Critical Error – Start menu and Cortana aren’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.

Scott Atk asked on

In Windows 10, the Start menu will crash, and I’ll get one of the following errors:


“Critical Error – Start menu and Cortana aren’t working.  We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.”




“Critical Error – Your Start menu isn’t working.  We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.”

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PaulSey... replied on


(Updated 05/16/16 with Automated Troubleshooter)

(Updated 02/04/16 with Version update guidance)

(Updated 01/15/16 with URL to new published content)

We are aware that some customers are experiencing this error, and we are actively investigating. A number of customers have reported resolving these error messages by installing the Windows 10 November update.

Start by ensuring you are running Windows 10 version 1511

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows Logo  + r , type ms-settings: , Click OK , Click System , then About.
  2. Look under Version to find out which version of Windows your PC is running.

If your version is not 1511, use Windows Update to get the Windows 10 November update.

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows Logo  + r , type ms-settings: , Click OK , Click Update & security , then Check for updates.

For guided support, we have created a Start menu troubleshooter. After you've completed the troubleshooter, restart your device.

You may also be able to temporarily resolve the issue by booting to Safe Mode, and then immediately booting back into normal mode.  This workaround may resolve your problem for a while, however the error may return later.

To boot to Safe Mode: 

  1. Hold the Shift key down while you press the Power icon and select Restart.

  2. Once you are within the Windows Recovery Environment, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, then Startup Settings, and Restart.

  3. When it restarts, you should see a number of options.  Press 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with networking.

  4. Once you sign into your account in Safe Mode, you’re done.  Just restart your PC to return to a normal boot.

If you are running a 3rd-party antivirus software, we recommend uninstalling and then reinstalling the antivirus software, as this may also provide a workaround for this problem.  The easiest way to uninstall an app is to find it in the Start menu’s app list, right-click the app, and select Uninstall. 

Some customers have reported that adding a new local administrator account has resolved their Critical Error. If that doesn’t work, try removing the original administrator account now that you have a new one created. Details on creating the new local administrator account can be found here along with some additional content on these errors.

We would like to thank the community for providing logs to help us investigate this issue.  With your help, we now have enough information provided in the logs you have provided to drive continued investigations into a solution.  

Thank you!

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DavidAMcBride replied on


I am trying to remain calm while typing this - but I have also been experiencing the "Critical Error - Start Menu and Cortana aren't working" message for the past three days.  For two evenings, I have tried the "Safe Mode reboot" with no success and a number of other suggestions I came across in various forums, as this appears to be a widespread issue.

This evening, I left work early and called Microsoft Technical Support.  After holding for FIVE HOURS I was finally answered by a person named Mark.  I immediately gave Mark my home telephone number in case we were disconnected.  Very prophetic of me, as it turned out...

After describing my issue, Mark indicated that he knew how to fix the issue but that it was quite technical.  He said he needed to refer to his resource material for a possible fix.  He said he was going to put me on hold, and did so despite my protestations.  Of course, you can guess what happened - he disconnected me.  

With naive optimism, I waited to see if he would phone me back - but of course that was too much to hope for.  

My computer is useless at the moment, and I am sorely regretting making the decision to upgrade to Windows 10.  I am sending this to you in the hope that you will take pity on me for the fact I have spent hours and hours trying to fix this with no success and after investing my afternoon to reach Microsoft for help, I was disconnected and not afforded the courtesy of a callback.  Perhaps you will be willing to privately message me to reach out for help?

Thank you,


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