Security Update Kills Windows Shortcuts

John Lister's picture

A Microsoft Defender update has caused havoc by removing desktop, Start Menu and Taskbar shortcuts. Some users even say entire programs have disappeared.

The closest thing to good news is that, although it affects both Windows 10 and 11, the problem only appears to affect Windows enterprise versions, rather than home users. That's because the problem is with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, a version of the security tool designed for networked computers.

For most affected users, the problem is "limited" to the various shortcuts disappearing. Some have also reported that using the Windows key and typing the program name no longer works. (Source:

North America Gets Lucky

The problem most widely affects links to Office applications, though a wide variety of software is affected. Reports include disappearing links for third party tools such as Chrome, Firefox and Acrobat.

Less widespread problems reported by some users include program files themselves disappearing and some items from the desktop mysteriously moving to the recycle bin for OneDrive. It's not clear if that is indeed connected or simply a coincidence.

It also seems the effects may be affected by geography, with most North American users dodging a bullet as Microsoft switched off the faulty update before rolling it out there.

The cause of the problem appears to be complicated in terms of technology but simple in principle: a security rule meant to stop malware from activating Windows functions mistakenly flagged up the shortcuts as malicious activity and deleted them.

Initial Fix Dubbed Inadequate

Microsoft has released scripts (computer code) to try to fix the problem, but it appears to be a drop in the ocean. At the time of writing, the fix covers shortcuts for just over 30 applications, meaning system administrators may have to manually recreate shortcuts for everything else. That may involve reinstalling applications completely. (Source:

The fix also appears to only cover the Start menu, not the taskbar or desktop shortcuts. Some system administrators have also reported that although the fix is meant to cover Word, it doesn't work with the most common way of configuring Word access for multiple users on a network.

What's Your Opinion?

Has your workplace been affected by this problem? Did the fix work in your case? Should Microsoft pay compensation for the staff time lost dealing with this issue?

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buzzallnight's picture

the latest patches

so some fing hacker doesn't mess up a lot of stuff on your computer

oh wait!!!

I guess that happens anyway!

Unrecognised's picture

Thanks for this nice article. It would be helpful if you could specify in the text
(images not displaying so not sure if that info is contained in those) exactly which update it is, so we can compare with what we've got.