Server 2016 & Windows 10 Start Menu Not Working

I’d been having some problems with the start menu in both Server 2016 and Windows 10 stopping working. Googling around revealed various posts and loads of the same advice on how to fix the problem. These included using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool with the /restorehealth switch;

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Reinstalling all modern apps via PowerShell with the following command;

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

Creating a new user account and just using that, not an option if the problem affects all accounts on the machine. The only one of the options mentioned that did help was to re-install Windows, this left the start menu working. However as soon as I domain joined the machine again, it stopped working again after a restart. This led me to look at Group Policy as a potential culprit, and sure enough, moving the object to a separate OU and blocking all policy on it left the start menu working. After a long process of linking policies in one by one I came down to a very specific registry setting.

I’d set the ACLs on a specific registry subkey of HKLM, in this case it was HKLM\Software\Microsoft\RPC. These ACLs were missing one specific entry, namely APPLICATION PACKAGE AUTHORITY\ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES.
Adding this in with only read permissions and forcing a policy update brought the start menu immediately back to life. That ACL is one that has appeared in Server 2012 I think, but since that particular part of our policy predates 2012 that ACL wasn’t there. Oddly enough I’ve not seen this cause any problems with Server 2012/2012 R2/Windows 8/8.1, only with Server 2016 & Windows 10.

So the take away from this is to make sure if you restrict any registry ACLs, make sure you include read access for APPLICATION PACKAGE AUTHORITY\ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES.

If all this was helpful and worked for you, please drop a quick note in the comments.

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