The problem appeared to be when accessing the contents of a settings file. The file had invalid entries. This file is CurrentSettings-. The fix for this is as shown below:
- On the server Go to start menu–>Your profile–>Documents–>SQL Server Management Studio–>Settings (this is the location of the file specified above)
- Delete all files from this folder
- Restart sqlserver services
- Launch the SSMS and this error is gone. You will be able to expand all the folders and perform regular SSMS activities without this error.