I am using Windows 7 x64 SP1 with all updates applied. During the last weeks I observed that some start menu entries / folders suddenly disappeared. Those programs then sometimes can be found using the search function of the start menu, then however they are labeled by the name of their executable (like photoshop instead of Adobe Photoshop). Does anyone know where to start looking for errors? Does the start menu has anything to do with windows search? I doubt it?
Windows search is integrated through the Start Menu, so when you see files that are the executable, that means that Windows search isn't showing you the start menu entry but the actual file.
Typically, a start menu link to an executable supersedes the executable name, so start menu search will only show one and not both. Once the start menu entry is missing, it will start showing you the .exe name and not the start menu link name.
So the problem remains that items are missing from your start menu. Did you make any changes to the computer recently? Otherwise this sort of behavior screams "virus," "torrented software," or "somebody else is messing with my computer." Do you use a password on the machine so kids/wife/friends/coworkers can't cause problems? Is the software authentic so automatic updates don't cause problems?
Are the links hidden or marked as system in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\?
Sorry for the questions, I'll edit them out if you edit your question to include this information and I'll try to drop any better answer I can here.