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On the 'windows task manager' 'processes' tab it will show you how much cpu usage is used by various processes running on your computer. Look for anything running other than 'system idle process' that has an unusually large number in the 'cpu' field.
Do you have this problem in safe mode?
Have a look in the windows event viewer / logs if you know how to as they will tell you if anything is going wrong with software.
Is there any other symptoms other than a 100% CPU?
Is the computer accessing the hard drive much when there is a 100% CPU? [some computers have a ficking light at the front]
Is the computer making abnormal sounds?
Have you installed / installed any software recently?
Do you have an up to date virus checker?
Do you have windows firewall or other firewalls on?
How new is the computer?
spybot search and destroy
and run a few antivirus products, other than the one you are running now. At least 2 or 3 more.
You probably have some rootkits installed too, those are much harder to detect.
This is a classic symptom. Start menu has nothing to do with this stuff, it's just some shortcuts. taskbar, sometimes, if you let every program you installed put itself there, which if you're like most users you did.