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I'm not sure how/when this started happening, but this is the scenario. The windows key works perfectly fine (pressing it brings up the start menu), but any windows key combination shortcut doesn't (for example WINKEY+D to bring up the desktop).

What could be causing this and how can I fix it?

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I have almost the exact same problem, only that in my case the shortcuts do work but only if using the Windows key of the right side. The one to the left is not actually broken, as if I press it the start menu still opens, but the shortcuts are not being recognized. – Bruno Augusto Oct 27 '15 at 19:16

For others encountering this issue, you might have a fancy keyboard with a "gaming mode" switch of some sort that disables the windows key. In my case I had a Logitech G110 and had no idea what the switch did :/

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3  
Sometimes it's the simple solutions that make you feel dumb for spending hours trying to implement complicated fixes. – Conrad Vanlandingham Nov 11 '14 at 15:51
1  
Corsair K70 also has a "disable windows key" button, right above Scroll Lock. – Eric Mickelsen Oct 1 '15 at 2:27
    
Razer BlackWidow (chroma stealth) had this same problem. – Andrew Wilson Dec 26 '15 at 19:34
  1. Quick check Win+Tab, Win+P, Win+L and Win+R - are they also not working?

  2. Now check Ctrl+Alt+Del to open Task Manager - is that working (malware test)?

  3. Hit Shift 5 times quickly - is Sticky Keys working?

  4. Now reboot the computer, and test again.

Go to Microsoft KB216893, and do NOT run the "fix it" (XP). Instead, go halfway down the page to "Let me fix it myself", run regedit, and see if the following key exists there:

  • Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout
  • Value: Scancode Map
  • Type: REG_BINARY (Binary Value)
  • Data: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 5B E0 00 00 5C E0 00 00 00 00
  • That value disables it, you would remove the key completely to have it work normal.

Then check this key as well while you're in there:

  • Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  • Value: NoWinKeys
  • Type: REG_DWORD (DWORD Value)
  • Data: 0 to disable restriction, or 1 to enable restriction

Check for other software running. Do you have any AutoHotkey scripts running? Do you have any shortcut programs running, like special launcher software, or special mouse or keyboard or touch drivers/software? Temporarily stop that software in Task Manager, and/or temporarily stop the services that it runs on. Or disable the driver, without disabling your last input device, and test again.

I also wonder, because the Win key can mess up a game pretty bad, maybe some games have ways of disabling that while they are running?

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Win-Tab, Win-R, etc are not working. Strangely CTRL+ALT+DEL is not working (this might indicate malware, yes). I have disabled sticky keys myself IIRC, so don't know about that. The kb fix didn't do anything (neither of the keys was there). I'm not running any AHK scripts, nor any special launcher software. The bug always occurs, regardless of games run. – orlp Apr 15 '12 at 6:22
    
Well it might be some kinda malware? How would other qualifyers stuck keys effect it, Stuck menu key , no, Scroll lock, num lock, caps lock , page, print, pause, no, no, no. I can not (yet) find a combination of stuck keys that the Win(start menu) would work when the Win-R(run) also would not work (although that can be dependant on the keyboard). – Psycogeek Apr 15 '12 at 22:20
    
I guess the next test that would be done is a different user? setting up another user to see if the same problem exists in a new user. Booting into safe mode , and seeing if it works there. running a SFC /Scannow to check the system files. Going through the items that startup. Using "AutoRuns" program and looking at the non-windows driver items, and startup items. Using "Hijackthis" to see if anything looks suspitious. – Psycogeek Apr 15 '12 at 22:32
    
Changing the NoWinKeys from 1 to 0, and killing and restarting Explorer (Windows File Explorer), worked for me. I'd had some malware on this laptop because it's been just standing there for about 2 years. Malwarebytes removed the malware but didn't fix the NoWinKeys. – Alf P. Steinbach Aug 17 '15 at 9:12

I had the same problem, and fixed it with Combofix.

I wouldn't have guessed that I had malware, as I had no symptoms. I had thought a bad keyboard, so I tried using this keyboard testing software, and it said my keyboard was fine, but the shortcuts didn't work.

Thanks Psycogeek for leading me the right way.

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In my specific case, I had played around with the Windows Game Bar to record a JavaScript animation. I think that this Game Bar disables the shortcuts. In my case, I had to first press only Win to popup the start menu. After that, the Win+R shortcut worked because the browser (of which Windows now thinks it's a game), lost focus.

Somehow the problem disappeared after reading through this question and successively pressing Win+Tab, Win+P, Win+L and Win+R, but obviously, one should be able to disable it by telling the Game Bar that the application (in my case, the browser) is not a game.

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I have exactly the problem you describe, I dont know how to fix it definitively as it appears whenever. – Marco Medrano Mar 9 at 14:15

I had the same problem (Win + D, Win + L, Ctrl + Alt + Del not working) and just now fixed it by installing Adobe Acrobat Reader update, which was sitting on my tray notification.

It sounds weird, but believe me, it fixed the issue.

Don't forget to restart the computer.

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