Cannot access Windows application shortcuts on Start menu and Taskbar


If your shortcut icons are not working or have disappeared suddenly, do not worry, that's due to an ongoing issue at Microsoft end. This is impacting Windows users globally where the Taskbar and Start menu icons are not working as expected.

Microsoft claimed that a certain Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rule is causing the problems which may be mitigated by setting the "Block Win32 API calls from Office macro" rule to audit only. They reverted the rule to prevent further impact.

Here is the Microsoft support Twitter thread on the topic.




Microsoft has already applied a fix to mitigate the problem and the fix will prevent additional shortcut files from being incorrectly removed, however previously removed shortcut files might not be restored.

Affected users can directly launch Office Apps by using the Office App or through the Microsoft 365 app launcher as a workaround.


⛏️ FIX: Admins can put the Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rule into Audit Mode to avoid further impact. May need to re-enable the rule once the issue has been fully resolved. Customers who do not have the "Block Win32 API calls from Office macro" rule turned on in block mode or did not update to security intelligence update build 1.381.2140.0 are not impacted.

  • Powershell: Add-MpPreference -AttackSurfaceReductionRules_Ids 92e97fa1-2edf-4476-bdd6-9dd0b4dddc7b -AttackSurfaceReductionRules_Actions AuditMode
  • Intune: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/security/defender-endpoint/enable-attack-surface-reduction?view=o365-worldwide#mem
  • Group Policy GPO: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/security/defender-endpoint/enable-attack-surface-reduction?view=o365-worldwide#group-policy

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