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My buddy was cleaning his computer, which runs Windows XP SP3, trying to get it to run faster. He apparently deleted something on the system level that left Windows in an unusable state.

The system will boot to the Windows desktop, but all icons will show up as .lnk files, and not display their normal icon images, but instead display the 'unknown file' icon.

Also, the start menu is bereft of the normal applications that display on the left hand side, including 'Run'. You can open folders from the right hand side, but again, you can't launch any of the apps by clicking on them.

For troubleshooting I tried navigating to the in the Windows\System 32 folder, but again, I could not launch it.

What is missing from his computer, and how can I get it back to normal? I'm trying to avoid a re-install.

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