What to do if your Windows 8 Modern App fails to start

What to do if your Windows 8 Modern App fails to start

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Good morning AskPerf!  David Alessi here from the Windows 8 client team.  One of the biggest support issues we’ve seen is with Windows 8 Store (formerly Metro/Modern) Apps failing to start.  This post is going to cover some of the most common issues that users run into, and how to troubleshoot them.

When troubleshooting Windows 8 Apps, first establish whether or not the App is starting at all.  When a Windows 8 App is first clicked the first thing that appears is the splash screen for that particular App.  For example:

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The splash screen is a solid color page typically with the App’s logo on it.  When the App is first clicked, Windows is responsible for running the splash screen while the App gets ready to run.  If the splash screen is briefly displayed and then closes, this means that Windows is opening the splash screen but the App is not starting.

  • When the splash screen is displayed and then closes, we could be looking a permissions problem, group policy setting, or something configured in the Windows Firewall service - all of which could cause the start screen to not display Apps that should be there
  • When an App starts properly and cannot access local resources,  NTFS file permissions should be checked
  • If the App starts properly but cannot access network resources, then a likely cause is the Windows 8 App’s inability to work with authenticated proxies
  • If the splash screen is never shown, it’s possible that there’s an Application control setting/tool in place.  For example, a Microsoft Software restriction and/or Applocker.  Both of these Microsoft technologies are deployed with group policy.
  • Apps missing from the start screen can be caused by any of the issues covered in this article, just step through the causes one at a time

Now that I’ve laid out some common causes I’ll go over how to fix each of issues above.

To start there are a few logs that can help you narrow down on the issue. I typically start with logs when only a certain app or apps are acting up (as opposed to all of them). If this is the case, make sure to give uninstall/reinstall a shot, or at least update to the latest version of the application.

The uninstall option is accessed by right clicking an app,

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And updates are managed through the store.

The first log I’ll mention is %TEMP%\winstore.log

Winstore.log tracks update and install information for your applications, if you are having issues after an install or update this would be a good place to look first.

The other logs that can be helpful are located in your event log, easiest way to get there is to type “eventvwr” with your start screen open. Run it as an administrator.

With event viewer open navigate to: Event Viewer>Applications and Services Logs>Microsoft>Windows

Logs of interest

  • AppModel-Runtime: Issues starting, running, terminating apps, does not report most issues. Events are generic.
  • Apps: Start screen operations, most Windows 8 app issues will show up here, although the errors are not always informative.
  • AppXDeployment and AppXDeployment-Server: Appx refers to the Windows 8 Store app type, as they are .appx file types. These logs track issues during install, deployment, update, and uninstall.

There are more logs that track Windows 8 app information, I’m not going to go over them because I have not found them helpful but to name a few: All-User-Install-Agent, AppHost, AppxPackagingOM, PackageState-Roaming, PushNotifications-Platform, and Store-Licensing.

Group policy

The easiest way to test if group policy is the issue is to test behavior of a fresh machine.  That is, using the image and deployment process where you determined there was an issue in the first place (MDT, PXE, etc.).

  • Do NOT join the machine to the domain at this point
  • If the machine still does not work post-deployment, pre-domain joined, then we could possibly be looking at something wrong in the image
  • If the App works soon after it’s joined to the Domain, then breaks after a reboot, a group policy setting could be the culprit

If you suspect that a group policy setting is breaking the App, then the following steps should be performed on the problem machine and/or user session:

  • Elevated CMD Prompt: “Gpresult /h gpreport.html /user <DOMAINNAME>\<USERNAME>”
    • Registry and file system permissions can be set via group policy so search your group policy reports for changes
    • Make note of any Services modified by Group Policy, especially Windows Firewall - if Windows Firewall is disabled then Windows 8 Apps will not work
    • Look for “software restriction”, “Application control” or “Applocker settings”
      • All 3 of these can be configured to block Applications using certain file extensions.  Windows 8 Apps use the .Appx extension which is not present in previous versions of Windows

When applocker is responsible for blocking an application, the user is typically presented with the prompt “This app has been blocked by you system administrator” however, this is not always the case.

To verify whether applocker is causing you issues open your event log and open:

Application and Services Logs>Microsoft>Windows>Applocker

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  • Applocker will report events when it blocks apps so you can check here to verify, a blocked app will show up as an 8022

Permissions

As mentioned above, file system permissions, whether in the image, in a logon/startup script, or in group policy, can affect Windows 8 Store Apps.

In Windows 8, there is a new principle used to run Windows 8 Apps - ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES. To check for this principle: right-click on a folder or file in the file system>Properties>Security Tab>Advanced.

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Here you can see a list of all security principles on that location and their permissions. Notice ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES at the bottom.

ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES need the following permissions to execute properly:

  • Read & execute, List folder contents and Read in the following locations
    • C:\Windows
    • C:\Program Files (x86)
    • C:\Program Files
  • List folder and read data, Create Folders and Append Data
    • C:\Users\<userName>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WER
  • Read
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Drivers
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM
    • HKEY_USERS

Other Causes

The other major issues with Windows 8 Store Apps are authenticated proxies.  Windows 8 Apps do not have the architecture built in to pass credentials, cookies, certificates or any other authentication methods to proxies – which will fail when loading.  Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • Applications will start but not be able to connect to resources on the internet
  • You may be able to browse the Store, however downloads will fail, “App couldn’t be installed” or something similar
  • Other generic network related errors, not connected to internet, no network connection, problems checking for updates

This issue has been fixed in 8.1 but if you really want to know before committing to an upgrade collect a netmon trace from the client while attempting to access internet resources in a Windows 8 App.

  • Once collected, filter the trace on “http”
  • You will see the client initiating HTTP GET requests and the server repeatedly responding with “proxy authentication required”
  • Typically, the client will initiate a GET request, the server will send a “proxy authentication required” the client with authenticate and function normally
  • With windows 8 Apps you will see “proxy authentication required” several times

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Here is the KB detailing this known issue and it’s workarounds: Using authenticated proxy servers together with Windows 8.

Lastly, the Windows Firewall service needs to be set to automatic and running for Windows 8 Store Apps to work.  It’s also required for a lot of other functionality in Windows 8 and so should not be turned off for any reason.

If you use a 3rd party Firewall product, then we recommend to configure Windows Firewall to not block any inbound or outbound traffic.

Finally, if all other steps fail, you can try clearing the Windows Store cache by running the following command:

WSRESET.EXE

Additional Resources

-David

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  • This is much needed. Thanks!

  • Very useful and detailed, nicely written

  • Good article, but what do you do when wsreset.exe fails to work because the store app and every other part of the modern UI in Windows 8.1 won't run?

  • No modern apps were launching, I finally got further, and the Store launched. Any app the Store couldn't fix, I deleted. (PS script and wsreset)

    Now all my new Modern apps work, but none of the default ones are installed anymore, and the immersive control panel apps won't launch.

  • powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore\AppxManifest.xml

    From http://blogs.msdn.com/b/notime/archive/2013/10/18/fix-store-app-in-windows-8-1.aspx

    this got my Store to open again. Didn't fix default apps or ICP, but new apps now work.

  • Thanks! I found that ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES was not listed for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT as a user. I added it and set it to Read, clicked applied, and it worked.

  • I've run all of these and still can't get it to work.....Thanks Microsoft!

  • onn my start screen I can either click internet explorer music or the store and the screen goes black 1 second to start the app then it closes. anybody no how to fix this//

  • Where Could I find those files? HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Drivers HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM HKEY_USERS

  • when iam trying to open any app iam getting a error "the app dint start" can any one help me solve it

  • dude nothing listed here works

  • That's all very informative for the techo but how is an average user supposed to digest the above !

  • It's the second time in a month that my apps refuse to launch. The first time, reapplying failed updates and rebooting magically fixed the problem. Today I again find third party apps asking me to contact administrator to reinstall, store / pc settings offering to refresh my PC if I want to use them. It is nice of David to put instructions for how to fix this issue. But let's put this in perspective. If I buy a TV, I MIGHT go home with a certain expectation that I will be able to watch TV, or perhaps browse youtube or netflix. I certainly would NOT expect it to bomb out randomly, and then be instructed to pop it open, check that connections are tight, and re-flow some solder around critical vulnerable joints. So why does Microsoft think that the appropriate way to handle a DEFECT in Windows is to issue bizarre complex instructions that might work... maybe, for some... instead of issuing a software patch to prevent and fix the problem for all? (And let's be clear here, we are not merely dealing with lousy third party app developers writing shitty code, which I could understand and deal with). It's not that I can't spend the next few hours of the night going through all the steps, all the forum posts, and all the headache to debug and fix the problem myself. I am perfectly capable of doing that (and no, nothing on THIS page has fixed my particular instance of the problem). But I would much rather spend it working on my Arduino project, or my engine rebuild waiting in the garage, or perhaps telling a bedtime story to my six year old and getting some sleep. I bought this PC (Lenovo H520) with Windows 8 preinstalled, and although I've successfully built countless systems from parts in the past, this time I was looking for that "worry-free experience that only a ready-to-run system can provide". At this point I can honestly say that this has been the absolutely most unreliable machine I have ever used. It's not just the apps... Right after upgrading to 8.1, I was hit with the black screen login issue. That daisy-chained in having to restore the PC to the factory state (fresh windows 8). Often times, after installing updates, the Windows hangs on shutdown as it's installing updates. Every time that happens, I wonder if I'll have to reinstall once again after I force reboot. I write software for a living, used by first responders around the globe. I understand the complexities of software, but I also understand that in order to keep our customers, I cannot expect them to debug it on their own time. Microsoft (and many other large software houses) has always used their users as a test bed, and most of us have become used to it. Windows 8 has gone to a whole new level though, and MS is going to previously unimaginable lengths to alienate their user base. I really would like to like Windows 8, and at this point I've looked past all the obvious usability issues in a desktop environment (which seem to be slowly getting addressed), but I feel like every time I sit down to use it, it finds a new way to spit in my face.

  • my start screen apps not working I can either click store, internet explorer, music, game and the screen goes black 1 second to start the app then it closes. anybody no how to fix this.. how to solve issue i am tiered please help,,

  • Absolutely unhelpful, full of jargon, how do you expect even experienced people to follow this gibberish. My apps simply show correctly in small tiles on the start screen but most of the Microsoft system apps simply fail to open when clicked for no apparent reason