Windows 11 Update Fail Inadvertently Hides The Start Menu, Here's A Workaround

startmenu show apps
Introduced with Windows 95, the 27-year history of the Windows Start Menu has been rife with tweaks and changes. Take the incorporation of Search, for example, which started with  Windows Vista or Windows 8, when Microsoft tried to eliminate the Start Menu altogether.

Today the Start Menu, though no longer labeled as "Start" as it was in earlier generations, is back to being an integral part of the Windows experience. Windows 11 did usher in some dramatic changes to the menu, especially when compared to Windows 10 or Windows 8.1. In recent versions of Windows, at least in non-enterprise editions, Microsoft has been packaging shortcuts to its partners and games into the Start Menu as well, though most power users have managed to purge those and pare them down to the bare minimum to eliminate bloat.
Thanks to the February update to Windows 11, it looks like changes are in store for the Start Menu. According to the blog Windows Latest, some users have reported that the menu disappears as they navigate through some applications. Microsoft, always good for perpetuating stereotypes, claims that this is not a bug but a feature. Though, they are, in fact, technically correct in this case. The issue is related to an update to the 'widgets' packaged in the February update.

The updated version of widgets on Windows 11 is meant to provide a better and quicker interface to news, weather, and personal photos and files. The problem is that the widget icon itself activates the widget menu on mouseover no matter the context. So, if you do not have search or task view enabled, this places the widget menu right next to the start menu. This makes it easy to mouse over the widget menu and accidentally activate it when your Start Menu was the original intent. Additionally, sometimes when the widget menu becomes active, it will override the active state of the Start Menu. When it does this, attempting to click the Start Menu will cause it to open and immediately close until you click on it a second time.
widgets settings
Thankfully, there is an easy workaround. To put it simply, just turn off widgets for now. That deactivates the widgets menu and prevents the mouseover activity from activating the widgets menu. According to a former Microsoft engineer, this is something you should probably do anyway to preserve RAM. To deactivate the widgets button, right-click your taskbar, click on taskbar settings, and then toggle wigets off in the menu.