Microsoft is investigating an issue causing application shortcuts to disappear from the taskbar or Start menu for Windows users. IT administrators from multiple businesses and organizations on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit have reported the issue. It is believed to be linked to a recent update made to Microsoft Defender.
This issue primarily affects businesses and organizations using Microsoft 365 and Defender to protect against viruses, malware, and other security threats. Microsoft’s official statement acknowledged that it had received information that a particular attack surface reduction (ASR) rule is responsible for the issues.
We're investigating an issue where users are unable to access application shortcuts on the Start menu and Taskbar in Windows. For more details and updates, please follow the SI MO497128 in your admin center.
— Microsoft 365 Status (@MSFT365Status) January 13, 2023
The company has since reverted the rule to prevent further impact while investigating the problem. However, Microsoft still needs to provide an alternative solution or advice on how IT administrators can restore the missing shortcuts on affected computers.
As a result, IT administrators have been working to resolve the problem by setting up a “Block Win32 API calls from Office macro” rule to only audit. Many have also had to instruct Windows users to launch their apps manually by navigating to the location where they are installed or through Start > Run and the executable’s name.
It’s worth noting that this issue is not affecting normal Windows users or individual users but only those managed within companies. This could still mean hundreds or thousands of devices in bigger organizations that rely on Microsoft’s security for threat detection. The issue has caused significant inconvenience and disruption for many businesses, and IT administrators have been working hard to find a solution to restore the missing shortcuts.
Hi Tom! We see all shortcuts gone, office apps Edge, custom web apps. Defender seems to delete .lnk files since update of ASR rule.
— Steven Bink (@sbink) January 13, 2023
This is not the first time that Microsoft has had to investigate issues with its products and updates. The company has had to deal with various bugs, glitches, and security vulnerabilities affecting its products and services. However, it’s important to note that Microsoft is committed to providing its customers with the best possible experience. It will continue to investigate this issue and provide updates as soon as more information becomes available.
In the meantime, businesses and organizations affected by this issue are advised to monitor Microsoft’s official website and social media channels for updates and further information. They can also contact Microsoft’s customer support for assistance.