei(ie)mens. Replaced instantly and without questions, of course, but it left its mark on my psyche about monitors. And I had another one go a few years later.

When my wife and I rationalised our computer logistics a few months ago, she took my flat screen into her room. Just like that! If a guy values his dinner being cooked for him every night then he has to watch his reactions. "Yes dear, you can have it - you deserve it." I know what I'm doing. She's been cooking me dinner for forty-five years. She can have whatever she likes, as long as they keep coming.

What's this gotta do with start menus?


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Yep, I can see that.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 20, 2009 3:51 AM PST
In reply to: Er, no Dearie.

When she says, "This one is mine", who are we to argue?

Your screen resolution problem is going to be video drivers I believe, or lack of them. And that, of course, harks back to the installation of this Windows XP from just one disk, without any separate drivers CD.

But I think the problem is deeper here. From my own, (limited), experience, it is strange that you can get IE and Outlook to work without Explorer, (which includes the Desktop and everything else), and I feel the problem is using that OEM disk on a computer system it isn't designed for.

You could hunt down the drivers for this machine off the internet with your IE, but I am not even sure how that would work. You need an inventory of your hardware and that means downloading and installing something like Belarc Advisor, and running that, but as you cannot navigate around your system, I am unsure how you can download and save, install, then run. If you can do that, then you can use that to find drivers for all your hardware. It might work, but it will be hard work I fear, with no guarantee of success.


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Be thanlful for small mercies
by jbcouk / February 20, 2009 3:44 PM PST

Bunniegirl (You weren't really one, were you?)

You wrote: "settings...This is what I think you used your mouse and right clicked on the desktop. The task box pops up..and you clicked on properties...then you have all your moniter settings there. IF you had your start button on the desktop you could go to accessories and find better choices...but that isn't an option in your you can't reach your start button."

I have just got my Task Manager box on screen and I can't find any way to access 'Properties'. Right clicking takes me nowhere, and all the tabs and arisings from them do not yield Properties. But I'm still experimenting elsewhere, via other things I can get from TMgr.

7.25 GMT: I've got no further. I'm beginning to think my amnesia is the problem. Maybe it was the Linux on the other machine where I couldn't get away from 800 x 600.

This can't go on forever. Perhaps I should settle for what I've got. Or buy a fully reconditioned base unit from my man in Wimbledon, for a trifling 65 quid (100 bucks), which comes with XP and other software goodies all rolled in. See:

Yeah, I think I'll do that. Next week, maybe.


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no start menu, no desktop
by livingwellmagazine / February 26, 2009 9:01 AM PST

having the same problem, explorer.exe can be found, although I can see it in the C:\windows\ all the files, explorer.exe, explorer.ex_ explorere.scf, it will not launch.

I tried to use the Xp recvery console, and delete and recopy, but that does not work,
I really do not want to have to reinstall XP pro, but.. I was thinking even though SP3 is already installed, can I download and try to reinstall, would it put back the file..
I have been using the Task manager, all week,and it seems all of the other programs work..
Please Help!

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by jbcouk / February 26, 2009 2:10 PM PST

I wish I could help you more, but I've exhausted all my ideas now. When I use this particular machine (about half my total computer time) I just suffer with Task Manager. I'm simply hoping that one day the C-drive on my main machine (i.e. the original OEM PC) will kick back in, and XP Home will be available again on the genuine PC. I haven't yet bought a refurbished machine because I've been too preoccupied this last week getting another car (Dodge Neon), but I can see it happening. In a month or two this machine will hit the dump and the problem will be history. JB

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found a cure!!!!
by livingwellmagazine / February 26, 2009 9:04 PM PST
In reply to: IF ONLY

Hi, found a cure, and it works! After I finished and restarted I created a restore point.. just in case.. Good Luck!
Here's how to fix this issue:

1. CTRL-Alt-Del to bring up Task Manager.
2. Click File | New Task(run).
3. Type regedit in the Run box and click OK.
4. Browse to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution.options

5. Under this key there will be subkeys named explorer.exe and iexplorer.exe. Delete the explorer and iexplorer keys entirely. They should not be listed under the Image File Execution.Options key.
6. Close the Registry Editor.
7. Restart the computer.

Assuming no other viruses / adware / spyware / malware are interfering, the Windows desktop should load fine now.

Thanks to Aur computer service.
Originally post by 2/9/06: SmitRem

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No, Sir!
by jbcouk / February 27, 2009 2:09 PM PST

Nice try, but the message I got back was "Windows cannot find 'regedit'. Make sure you typed the name properly.....etc.....etc". JB

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by livingwellmagazine / February 28, 2009 9:58 AM PST
In reply to: No, Sir!

From the task manager create a new task, type in regedit, Make sure you are signed in as administrator, perhaps you can't get there without being the admin,

The registry, basically is what the computer is running on, If you do not have it, then you are more screwed than you know

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by jbcouk / March 1, 2009 4:53 PM PST
In reply to: regedit

All's well that ends well. I am happy to report success (of a sort). Having exhausted all original thought and suggestions for fixing the problem, I re-installed XP Home with my OEM disk, chucking out all partitions and the previous malfunctioning system, and starting with a clean C-drive again. And whaddya know? It all went fine and was re-installed in an hour and a half - complete with proper Start button and Menu. All now working normally.

During set-up I noticed an activity being performed called "Installing Start menu items". I didn't take my eyes off it until it was done. JB

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