Enlarge / Windows 11 has built-in Microsoft Teams integration that may have shut down the desktop and taskbar in a recent preview build.
Microsoft released a new build of Windows 11 to Windows Insiders late last week as it prepares to release the operating system on October 5th, but the first testers to install the new build quickly ran into issues – the system tray, the The desktop, the settings app, and other core components of the operating system refused to load. Microsoft quickly released a registry edit that fixed the issue, but the company didn’t elaborate on what went wrong.
The most thorough investigation of the problem comes from developer Daniel Aleksandersen’s Ctrl blog. As he explains, the “IrisService” mentioned in Microsoft’s registry editor is part of the Windows Spotlight service which is responsible for getting new lock screen wallpapers and other suggestions and advertisements. In Aleksander’s own words:
Based on the workaround Microsoft provided, I narrowed the problem down to a registry key that contained a serialized JSON blob. The blob contained an ad for Microsoft Teams. The messages and pictures in the promotion were the same as the panel you get when you press Windows key + C on a Windows account not yet set up with Teams.
In other words, it looks like an ad for one of Windows 11’s built-in apps went wrong and as a result, most of the operating system’s user interfaces have stopped working.
This problem combines two of the most annoying Windows trends of recent times. First, the operating system tirelessly promotes and prioritizes Microsoft’s first-party apps and services. Second, the operating system communicates in the background with Microsoft’s servers to report diagnostic data, pull ads, and even download Windows Store apps without asking. As Aleksandersen rightly points out, these non-essential background processes should not be able to disrupt core functionality. And while this problem has occurred with beta builds of Windows 11 and won’t actually run on most PCs, we are less than a month away from the official launch, and most of the recent Windows 11 builds have largely shifted to bug-fix mode instead of adding large, new features. This exact build of the operating system was offered to IT organizations on the Release Preview insider channel, which is usually reserved for final or near-final builds.
We asked Microsoft if there are any changes planned to prevent this type of issue from happening when the public version of Windows 11 rolls out next month and we will update when we get a response. The problem shouldn’t affect people installing the latest Insider build now, but if your computer is affected, use Microsoft’s recommended registry edit to get things back to work.