Outlook icons don't work (shortcuts or files) - only way to open is with run outlook /recycle

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Kosh Vorlon

Office Version:Office 2007Operating System:Windows XP
XP Professional SP3. Outlook 2007 (though the problem started with 2003 and upgrading didn't resolve it).

When I click on Outlook shortcuts or even the Outlook executable in Program Files or on desktop or anywhere, nothing happens. The ONLY way to open Outlook is to go to run and type outlook /recycle and enter and then it opens and functions normally. Typing outlook or outlook.exe alone without the switch does nothing. I don't remember how I discovered the switch when it first occurred (well over a year ago - maybe two) but I'm tired of having to open Outlook this way. I've used this same Office Enterprise 2007 disk on several different machines running XP and Vista both (using the proper product keys from the other packages but keeping those disks unused in case I ever need to replace this one - so it isn't anything on the disk itself) and it works fine on those other computers. The fact that it started in 2003 before even upgrading support this as well. In fact, both 2003 and 2007 versions worked fine on those other computers but not this one - so it isn't the version or the disks or even the OS version. I tried to fix it when it first started in Outlook 2003 but had same results (just didn't ask for help then - should have done System Restore but wasn't as knowledgeable about computers at the time).

Adding /recycle to the target in the shortcut results in an error message "unrecognized switch" - even though it works in run. This is also true with Quick start icon which simply gives error (since it seems to automatically add the switch when placed there).

Repair makes no difference.

Uninstalling and re-installing Outlook (even the entire Office Suite (Enterprise)) makes no difference. I've even done it using Revo and that didn't make any difference either.

Creating new shortcurts (directly or from the program file) makes no difference. Putting shortcuts in Quick Start makes no difference.

Scanned with Malwarebytes, Microsoft Malicious Software Tool, Pandasoft, MSE, OneCare, Avast and HijackMe - nothing significant (a few tracking cookies) detected. I'm thinking of trying Combofix but I really don't know how to read that output very well and know it's a bit dangerous if not used properly. MSE is normal software with Malwarebytes run about monthly or so. All other software removed properly after testing with removal tools where applicable - never had more than one installed at the same time (except Malwarebytes which I never removed once installed but have set to scan only on command).

SFC /scannow comes up no integrity violations found. Chkdsk /f /r comes up clean. Problem occurs in Safe Mode and in Clean Mode. Problem occurs whether or not security software (see above) is activated or deactivated. Startup repair detects no problems. Event viewer shows no errors - clicking the icons simply doesn't work (no error messages, no event recorded, nothing).

What is /recycle and why does that work in run but not in a shortcut (I mean, I know technically what it is from looking it up, but WHY is it the only way to get Outlook to open and why does it only work from the run command and not when inserted into a shortcut)? Why is it necessary at all (it isn't on any of my other computers)? How do i get shortcuts to work (or even the program executable file itself - with or without the switch)? Is there some entry in the registry causing this (I'm a systems engineer and comfortable with the registry but can find nothing to change to resolve the problem)?

All other programs (including all other Office programs) work fine and all other shortcuts work fine. Ran LNK and EXE association fixes - no change.

Have not tried system repair/upgrade on XP - seems a bit too radical (not willing to try and be forced to uninstall installed SPs and re-install hundreds of updates and the SPs unless someone can provide documentation of this problem being caused by XP and that this will solve it) and anyway can't see how XP could be the cause as it works fine on other XP computers. And if XP, why only Outlook and no other programs? It doesn't make sense. I know it sounds like malware but I have checked as noted above and found nothing (and have never had to remove any trojans or any major infections from the system since first purchased).

I'm open to suggestions. I'd really like to know what /recycle does and why that makes it work (and is the only thing that makes it work).

Thanks in advance for your assistance. If I can provide any additional information, just ask.
 
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