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Windows fails to start with error Missing or Corrupt ntoskrnl.exe when keys are pressed during startup

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

Symptoms

When you press or hold down keys on the keyboard as you start your computer, you may see the following message and Windows will fail to start.

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

This problem does not occur if you do not press any keys during startup.

Note This problem can occur on any Windows operating system prior to Windows 7, on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

Cause

This problem occurs because, during a very small time frame, key presses may cause a part of Windows initialization to fail.

This problem does not cause any corruption or data loss, and the ntoskrnl.exe file is not corrupt as the error message says.

Resolution
To workaround this issue, do not press any keys during startup until the Windows startup screen is displayed.
Properties

Article ID: 2022960 - Last Review: 10/27/2010 13:31:00 - Revision: 4.0

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 Standard

  • KB2022960
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