Windows 11 again has a problem with third-party customization apps that are used to modify the operating system’s interface, with one of these applications clashing with the latest update for the OS.
That’d be the new preview (optional) update for Windows 11 22H2 (patch KB5028254), which as XDA Developers spotted has broken the Start menu for some users of the customization app ExplorerPatcher (going by reports online).
If all this sounds familiar, it’s because earlier in the year we witnessed issues with ExplorerPatcher (and StartAllBack) causing trouble with File Explorer (and nasty boot loops). This was with the Moment 2 update, in fact, back in March (when that was released in preview).
With this gremlin rearing its head again – albeit causing a different issue – what is Microsoft doing? Well, not a lot it seems. Let’s dive into why.
Analysis: Not our problem
Back in March, when these third-party apps became problematic for Windows 11, Microsoft said it would investigate the matter (as The Register reported at the time) and provide more info. What happened was that the developers of both ExplorerPatcher and StartAllBack released patches for their clients to solve the bug, and that was that. We didn’t hear anything else from Microsoft.
Now that issues have appeared again, it seems Microsoft has got fed up, and is washing its hands of the matter. As advised in a release health status update for Windows 11, Microsoft says: “We recommend uninstalling any third-party UI customization app before installing KB5028254 to prevent this issue. If your Windows device is already experiencing this issue, you might need to contact customer support for the developer of the app you are using.”
The issue is marked as ‘mitigated external’ which basically means it’s up to the developer (an external party) to fix it for their app (as happened in the past), and Microsoft doesn’t want to know.
In short, affected users only have two options: nag the developer for a fix, or uninstall the customization app in question.
Is that a reasonable response from Microsoft? In fairness to the software giant, it has previously noted that some of these apps use “unsupported methods to achieve their customization” and that this can produce weird side-effects. Given that the methods are ‘unsupported,’ Microsoft’s view is that it doesn’t have to take this software into consideration when updating Windows 11 code (especially if this is going to happen repeatedly, which seems to be the case).
We don’t feel that’s unreasonable of Microsoft in all honesty, but still, the response does feel a little cold and ‘not our problem’ in nature.
Note that KB5028254 is an optional update right now, so there’s no need to install it, and the upgrade is still in testing; you can simply steer clear.
However, this will become a mandatory cumulative update for August, and therein lies the problem – ExplorerPatcher users (and possibly those employing other third-party customization apps) could then have a broken Start menu. Hopefully, though, the developer of this app will have implemented a fix by then (because Microsoft certainly won’t, that’s abundantly clear).