Always watch your PATH

For a couple of days I’ve had major trouble with my work notebook. After installing new Visual Studios (2012 and 2013), all of a sudden various system software stopped working.

For example several applications could no longer be started using the pinned icons in the task bar. Also, when trying to invoke some system dialogs in the Control Panel I got error messages like %windir%\system32\xyz.exe was not found. Or the strange fact that all the entries in the Start Menu lost their symbols…

After some days of much cursing and swearing, several attempts of restoring previous Restore Points, etc., I got a hint that solved my problem:

The content of the PATH environment variable may not be longer than 2048 characters! If it is, neither the PATH variable, nor any other %..% system variable will work.

I shortened the path, rebooted, problem solved. Welcome to Windows 7, where the PATH variable is still limited in length…

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