Nothing shows up at login screen

Running Windows 7 Ultimate N x86 on a Dell Inspiron 6400

I used MSConfig to set the computer to boot into Safe Mode - Minimal Services. I did nothing else. That's the only thing I did.

Now when it gets to the login screen, nothing shows up. Just the cursor, the Ease of Access button, and the Shutdown button. No choosing users, no entering passwords, nothing. Which means I cannot log into any accounts. All I can do is shut it down or restart the computer.

I'd also turned off system restore a while back because of an infection there, but forgot to turn it back on and so I have no way to roll the computer back.

I tried hitting F8 and telling it to boot normally, but it continued through Safe Mode, so no luck there.

I can go to the Repair Your System option, but that's the best I can do.

Anyone have any ideas on how to fix this?


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I am going to try to see if I can duplicate your situation, but I need specifics.

So, your system was running fine and you decided to set up msconfig to start in safe mode with minimal drivers. Did you also select "Make all Boot Settings permanent"?

Now it will/will not boot into Safe Mode?

If you select to boot Windows normally, you get no User Logon page, and using CTRL+Alt+Delete does not give you an opportunity to enter a password?


Noob Whisperer
Not sure if this will help or not, but have you had the opportunity to select "Last Known Good Configuration" from the advanced boot options


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I went ahead and rebooted my system with your settings. I will see if answers to the above questions will alter how I set it up.

On my system, which is a UEFI install, the first reboot ended with a "Reboot proper boot device" message, which required me to reset the Windows Boot Manager as the boot device in the bios. If you are running a Legacy (MBR) system, this will probably not occur for you.

The second boot did boot into Safe Mode. When there, I restarted MSconfig and changed the settings back to normal. System then booted normally back into Windows 7.

If yours is doing something out of the ordinary, and it sounds like it is, perhaps the prior virus problem is involved. I have seen viruses that would mess with the Logon system and change the name of the file/service responsible for that.

Trouble's suggestion may help if something in your registry got messed up, or maybe some of the other Repair options.

If you need it, there is a bootable ant-virus from Microsoft called Windows Defender Offline.

Yeah, I've done the Last Good Configuration thing. Still boots into Safe Mode. But it gets to the logon screen and doesn't show me anything. Just the Ease of Access and Shutdown buttons and the cursor. No login stuff. It seems like Windows does boot just fine- or at least, it thinks it does- so the Last Good Config option is a bust because it thinks that the Safe Mode thing WAS a good config.

I've chosen every option and nothing helps. It always goes through the Safe Mode boot process. And when it gets to the logon screen, I get the background, the cursor, and the two buttons in the corners. Nothing else. I can click those buttons, but that's it. CTRL+ALT+DEL doesn't do anything.

MSConfig may have had that perma-thing checked already if it keeps doing this when I select Boot Normally. I didn't see, but it makes sense.

Is there a way to fix this from the Repair Your Computer option? I can do that one just fine.


Noob Whisperer
Unless Saltgrass has some other tricks up his sleeve you may need to resort to editing the system registry offline, from within the Windows Recovery Environment.
Read this Regedit as offline Registry editor and load the system HIVE and check this key
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment
Not sure if that is the ultimate solution..... still researching.

I'm at that key, but I don't know what I'm looking for in it.

What about the OS thing? It says in the Data column "Windows_NT". Could I change that to "Windows" and get it to boot normally? Or should I just leave that alone?


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I found this in the BCD store after I set mine to safe mode - minimal. Look at the last line in the attachment.

To get rid of the entry, two ways come to mind. Both require being in the Command Prompt window in the Repair you Computer section.

Open a Command Prompt window and use bcdedit.exe to remove the entry. The second is to use the bcdboot c:\Windows to replace the entire BCD store and thus, the entry.

The Bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot command will remove the entry from the Store.


I did the first thing, and it stopped booting in Safe Mode. But I'm still having the same problems at the login screen. Nothing but the cursor and those two buttons. CTRL+ALT+DEL still does nothing.


Noob Whisperer
Anytime you are working it the registry, the leave that alone option is always the preferred choice.
I was hoping that something under that key would reflect the changes that you made using MSCONFIG but evidently not.
Check the safeboot key on the left and see if that has anything present that might be something you recognize as you having changed it.
Unfortunately I don't have a Windows 7 machine available right now to examine the registry's nooks and crannies. I can only tell you that my Windows 8 machine has the same data value for that particular entry.
Name OS Type REG_SZ Data Windows_NT

So what can I do to fix my login problem? Any ideas?


Noob Whisperer
Did you happen you make any additional changes under the boot tab of MSCONFIG? Like under the advanced options button did you change anything relating to the number of processors or Maximum memory?

No, that was the only thing that I did.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Well, I am pretty well out of ideas--

Try running the Windows Defender Offline to see if it finds anything.

But since it seems Winlogon, wininit, or userinit may not be working, perhaps you could run a system file check from offline. If a virus has renamed one of these utilities in the registry, it may not help.

How to Run the System File Checker (Sfc.exe) Offline in Windows 7 and Vista - The Winhelponline Blog

If that doesn't help, perhaps starting the hidden admin account will help, but you may not be able to if you are not logged in.

net user administrator /active:yes

Beyond that, possibly a re-install...but make sure you have done a complete shutdown at least once to test.


Noob Whisperer
As Saltgrass indicated in an earlier post in this thread, you may still have some remnants of the previous infection impacting how your system boots.
Did you follow up with his suggestion about running an offline virus scan with the link he provided.
Also you may want to check this key
for the value of the Shell and see if it still reflects explorer.exe

Doing that scan thing right now. Having it scan everything, so I've got time to make a sandwich. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

Okay, the scan finished and said it found corrupt files, but was unable to fix some of them.

Regardless, this seems to have fixed my login problem. Thank you guys so much.


Noob Whisperer
Good to hear.
Follow up with a full virus scan. Since your current antivirus seems to have let you down I would suggest uninstalling it completely follow that up with the vendor specific proprietary removal tool, some of which can be found here Security Software | SingularLabs
Install MSE from here Spyware Protection | Free Spyware Protection | Microsoft Security Essentials update and run full system scan.
Grab the free version of Malwarebytes : Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO removes malware including viruses, spyware, worms and trojans, plus it protects your computer install it, update it and run a full system scan.
And don't forget to turn System Restore back on.
And thanks to Saltgrass (Clark) for his solution to this problem.

This website is not affiliated, owned, or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Program.