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The start menu option "Start database" is really a call to StartDB.bat (in bin directory).
On win 7 (and others), this needs to be run under a elevated privs command prompt. You could right click and Run as administrator or open a command prompt in this way (run as..) and just call startdb bat file.
This is a known issue, per [url http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E17781_01/doc.112/e21743/toc.htm#CIABHHDG]Readme, 2.2.3.