When you type a search word or phrase in the Windows 7 Start menu, the search results may turn up empty with only the category headings (such as “Control Panel”, “Files”, “Microsoft Outlook”) showing. Also, clicking any of the category heading from the search results may open a Windows Security dialog displaying the error "These files can’t be opened".
This happens if the following key exists in the registry, and/or the GroupBy data is incorrect:
Note: The above key should not exist. If it’s present in your system, right-click on the key and choose Delete. Make sure you DON’T accidentally remove the identical key under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive.
You can either delete the following registry key manually or run the automated Fix-It solution from Microsoft. You can Obtain the Hotfix @ The "Search programs and files" box does not display search results correctly in Windows 7 and in Windows 2008 R2.
Thanks to my friend and fellow MS-MVP Daniel Martin who pointed me to a Microsoft Answers forum thread, answered by BobbyM [MSFT] which eventually resolved the problem. As said earlier, later Microsoft made available a hotfix that rectifies the problem automatically.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.