12 irritating Windows 10 installation issues, and how to fix them

Having trouble installing and setting up Win10? You aren’t alone.

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Start menu isn’t working

Here’s how to fix one of my favorite Windows 10 error messages: “Critical Error/Your Start Menu isn’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.” You may also see the error, “Critical Error/Start menu and Cortana aren’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.” The Microsoft Answers forum main thread for this problem is currently up to 73 pages, with 1,195 people chiming in that they’ve had the problem, too.

Short answer: Microsoft still hasn’t figured it out. Microsoft engineer Paul Sey says:

You may be able to temporarily resolve the issue by booting to Safe Mode, and then immediately booting back into normal mode. This workaround may resolve your problem for a while, however the error may return later.

To boot to Safe Mode:

  • Hold the Shift key down while you click Start, Power, Restart.
  • Once you are in the Windows Recovery Environment, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, then Startup Settings, and Restart.
  • When it restarts, you should see a number of options. Press 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with networking.
  • Once you sign into your account in Safe Mode, you’re done. Just restart your PC to return to a normal boot.

If you are running a third-party antivirus software, we recommend uninstalling, then reinstalling the antivirus software, as this may also provide a work-around for this problem. Some customers have reported that adding a new local administrator account has resolved their Critical Error. If that doesn’t work, try removing the original administrator account now that you have a new one created.

As far as I can tell, that’s the whole story.

Create a local account

Microsoft really, really wants you to use a Microsoft account. Over the years, the company has made it increasingly difficult to create a local account—one that isn’t hooked into Microsoft’s stuff in the sky. (It’s an open point of debate as to whether using a local account also curtails Microsoft’s snooping, given the ever-present Advertising ID, but that’s another story.)

Here’s how to create a new local account:

  • Click Start, Settings, Family & other users, Add someone else to this PC. (Note that you can’t “Add a family member” with a local account. Presumably that is tied in to parental controls.)
  • In the box marked “How will this person sign in?” down at the bottom, click “The person I want to add doesn’t have an email address.”
  • In the “Let’s create your account” dialog, at the bottom, click “Add a user without a Microsoft account.”
  • At that point, finally, you can type in a user name, password and password hint. Click Next and you suddenly have a local account ready to use on your machine.

And you thought creating a local account would be easy.

Your programs don’t appear on the Start menu’s All Apps list

If you have more than 512 programs on your machine, Windows 10 gives up—the apps don’t appear on your Start all apps list. Although the apps are still installed, you can’t get to them through the Start menu. Your system may freeze, it may become very lethargic, and links might not work.

The 512 limit applies not only to programs. It’s the total of all the programs, folders, files, and shortcuts that you have in your Start menu, on the left and right (tiled) sides.

It’s a bug—nothing you can do about it. In later builds, Microsoft apparently fixed the bug, but it isn’t clear when/if the fix will roll out to the Windows 10 build 10240 masses.

Windows 10 Store won’t start

A lot of people report that they can’t get in to the Windows Store: Click on the tile or on the icon in the taskbar, and nothing happens.

There must be hundreds of posts on various forums about this problem. The Windows 10 forum has a thread where the original poster—after trying a PowerShell command, a DISM and an SFC command, re-registering the Store—only solved the problem by performing a Refresh. You can delete the local cache. Chris Snyder has a lengthy description of the problem he encountered and its solution—for reasons unknown!—on his Common Ground Software Solutions blog. There’s a troubleshooter for Windows apps that may dislodge the problem.

It’s another problem that doesn’t seem to have a single solution.

Windows 10 Mail won’t sync

This problem appears over and over again. The latest suggestion, on the Microsoft Answers forum, is to uninstall the Mail/Calendar app, then reinstall it from the Store.

Uninstalling Mail is easy: Right-click on the tile, on the right side of the Start menu, and choose uninstall. Then go to the Windows Store, search for Mail, click on it, and click Install.

Unfortunately, that fix doesn’t work in many cases. Fortunately, Microsoft’s been pummeled about problems with Mail, and the company seems to update it frequently.

The old problems continue

Microsoft still forces updates on all machines except those connected to a Windows Update server. You can use the Metered Connection trick to block updates, but there’s no guarantee that approach will continue to work.

Microsoft’s patch documentation has gone from bad to nonexistent. In some cases, patches get released long before any documentation appears, as was the case with the Surface Pro 3 firmware update last week.

On the positive side, Microsoft managed to install Windows 10 on an enormous number of computers. If you had no problems with the upgrade, you’re likely in the majority. But if you had problems, there’s a more than tiny chance that no solutions exist yet.

Editor's note: This article originally published on Infoworld.com.

This story, "12 irritating Windows 10 installation issues, and how to fix them" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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