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I have noticed that sometimes Windows believes my Windows Key is pressed even though it isn't.

I remember reading that the problem goes away if I press the Windows Key manually to reset its status, and in fact, in my experience this works well.

However I am wondering if there is a way to prevent this problem from happening. I have experienced this problem on at least two different machines, all of them on Windows 7 Professional 64 and with the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard (different physical keyboards, but the same model)

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Have you tried a different keyboard? Or a different user profile? –  Tom Wijsman Mar 17 '12 at 17:12
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@TomWijsman, yes, to some extent. I have updated my question. –  user815423426 Mar 17 '12 at 17:21
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1 Answer

I personally doubt that there is a definitive solution to this issue.

I know the problem very well. It pretty much happens at least once a week. Especially when switching between virtual machines a lot.

Basically, the issue can be summarized as, the Windows internal keyboard state does not match the state of the physical keyboard. This usually isn't a problem for any key unless it's a modifier key. Interestingly enough, it seems to affect my Windows key most frequently.
Why that is, I don't understand myself.

Let's look at an easy way to reproduce the issue.

  1. Press and hold the Windows Logo key
  2. Focus a VirtualBox virtual machine window
  3. Release the Windows Logo key
  4. Click the desktop of my physical host machine

If I now press R the Windows Run dialog will pop up, because Windows still thinks the Windows Logo key is pressed. And why shouldn't it? I never released it. I released it on a completely different machine.

What would be the alternative? Interpreting the keyboard changes on the physical host while I work in the VM? Obviously that wouldn't work out well.

Maybe you don't work with VMs, but the problem stays the same. You'll have another application that needs to exclusively capture your keyboard input. Which leads to the problem

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I use Virtual Box (I have it constantly open) and always thought the problem is related to what you describe. I share your skepticism on finding a solution to this, but I thought I would try here. What puzzles me is that pressing the windows key a few times resets the status of the key. Perhaps I am wrong, but if the OS could poll the modifier keys every now and then, the problem could go away. It looks like all it would have to do is check if the physical key is pressed.. –  user815423426 Mar 18 '12 at 18:27
    
Well, if you press the key again in the host system, you get the DOWN and UP event again. Then Windows knows the correct state. You're most likely right with the idea on how it would be fixed. But I would assume it isn't implemented and I could come up with a few possible reasons. Maybe keyboards themselves haven't even a guaranteed method to retrieve the full keyboard state. Sorry that I can't offer more than assumptions. –  Oliver Salzburg Mar 18 '12 at 18:38
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