I am looking for assistance with fixing a family members computer. He was trying to solve a computer problem on a laptop running windows 7 that was preventing their external cd drive on their laptop from working, and googled what to do and saw a recommendation to install winrar and use it for something. Hegoogled winrar and installed it. He lost the ability to open programs from his quick launch bar or start menu at this point. For example the Google Chrome button became blank, although if he right clicked it, he had all the correct menus come up, and most of them still worked (but not for all his other programs).
I assume that he downloaded a malware infected copy of WinRar, but A) an hour searching the internet didn't pop up similar cases, which made me think this might be more unusual and even if so, I am not 100% sure how to get his applications to work again so as to proceed with cleaning his computer out.
Given that he was actively having problems with his computer before this happened, I figured there might be overlapping issues, so I am looking for advice on how to go about troubleshooting his issues.
Thanks for any help.
PS: I have several screenshots of his issue, but didn't want to post them or link to them because A) the rules didn't really mention that one way or another and I browsed a few topics and no one else had, so I figured it is perhaps not accepted.