Windows App Shortcuts Deleted on January 13

Update 1/17: Microsoft on Saturday published advice on how to address a Microsoft Defender Antivirus security intelligence update glitch that deleted application links in the Start menu and on the Desktop and Taskbar. In essence, Microsoft offered a PowerShell script for IT pros (just designed for English users), but it only restores Start menu app links, and doesn't restore Desktop or Taskbar app links.

"The script does not currently restore taskbar shortcuts and Microsoft is continuing to work on a solution," Microsoft wrote in its Saturday post. An FAQ was published here.

Microsoft indicated in a Friday Twitter post that it working to address a problem that's caused application shortcut links to be dysfunctional or disappear on the Start Menu and Task Bar on Windows systems.

Many users took to Twitter on Friday to complain about the issue, but it's unclear how widespread it may be. The complaints typically described application links disappearing. Shortcut links were described as being deleted from the Windows Taskbar, and Office's Click-To-Run update technology was said to be blocked, according to this Twitter post by engineer Martin Schmidli.

Microsoft is referring IT pros to Message Center post MO497128, which describes the incident and some remediation steps to take. The description is only available to IT pros with Message Center access.

Microsoft stated that it is working to address the problem. In the meantime, Microsoft advised IT pros to use an "Audit Mode" setting for an "offending" Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rule to "avoid further impact." Microsoft's reversion of this offending ASR rule may take several hours to take effect, the Message Center post indicated.

The offending ASR rule was described as "Block Win32 API calls from Office macro," which Microsoft suspects is involved with the deleted app shortcuts.

Many other IT pros have indicated in Twitter posts that the problem originated from a Microsoft Defender Antivirus security intelligence update (KB2267602), and are associating it with Microsoft's "update Tuesday" release on Jan. 10. This view was described by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Anoop Nair in this blog post.

Nair offered some explicit workarounds for the issue in his post for IT pros. However, the apparently deleted application shortcuts will still have to be restored.

Once again, Microsoft's official advice comes through Message Center post MO497128, which so far has just recommended using Audit Mode with the problematic ASR rule. Microsoft, as yet, has not mentioned how to deal with the deleted shortcuts.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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