Missing desktop icons and start menu

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Hello all hopefully someone out there can help me, I have a friends pc at home that is giving all sorts of problems, The pc was running slow and giving them the occasional BSOD, I suspected malware, spyware, viruses etc, after a lot of swearing and threats of turning the pc into a flowerbox I finally managed to install and run ad-aware SE personal, spybot and nod32 antivirus software, all programs found and removed various nasties, now the pc boots fine into safe mode or normal mode but--- once up and running there is no desktop icons, no start button nothing but the wallpaper and mouse pointer (which works fine). this is in safe mode and normal mode, Ctrl, Alt, Delete brings up the task manager in both modes but explorer.exe will not run, windows update will not update but all virus and anti spyware programs will download latest updates in both safe and normal modes, I have access to the net through another pc and can download and transfer programs via a thumb drive as I can still access this through task manager. hope I have added enough info to start with and look forward to many replies with a possible solution.
yes have tried a repair install will have a look at the link tomorrow its 10.00pm here and I start work in an hour so I will be of untill tomorrow morning and will follow up then. well I loaded hjt onto the pc and scanned the pc, I have attached the hjt log and hope that someone can help me out, I could backup their data and reinstall, but I dont like these things beating me so with a bit of help we may be able to fix this machine. by the way this is a DELL Dimension 3000 with Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.80GHz, Processor Speed 2.73GHz Ram 1024MB, operating system XP Home and Operating System Version 5.1.2600. Well thanks in advance and if I have posted in the wrong spot, please let me know.
this my first post to this forum.
I joined specifically to chime in on this subject. My friend's landlord had this about 1 month ago, ended up having to buy a new copy of Windows $149 for a reinstall since M$ told her (the landlord) that it was due to a invalid XP copy.

Well 2 days ago I recieved a new laptop, spent 7+ hours deleting (its an HP) trial crap/ AOL, installing my stuff, and updating (love windows....), anyhow at like 2 am last nite I finished it. done. I turned it on this morning and wallpaper ONLY. Same exact symptoms that I have been reading everywhere, and all of the posts are from March/ April 2007......Safe mode was fine. Using my other comp, searched and searched, nothing..... Just about to wipe out everything! and really pissed about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and I did a F8 - Last Known Good Configuration, worked! Immediately did a Spybot, Found 3 specific entries: MicrosoftWindowsSecurity_disabled; MicrosoftWindowsSecurityAntiVirusNofity_disabled; MicrosoftWindowsSecurityFirewallNotify_disabled. plus some ordinary spybot discoveries.. Deleted them all and currently doin a Complete system Virus scan.

I tried a virus scan in safe mode which found 8 items but it seemed to be much quicker than now (perhaps not nearly as thorough)


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thanks for the advice but all of these were tried, ended up the people who own the PC asked me to do a format and reinstall of the OS, this has been done and they are happy, disappointed not to work out the problem but as NED KELLY said "such is life".
Google Desktop

Sounds like you have google desktop installed on the pc and its corrupt. This takes control of the desktop and the start menu.

Use Ctl Alt Delete to get to the task manager.
Select the Application tab and press the "new task" button.
Type in "appwiz.cpl" to bring up the Add Remove Programs menu.
Uninstall the Google Desktop application and reboot.
Your desktop and Start meun should be back to normal
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