Windows 11 does not start anymore? UI customizations may be the reason
Microsoft confirmed a new Windows 11 issue that may affect devices with user interface customization applications. According to Microsoft's post on an official support website, Windows 11 devices may not start up anymore if certain UI customization apps are installed.
The issue affects devices running Windows 11 version 22H2 that run the preview update KB5022913 or newer cumulative updates. Microsoft released KB5022913 yesterday, and with it the second feature drop for Windows 11. The update introduced the AI-powered Bing on Windows, but it also brought along a number of other features, including several application updates, Phone Link improvements, touch and Braille improvements, and more.
Microsoft explains that third-party customization apps may "cause errors with explorer.exe that might repeat multiple times in a loop". The company mentions the two programs StartAllBack and ExplorerPatcher specifically, but there is a chance that other user interface customization tools may also cause the issue.
Microsoft recommends that Windows 11 administrators remove the two mentioned apps, any others, from the device before installing the latest cumulative update for the operating system. For users who are already affected by the issue, Microsoft recommends contacting the developer of the application that is installed for help.
StartAllBack users may be able to resolve the issue by installing the latest version, StartAllBack 3.5.6 or later.
Microsoft notes that it is investigating the issue currently and that it plans to provide more information on the issue once it is available.
User customization apps
StartAllBack is a popular customization app for Windows that may modify the appearance of the taskbar, File Explorer, Start Menu and other interface elements. The latest version available is 3.6.1 at the time of writing. Windows 11 users are encouraged to update the application to the latest version, as it may prevent the Windows 11 startup issue.
ExplorerPatcher is an open source tool that is offering different taskbar designs and other interface customizations. The application was last updated in November 2022. We reviewed Explorer Patch last year here on Ghacks.
KB5022913 is a preview update for Windows 11. It should be considered a beta release, and its contents will be included in the March 2023 cumulative update. The March update will include security fixes as well, but all the feature changes and bug fixes introduced in the preview update are also included.
It is unclear if Microsoft will have addressed the issue before the next cumulative update for Windows 11 is released on March 14, 2023. Administrators who run customization apps may want to create system backups of the Windows installation before the updates are downloaded and installed on the devices.
Customization apps may use undocumented or unsupported methods, e.g., methods that Microsoft no longer maintains, but has not yet removed from the operating system.
Now You: do you run interface modification apps?
I had a Windows 11 Dev Build VM fail to start (black screen issue) after using Explorer Patcher a few months ago, and had to reset the OS.
+10, same here months ago. However the culprit is Microsoft due to its way of doing things, providing us with the worst taskbar ever and some other UI annoyances that have made W11 the worst friendly OS of MS’s history.
This update broke the taskbar using Start11, just visual glitches no functionality issues. Thanks Microsoft, it’s not like you SUCK or anything.
Trying to make Windows perform ‘as it used to’ will always end in tears. 3rd party programmers tinker inserting things that modify system function. When Microsoft programmers alter Windows code, eventually there will be a clash. IT IS NOT Microsoft’s fault if that happens.
Microsoft is solely to blame for this. They don’t first offer customization options the customer wants. Everyone must put up with an OS that is only barely functional. Since a year and a half ago, we have been requesting these features to be added. They keep ignoring us, therefore we have to use third-party software to correct Microsoft’s poor judgment.
The customizations are tweaks that change appearance. They are not essential for your computer to run the programs you want. No matter what Microsoft does, people will complain. “I want square corners on Windows”; “I want thick borders”; “I want Start at the top right hand side”; “I want…”. Every customization is a code overhead that increases the complexity of Windows, as 3rd party developers discovered. Sure they can fix it but it inconveniences THEIR users.
Nobody forces anybody to move to Windows 11. Market uptake would be a major guide for Microsoft. If people didn’t leap to take up the latest version, perhaps Microsoft would start to question their moves. Meanwhile, they take what guidance they can out of the insiders program. I suspect insiders are more concerned with function over form, as am I.
Microsoft know very well that MILLIONS are using the two mentioned programs and could easily have tested this update with those programs and iron out any issues. But being the complete turds that Microsoft are, they chose not to and knowingly, ON PURPOSE, broke all those computers and conveniently blamed the programs in advance. Super-dick move once again.
“No matter what Microsoft does, people will complain” stupidity – the OS used to be quite customisable, people are just asking for that to be made possible again.
Do you know how much customisation there used to be in the Win7/8 days for the OS? People made their Windows literally not look like Windows anymore, and it still all worked. Microsoft is coding it in such an obtuse fragile way on purpose. On Windows 10 I can’t even change the system font globally anymore without losing the “:” colon in the time/date in the bottom left hand corner – this stuff is incompetence, or on purpose, but either way it’s Microsoft’s fault, because it didn’t used to be like this.
“The customizations are tweaks that change appearance. They are not essential for your computer to run the programs you want” shut up, what a soy opinion.
You nailed it. I am a practical person by nature. Function over form every time. For what I do, I need Windows as a tool, not a toy.
If you aren’t happy with the Windows product and don’t actually have practical applications that rely on Windows, maybe it is time to consider the alternatives. Would a Chromebook do what you need? Probably not is my guess. Maybe there’s a Linux distro out there.
After this update, I have seen a new Bing icon at Windows Search in the taskbar of my sister’s computer. I thought it was the new Bing Chatbot, however it doesn’t. Now the Windows Search icon is larger than before and certainly annoying for the wasted space, it seems at least 50% larger imho. No seconds in taskbar yet neither. Such a creepy feeling of going to nowhere with W11.
What a garbage product
“KB5022913 is a preview update for Windows 11. It should be considered a beta release, and its contents will be included in the March 2023 cumulative update.” I installed KB5022913 2023-20-28 and am happy with it. While I agree with the words in quotes, it unfortunately installs when you manually use Windows Update to check for updates. It is NOT offered as an optional update.
First, Windows 10 should revert to being supported and updated along the same time frame as, say, Windows 7. W11 is a steaming pile of manure. Also its as if it’s an ongoing psych experiment to see how much misery a user can tolerate.
Also, stop using the term “drop” and in “feature drop”. This isn’t a new song or video. “Feature update” is accurate and doesn’t induce “not cool dad” cringe.
@45, completely agree, no more words needed because it’s the whole truth.
These UI customization programs wouldn’t be necessary if Microsoft hadn’t released a shoddy operating system. Unfortunately, Microsoft employs some of the least qualified workers who have ever worked there. There is no longer anyone intelligent.
Nearly two years later, none of the beloved features have surfaced. So, we have to use these programs to customize the UI and take the risk of them breaking. Always, they are resolved within a few hours or days. The developer of StartAllBack provides fixes fairly quickly.
Nothing wrong with Windows 11; for me, it’s been infinitely more stable than any other release.
How many times have I mentioned that many, if not all, third party programs used to tweak Windows may, inadvertently, result in complete disaster. It includes the registry tweaks provided on gHacks.
Why? Because those who are coding at MS assume certain functions are still present as original. Changes made to the system by third party programs don’t reflect a problem with the original OS; it reflects the nature of programming.
No developer has the time to second guess what modifications third party programs make to the original code; thus, when a new line of code is introduced as an MS update, it’s introduced based on what MS has provided earlier, not on a system that has been tweaked to death by five or more different programs.
Stardock–responsible company. They’ve already addressed the Start11 issue with an update.
Recommendation: Pause updates for at least a couple of weeks. And then some.
And people still don’t know how to show seconds in the taskbar. OMG!
Would make a good article for one of the newbie writers.
Stardock have NOT adressed the issue with a Start11 update. I’m on version 1.39.1 and no new update available. Feels GREAT having spent money on this software to realize their problemfixing skills are sloooooooow. It’s been two days, time is money, get to goddamn WORK Stardock people! You’re starting to look very bad.
@Grrrr . . . the update should be automatic–right after boot. Or, last night after reading the article in the afternoon, an update prompt appeared for Start11. I was a bit surprised, but also thankful the Stardock team apparently addressed the issue almost immediately.
As far as I know, Explorer Patcher and StartAllBack will update at some unknown time in the future. They may wait for MS to “fix” the problem instead.
“Stardock have NOT adressed the issue with a Start11 update. ”
@Grrrrrrrrr – they did so with a newly released 1.4 beta:
Yeah, that doesn’t help. I want a patched stable release and I want it yesterday.
No idea what you’ve been smoking, but it clearly messes with your head. Like I said, there’s NO updated patched version offered. If you also think that “automatic update” and a manual search for updates are two different things, don’t quit your dayjob. Idiot.
Luckily I had one version 3.5.7 of StartAllBack when I checked so no problems occurred for me. I did update to 3.6.1 to be on the safer side.
Even Gnome team was forced to keep supporting extensions. If Windows 11 team continue being on the track of “my-way is the only highway” motto, it will only be successful in repealing users towards macOS.
While the UI of macOS is less customizable compared to Windows 7-10, it is still more customizable than Windows 11 and it is not a forever-beta product.