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I hit my windows key to launch the start screen immediately after logging into windows. Something is unhappy, as now I can't close the start screen or interact with it in any way.

I've managed to get task manager and chrome up on my other monitor.

What task do I need to close (or run) to kill/restart this frozen Start Screen?

Thanks!

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Try ending the explorer.exe process in task manager, then choose File->Run new task and enter explorer.exe to restart it.

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  • That didn't work in this instance, I'd already tried that. But I'm pretty certain it would be the solution 99% of the time, so I'll mark that as an answer. This time I'm pretty sure it's the dead hard drive that I've plugged in to try and recover, just bringing certain OS operations to a crawl. (The Start Screen closed itself before I even saw your response). – Codemonkey Jan 28 '15 at 14:12
  • If the drive is faulty then it might well cause the PC to lock up and become unresponsive. Even a bad USB flash drive can bring Windows to its knees sometimes. – James P Jan 28 '15 at 14:14
  • testdisk found it eventually (sat on the "Please Wait..." screen for ten minutes or more). 346 cylinders into 121,603. This could take a while :) – Codemonkey Jan 28 '15 at 14:29
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Based on the following statement you made.

I hit my windows key to launch the start screen immediately after logging into windows. Something is unhappy, as now I can't close the start screen or interact with it in any way.

and

This time I'm pretty sure it's the dead hard drive that I've plugged in to try and recover, just bringing certain OS operations to a crawl. (The Start Screen closed itself before I even saw your response).

It does indeed sound like Windows is waiting for I/O events from a device that is connected likely the drive you suspect yourself. As for the specific question you asked you can do the following to force the Start Screen to close and Windows Explorer to be restarted.

What task do I need to close (or run) to kill/restart this frozen Start Screen?

The Start Screen would be closed if the Explorer.exe process is no longer running. So one would need to simply do the following:

  1. Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE
  2. Select Start Task Manager from the CTRL+ALT+DELETE Screen
  3. Select Explorer.exe
  4. Hit End Task
  5. Hit File
  6. Select New Task (Run ...)
  7. Type Explorer.exe

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