I built a lower-end computer for my uncle for Xmas. It worked fine when I built it and started her up for the first time. He was setting it up at home yesterday and when it booted up, no icons were there. The typical Windows rolling hills background was up, but no taskbar or icons. I told him to restart, and they came up. I thought it was a one-time bug, but then they wont come up at all anymore. He works alot of the day so I don't get to talk to him alot about it, but he said he restarted a few times and no luck. He also installed a wireless mouse. The tracking was way too fast so he adjusted the speed, but when he rebooted, it didnt save his settings. I'm not really sure that the issue is here. He may not have installed the mouse properly, but as for the Icons, I dont understand the problem. I don't think it's the display drivers because it worked fine on my dad's monitor (Same as my uncle's Acer LCD). Could be an issue with Windows. I'm going out there tonight so any suggestions could help. I plan to re-install windows, but can any of you foresee other problems that may be causing this?
^ Although your suggestion to fire up explorer.exe manually is absolutely correct, it *might* get a little annoying to have to do that with every boot.
OP: Often, the root of this problem is a program trying to run at startup that hangs, which in turn can disrupt the rest of the Windows boot process including explorer.exe. Check the most obvious things first- TSR's, updated drivers, etc. If the mouse he installed has a startup program associated with it, kill it. Windows reinstall is good too but if you had a clean install already, you might just have the same problem again.
There shouldn't be much on there. He did say he installed Nero Express before the problem, perhaps Nero has something at Startup. Also, when he was installing the monitor drivers, it wanted to 'setup' his display and asked what kind of resultion he wanted, but it was along the lines of "420, 740, 1080" or whatever the TV settings are. My dad runs 1440x1050, which isnt quite 1080, so I'm wondering if that's his problem. Sounds like I just need to update the drivers and make sure all the settings are legit.