Solution to 'Critical Error Start Menu and Cortana aren't Working'

Many users have been having this critical error, and it seemed rather upsetting as it is barely less than a week since the release of the Windows 10 and a serious bug like this shows up. The full error reads:

"Start Menu and Cortana aren't working. We'll try to fix it the next time you sign in. Sign out now:
After frequent signing out, it couldn't fix itself, so I had to try solving it myself. Noteworthy is, while this error is displayed, nothing on the desktop, or taskbar, or even start menu can be interacted with, but your O.S is still full functional, it's just the WindowsExplorer.exe file that is misbehaving.


Of the several possible solutions that came to mind, the first I tried worked perfectly. Here it is:
  • Hold Ctrl + Shift + Esc to bring up Task Manager (NB: tast manager's file->run new task seemed to not be able to bootstrap any program)
  • Locate Windows Explorer under processes
  • Right click "Windows Explorer"and click on open file location (This will open an explorer window in the directory C:\Windows\. You can also close the Windows Explorer process and right any other process and click on open file location.
  • Go to C:\Windows\System32
  • Right click cmd and run as administrator
  • in cmd enter:  sfc /scannow
  • Wait for the scan and restart


  1. Replies
    1. Did you try creating another fresh account? or running rstrui from system32 and go back to a previous date?

      Have you resolved it?

  2. I had this issue for the first time tonight. I have an HP Pavilion 17 Notebook, that I updated from Windows 8.1 to 10 a couple weeks ago. I did search using my phone to find a solution, and that led me to check Task Manager. I didn't see anything unusual. I did see the thing about running sfc/scannow, but did not run that. Instead I ran my Glary Utilities scanner. I have it set to run Registry Cleaner, Shortcuts Fixer, Spyware remover, Disk Repair, Tracks Eraser, Temporary files cleaner, and start up manager. it didn't find anything with the registry, or shortcuts finder, it found 1 issue in disk repair, and whatever in temp files. Didn't find anything to fix in start up manager. After all that ran, I hit CNTRL+ALT+DEL to be able to use a power button to restart, since start menu was DOA.

    As it was restarting Windows updated itself which ran for a bit. Then I logged on and the problem appears to be gone for now. Not sure if it was the update or if it was the disk error Glary found or what. But it worked for me.

    Hope this helps others.

  3. Many Thanks.
    Worked a treat for me :-)