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.
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