Man, do I hate when weird, mysterious, obscure bugs insists to randomly strike when you're expecting them the least. (1)

I turned on my personal computer this evening, only to face this:

no desktop on windows 10

That's it. No desktop.

Every single program I invoke runs in fullscreen mode. Including the Calculator (and it's awful). Their windows have no minimize and restore buttons, only the close button.

Right-clicking what was supposed to be the taskbar reveals these three options:

right click on taskbar

Which suggests me that maybe Windows thinks I'm on a tablet. And I'm certainly not.

A few troubleshooting points:

  • It's a rather standard Windows 10 (ver 10240) installation, SSD-based, Bitlocker enabled. Windows Defender disabled by group policy. It has worked well for more than a year.
  • The system was last turned off this morning, via shutdown /s /t 0 (I do that once every a few days to keep everything fresh).
  • I don't have the habit of using system cleaning tools, such as CCleaner. Definitely not related.
  • explorer.exe is running, and so is dwm.exe. Windows explorer can be invoked by Winkey + E and works - but it's unusually slow.
  • Restarting the OS didn't fix it.
  • It also happens in Safe Mode.
  • Nothing unusual in Task Scheduler, or in the Startup entries.
  • It might be malware. I ran this utility earlier yesterday, and I don't use any antivirus at all (only used Outpost Firewall/Hips, but it's license expired). It was an act of imprudence, I know. But a preliminary analysis using Sandboxie didn't reveal anything wrong with that file.

Just what the heck is going on Can someone shed a light on this puzzle?

New details:

  • When I open the Task Manager Detail tab, two instancies of dllhost show up, and then disappear in a matter of seconds. It happens everytime. The instancies always have different PIDs.
  • A similar thing happens in Process Hacker x64 - but only for the first time it's launched. And only one dllhost instance, instead of two.
  • I created a new Administrator account, logged in, and the desktop is normal in there.
  • "Use Start full screen" is disabled in Windows 10 Personalization Settings.
  • Winkey + D, Winkey + M or Winkey + X + clicking "Desktop" does nothing.

(1) See here for another example (yet to be unraveled).


This is the "Tablet Mode" Feature in Windows 10. You might have accidentally clicked it and simply need to switch back to "Desktop Mode"

Click the Notification Button on the right bottom corner, then deselect "Tablet mode". A Screenshot is given for help.

See the screenshot

  • Awesome! (Still a mistery though, I didn't click that by any chance). Thank you – Marc.2377 May 26 '16 at 16:20

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