Recently CMD windows pop up when executing platform IO tasks in VS Code

Hi there! New to the forum.

Recently I (re-)installed VS Code, platformio extension and ESP-IDF for ESP32 development. Which worked ok in the past.
Now, when compiling or cleaning or anything from the platform IO project tasks, there is no output in the terminal as was usual.
Several cmd windows pop up and disappear which seem to execute platformio.exe from the command line. Finally - in the terminal - the whole process failes with exit code 1.

What gives??