Start Menu Items Missing after Clean Install

I'm aware that there are other old posts about this issue, but I need to throw it into the forum again as it seems to be unresolved.

After a new (clean) install of Windows 7, the start menu is empty - all installed programs and other items usually posted by the installer are missing. Is there a fix (not a workaround) for this problem? There have been a lot of postings for this issue over time throughout the Internet, but I cannot find a real fix (like a patch from Microsoft) for this problem. When I install Windows 7 with a newer release of Windows 7, the start menu is populated as expected, so I can only infer that Microsoft knew about and fixed the problem in later releases, but did not post a fix. Unfortunately, I have a couple of systems that have recently been built with an earlier release of Windows 7, and subsequently, have the problem.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Where did you get your "older" install media for Windows 7? Since I have done numerous installs and never seen the problem, could it be related to your system or the media?

If you are using Dell Install media, you might try a normal Windows 7 DVD to see if there is any difference. Hard to say what might be causing the problem. Since you probably do not have an anti-virus installed originally it should not be that, but I suppose it could be related to the Dell Recovery Partitions. Did ALL of your Dell systems come with Windows 7 as the original OS?

Can you tell if the programs are actually installed, but the Start Menu is just not populated?

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The problem with the start menu is related to the version of Windows 7 that Dell provided on their system "re-installation" disk. The original installation of Windows 7 that came on the machines did not exhibit the start menu problem, so I assume it was installed (imaged) from a different release.

To answer your other question, the problematic systems appear to be correctly installed and everything in the start menu file structure is in the right place, they just don't display. So, all of this leads me to conclude that there is a bug in the Dell supplied release of Windows 7, and other users that just happen to use their re-installation disk with the same build must have the same problem. Systems installed with a Windows 7 release (not from Dell) work without a problem. So far, Dell has been reluctant to get involved with the problem since they didn't build the release. Hmmm...

I will throw the problem back at Dell again and will let everyone know what happens. Thanks for your reply.


Essential Member
Premium Supporter
My son is a travelling Dell trouble shooter. I have just spoken to him and he states he has not experienced this problem since the release of Windows 7. This is a non-English environment, so it could be language related, of course. He adds that their recovery/reinstallation DVD, is a Dell product. "So far, Dell has been reluctant to get involved with the problem since they didn't build the release", but, at the same time, also adds that this is normally a customer option to burn on first boot up. (In this country, anyway)

Later. My son has just contacted me again, and, as I see you are American, he says have a look here:

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