my son's notebook boots with no desttop at all, the start menu, taskbar, and task tray all gone. there is nothing except the wall paper. he can cntl.alt, delete get a task manager and run some programs that do not require the internet using the task manager. that is totally all there is.
i am not sure what to try. oh, windows XP i think sp1 but maybe sp3.
Sounds like explorer.exe has gone haywire. Go into the task manager and go to the process section. Click file->New Task(run) then type in explorer.exe and report back what happens. If there is an error then reply the EXACT error back here