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Windows 11 update breaks PCs that dare sport a custom UI

If you're using ExplorerPatcher or StartAllBack, this is why your computer won't start

The massive update to Windows 11 rolled out this week is proving to be a headache for users who are running some third-party UI customization applications on their devices.

Microsoft said that after applying the KB5022913 February 2023 non-security preview update – also called Moment 2 – Windows systems with some of those UI tools installed won't work at all as expected.

"Windows devices with some third-party UI customization apps might not start up," the IT titan noted on the Windows Health Dashboard site.

"These third-party apps might cause errors with explorer.exe that might repeat multiple times in a loop. These types of apps often use unsupported methods to achieve their customization and as a result can have unintended results on your Windows device."

ExplorerPatcher and StartAllBack are two of the UI customizations apps caught up in borkage, according to the software purveyor, although in the latter case getting the most current build may fix the issue. The problem only affects systems running Windows 11 22H2. Windows Server is not affected.

ExplorerPatcher is an open-source program for both Windows 10 and 11 that deliver a range of customization options for the Windows device's desktop, including restoring the Windows 10 taskbar to Windows 11 devices to adding or removing features.

A problem between Windows 11 and ExplorerPatcher has been talked about in a GitHub forum since at least late January. StartAllBack is a similar tool that offers Windows 11 users the ability to "restore and improve" everything from the taskbar and Start menu to File Explore, the control panel, and context menus.

Microsoft is offering a workaround for now and it's pretty blunt, recommending that you uninstall any third-party UI customization apps before loading the KB5022913 update onto the systems.

"If your Windows device is already experiencing this issue, you might need to contact customer support for the developer of the app you are using," the company wrote. "If you are using StartAllBack, you might be able to prevent this issue by updating to the latest version (v3.5.6 or later)."

It's unclear how – or whether – this issue will be resolved. Microsoft said it is investing the problem and "will provide more information when it is available." Those using any of these apps who encounter problems will have to contact customer support for the developer of the offending app.

The February 2023 update is an optional release that won't automatically be loaded but can be installed manually. Among the new features are a shortcut to Bing's AI chatbot being put in the taskbar and Phone Link for iOS so iPhone users can connect directly to the Windows devices.

It also includes tabs in Notepad, a touch-optimized taskbar for 2-in-1 devices, and enhanced support for braille systems. ®

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