Ran into a PC with some spyware on it. Removed it very easily, but it apparently left some damage in its wake.
When shortcuts to .exe files are double clicked, the icon fades (the same appearance as if hidden, but it does not have the hidden attribute). Hitting F5 on the desktop causes the file to return to normal. Other icons work, links to URLs, the Internet Explorer icon (which is a system icon) My computer and office documents. These all work. I can right-click the shortcut to an exe file and select open. It will open then just fine.
If I browse out to the actual exe file, it also opens just fine. WIN+E does not work either. MSCONFIG will not open from RUN, but it will open from the full path. It seems to be a problem with anything that links back to an EXE or command that launches and EXE (opening email attachments do not work either since it will try and call an application). Iexplore from the run command does work, but that's a call to the exe directly from the path.
SO... I've attempted to fix the exe file association with the various REG files that float around the forums, but that doesn't fix it. It's not the normal exe file association fix. It feels like remnant damage to the system from spyware.
I cannot reformat and reimage this machine just yet. It has vendor software on it that's needed come monday and the vendor won't be around until the end of next week. We can get into applications easily enough with right-clicks, but it's making life pretty darn difficult for the user. Totally lost on it though... Trying SFC now. Ran every antivirus/spyware program I legally can. Restore Points are turned off in our organization (...yeah). So that's not an option. Usually, I'd just reimage the machine, probably spend only about 30 minutes tops on it. But can't since it has vendor software.