Problem with Windows Start Menu

Katherine C 1 Reputation point


I have been chasing down an intermittent but persistent issue where the start menu process (startmenuexperiencehost.exe) not launching at startup. On computers affected by this issue, the start menu is visible but non-functional. The start menu process isn't running in taskmgr. Attempting to launch the process manually (either with a powershell command or by navigating to the process in windows explorer) fails.

I have read through this forum and seen where Microsoft has recommended performing repair installs on PCs with this problem. However this agency's PC fleet is over 1000 machines strong with with at least 25% affected across a wide geographic area. That's a conservative estimate. Bottom line is that repair installs are an option of last resort.

I come here for assistance with finding the root cause of the problem.


At this time I would say that at least 25% of the agency's computers are impacted by this issue. Some are brand new and/or newly imaged. Others have been on the network for years. Most of my machines are on OS build 2009 and up.

Three months ago we created a new, up to date, image to deploy on our PCs. PCs with this image are as affected as the PCs with the old image.

All computers are fully up-to-date (drivers and patches) when they are deployed to users.

These are networked PCs.

We do use active directory. We do not use azure.


Affected PCs show the following message in the event viewer:

Unable to start a DCOM Server: Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_10.0.19041.1023_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy!App as Unavailable/Unavailable. The error:
Happened while starting this command:
"C:\windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy\StartMenuExperienceHost.exe" -ServerName:App.AppXywbrabmsek0gm3tkwpr5kwzbs55tkqay.mca

There are a lot more error codes but these seem to be the most relevant. If you give me an email address I can send you the all events that occur during a start up where the start menu didn't launch.


For the most part the problem self-resolves as soon as the machine connects to the internet. The computers are able to use a wired connection or a saved wifi connection effortlessly.

If computer is not hardwired to the internet and if there aren't any known/saved wifi networks broadcasting nearby, a new problem emerges: the PC is unable to display available internet connections. Clicking the globe icon in the task menu doesn't do anything. (Probably because the start menu isn't actually working.) When this happens, we instruct our users to hit Ctrl+Alt+Del and press the globe icon at the bottom right of the screen. This allows them to connect to other wifi networks that are broadcasting nearby but not saved to the computer's settings.

Restarting the computer can resolve the issue as well.

SFC /scannow does not resolve the issue.


  1. Our GPO is very out of date. Fixing this is a priority -- one of many. I disclose this information in hopes of aiding you in helping me find the root cause, not because I want you to tell me to update our GPO.

Let me say that again: Please do not tell me that we need to fix our GPO before further assistance is rendered. If you want to tell me to search for X rule in Y policy that's fine but please, please, please don't tell me to just update our policy. (I've worked IT for over 15 years. I know how helpdesk minds work. :-) ).

  1. As far as I can tell, we didn't start receiving reports of this issue until OS build 21h2 was released.

Thank you for your time.

Windows 10
Windows 10
A Microsoft operating system that runs on personal computers and tablets.
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  1. Kapil Arya 7,856 Reputation points MVP


    Try to re-register Start Menu:

    Let us know if this helps!

    Note: Included link in this reply refers to blog post by a trusted Microsoft MVP.

  2. Limitless Technology 39,506 Reputation points

    Hi there,

    With such a big fleet of computers have you found any similarities within these affected PCs?

    As you have stated that these issues disappear after connecting to the internet is there any third-party application like security providers that might affect the behavior of the start menu.

    I suggest you use some tools like Promon or Sysmon during these events to exactly capture what is causing these crashes which might ease us in troubleshooting.

    Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry, and process/thread activity. You can get the tool from here

    System Monitor (Sysmon) is a Windows system service and device driver that, once installed on a system, remains resident across system reboots to monitor and log system activity to the Windows event log. You can get the tool from here


    --If the reply is helpful, please Upvote and Accept it as an answer–

  3. Alex Theisen 1 Reputation point

    I am having the same/similar issues. I discovered the issue trying to update the last of our employees to 21H2, after reimaging, left clicking the start button, File Explorer and the taskbar search and right clicking the taskbar search give the 'unable to start a dcom server' error as well. The fix I have found is uninstalling the newer Windows Security Update KB's, in the computers I have been testing, anything on KB5013942 or higher have these issues, computers on KB5012599 or lower do not. This is not the ideal fix as our computers will be grossly out of compliance very quickly and I have still not been able to find a root cause. One thing I did notice is I had kind of an oddball computer with no 3rd party AV software, (we use Symantec/Crowdstrike currenlty due to transitioning from Symantec to Crowdstrike) and that computer was on the latest KB on 21H2 and had no issues, after installing them the issues appeared, however, uninstalling the AV software did not resolve it, only rolling back Security KB's "resolved" it.

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