explorer.exe crashes on startup

I'm setting up a friend's computer, and when it first starts up, everything seems fine, but a few seconds later, the taskbar and all icons disapper. This doesn't happen in diagnostic startup or safe mode. What's the deal? Starting explorer from task manager doesn't work, there are no system restore points, and the computer didn't come with a system disk (Dumbest idea I've ever heard of, it came with a piece of paper that said, "Because Windows XP has system restore and other advanced tools, you do not need a restore disk" BS)

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  1. okay, if I disable every program in msconfig (In the startup tab) it works, so something must be crashing explorer. Any ideas on what would come with a dell computer that would crash explorer?
  2. Most likely spyware or virus.
  3. Here's a couple things to try:

    1. Boot in to "safe mode with networking". Run your web browser and visit Ewido's web site for their free scan. Ewido does an excellent job of clearing out spyware that anti-virus may miss.

    2. Pick an online anti-virus scan service and have it check our system. I often use the scanner at PcPitstop but any will do. The reason for doing a scan from an external site is that some trojans & viruses can trick your installed anti-virus software.

    3. Download Hijackthis. The program generates a list of what runs when you start Windows. You can then post the log to one of several foums and often get an instant response for what to disable.
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