the program can’t start because %hs is missing

bsod-hs-windows-error

ever get this error on a Windows pc before?

last week i had a client call and saw that his computer was in a boot loop. it would boot to Windows 7 and then reboot, over and over again. i brought the computer back to the shop and disabled automatic restart and found the dreaded “The program can’t start because %hs is missing.”

in all of my years as a network administrator, support technician, and network consultant, i have never seen this error. what program cant start? where is the program located? is it easy to fix? the blue screen was absolutely useless to me. luckily, i did some searching online and found that a simple registry modification would fix this and allow me to boot into Windows. i grabbed my trusty PC Regedit cd (live linux registry editor) and booted it up. i navigated to the following registry locations:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Session Manager\SubSystems\
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet002\Control\Session Manager\SubSystems\

and modified the value of the Windows key from this

%SystemRoot%\system32\csrss.exe ObjectDirectory=\Windows SharedSection=1024,20480,768 Windows=On SubSystemType=Windows ServerDll=basesrv,1 ServerDll=winsrv:UserServerDllInitialization,3 ServerDll=consrv:ConServerDllInitialization,2 ServerDll=sxssrv,4 ProfileControl=Off MaxRequestThreads=16

to this

%SystemRoot%\system32\csrss.exe ObjectDirectory=\Windows SharedSection=1024,20480,768 Windows=On SubSystemType=Windows ServerDll=basesrv,1 ServerDll=winsrv:UserServerDllInitialization,3 ServerDll=winsrv:ConServerDllInitialization,2 ServerDll=sxssrv,4 ProfileControl=Off MaxRequestThreads=16

making sure to change consrv to winsrv. the next step was to find out what caused this issue in first place. in my case, it was caused by an unknown mbr infection. each time we rebooted, the registry values would change back and we would need to boot into PC Regedit again.

we attempted every method we know to get rid of the mbr infection, but nothing we tried would destroy it. in the end, we had to reformat and reinstall… not the best solution, but we spent way too much time attempting to fix the issue, that a reformat seemed the best and easiest solution.

has anyone else come across this issue? how did you fix it?

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Discussion

  1. John S says:

    You sir, are a life saver… thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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