Windows 11 customization apps might break the Start menu

Start menu in Windows 11
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's latest update for Windows 11, version 22H2, is causing a major issue for third-party UI customization apps (KB5028254).
  • The issue is breaking the Start menu.
  • Third-party software developers are to blame for this issue, according to Microsoft.
  • ExplorerPatcher has been identified as one of the platforms affected by this issue.
  • Microsoft has indicated that the software developers are using "unsupported methods," which is why users are experiencing this glitch.

Microsoft has identified an issue affecting third-party UI customization apps, which breaks the Start menu on Windows 11. The company has narrowed the issue to a recent Windows 11, version 22H2 update, KB5028254.

And while the company has acknowledged the issue, it has categorically indicated it's not at fault. The issue seems to be on the third-party software developers' end. Essentially, third-party UI customization apps are designed to enhance and improve the visual appearance of the operating system.

At this time, Microsoft has already identified ExplorerPatcher as one of the platforms impacted by the issue. The company further highlighted that third-party customization software leveraging "unsupported methods" is the main reason why the Start menu in Windows 11 is breaking. 

As highlighted by Microsoft in the advisory notice posted on the Windows Release Health page:

After installing KB5028254 or later updates, the Start menu might not open on Windows devices with some third-party UI customization apps installed. The known affected third-party UI customization app is ExplorerPatcher but others might also be affected. These types of apps often use unsupported methods to achieve their customization and as a result can have unintended results on your Windows device.

To this end, there's no fix available for this issue. But as a workaround, Microsoft recommends the uninstallation of any third-party UI customization apps before the installation of the update. 

However, if you've already installed the update and you're experiencing the issue, the company advises users to contact customer support for the developer of the app installed on their devices.

Windows Central take

Since Microsoft launched Windows 11, multiple users have been vocal about the operating system's flawed design, blatantly expressing hate for the Start menu in Windows 11. As such, there has been a rise in the development of third-party UI customization apps, such as Stardock's Start11 app (which hasn't been affected by this issue), ExplorerPatcher, and more. 

It's apparent that people want to have more control over the UI on their Windows PCs, and third-party UI customization apps are one way around this. It seems the issue might be a subtle way of preventing users from enabling the Windows 10 taskbar on Windows 11. 

This is a developing story; we'll keep tabs on it as it develops and update this post accordingly...

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.