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I have a Windows Server 2008 R2 box with the Desktop Experience feature enabled, so I have the Aero Basic theme going (because I find 2008R2 in Classic Mode an even worse experience compared to Vista's).

When I launch a program from its button on the taskbar the explorer process freezes for a few moments and the start button gets a white background.

Here's a screenshot:

enter image description here

After about 20 seconds or so Explorer un-freezes and the program I wanted to run is finally launched.

I've had a look with AutoRuns and I can't find any unusual shell extensions that might be causing this slow-down.

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I did some research, and it turned out to be caused by a pending hard-drive failure, of all things.

After running a chkdsk to repair the bad sectors everything was back to normal, though I did need to buy a replacement disk.

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