I recently tried a couple of free antivirus software solutions having paid for one for several years which has now got too clever (you can’t get just the antivirus; it has to scan for malware, be a firewall, wash your underwear, the usual story) and clashes with most other protective software on my PC.
I found AVG free version to be good, but it’s huge, takes up loads of space and tries to make itself the centre of your universe .. “Do you want to use AVG as your default search engine’ etc. It’s also pretty slow loading and within one reboot repeatedly displays a banner telling me that mscvr80.dll can no longer be found so I did a bit of research on St Google and Avast! free version came up highly recommended. It seems to be just an antivirus and does what it says on the can; well mostly. After a couple of scans I noticed that my desktop was erratic loading from reboot or when the PC was first switched on: sometimes it loaded but most times it showed me desktop icons but no taskbar, quick launch bar or start icon, and in that state it remained locked until a reboot, when sometimes it sorted itself out … until today.
Today I spent 7 hours searching for every solution I could that may account for the desktop not loading properly. My PC almost lived in safe mode and I tried system restore (several times), various C: prompt commands (from web articles), antivirus and antimalware scans, but no result.
In desperation, I tried what I should probably have done first, I uninstalled Avast! free antivirus, et voila, everything worked fine.
This incompatibility with Windows XP, especially SP3 is rarely mentioned but by chance I noticed that a couple of people had reported similar problems with their desktop not loading after installing Avast! antivirus. At least one article mentioned that it was the Avast! software itself that had become corrupted.
I don’t know or understand the reasons, but I do know that if you’re having problems with your desktop loading in Windows XP and have Avast! antivirus installed, it may be worth trying to uninstall the antivirus software first as you could save yourself 7 hours of frustration (and no work!)