Have you ever gotten and error like this?
Well, I have, and it means max will not start up correctly. After many hours trying to locate the problem I found the cause. The max default .mnu file got corrupted.
Go into your user settings folder (If your not aware of this folder, max creates this for you and all your local settings are stored here.) This folder is slightly different on different operating systems. I am running Vista (Don't ask why, but it runs fine)
User Settings Folder - C:\Users\fredr\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsmax\2011 - 32bit\enu\UI
Once there, simply delete your MaxStartUI.mnu. Next time you start max, it will notice the missing file and pull one from the program files location. I have saved my .mnu file now so that when this happens again. (And I'm sure it will...) I'll have it ready.