Fixing Broken Windows 10 Apps


Reader Sean Long submitted this tip for fixing broken Windows 10 applications. If you have a tip that will help CMR readers, let us know. And add your comments after the article.

I have another Windows 10 tip that seems to be a hot topic in help forums but doesn’t have a consistent fix.

The problem I had was I tried to bring up the default Windows calculator, and it wouldn’t run. Since I had fiddled with the default Windows 10 apps before, I figured I just needed to re-install the calculator app. When that failed, I tried to brute-force reinstall all Windows 10 default apps, and that resulted in ALL of the windows 10 apps becoming unusable.

The issue is that some of the Windows 10 apps are super annoying, so many people have been trying to uninstall one or more of the default apps. Unfortunately under the current build of Windows 10, the installer appears to be badly broken so both uninstalling and attempting to reinstall the apps can make all of the Windows 10 default apps unusable. They can’t be uninstalled, they can’t be reinstalled, they don’t work, Windows store breaks, and Microsoft considers them core components so they don’t even show up in the programs and features control panel or settings applets so you simply can’t fix them yourself.

For an example of a badly behaved windows default app, the new Windows 10 photos app will continuously attempt to scan, index, and enhance all images in all libraries. That’s great if the library is only on your local drive but if the library is located on a networked computer, it will saturate your network and thrash the remote library’s hard drive endlessly.

One unsatisfactory workaround is to go to your libraries and remove all libraries on networked drives, but you shouldn’t have to do that if the Windows default apps didn’t have these horrible and destructive behaviors set by default. So instead of removing networked libraries, you can fix the problem by removing whatever Windows app (photos was the worst for me) that is causing the problem.

Of course, many people realize after the fact that they really did want that app back. So the “magic” re-installation command that you could enter into the PowerShell program (run as administrator), as found on a dozen websites and help forums, is:

Get-AppXPackage | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

Detailed instructions can be found on many windows help forums so I won’t go into more detail than that.

Unfortunately under the current mainstream Windows 10 build (as of 16 Jan 2016), that will wreck all Windows default apps and make them unusable. Oops. There are a handful of other approaches to get around this including some registry tweaks and resetting permissions, but the bottom line is that for almost all users, attempting to uninstall or reinstall the default Windows 10 apps will likely break all of them without any way to repair or restore any of them, including the windows store. Thankfully, there is one solution, although it reminds me of buying a new car every time you need an oil change.

The solution for now is to go to the Microsoft Windows 10 installer site here: http://bit.ly/1ZC6vVG and re-run the Microsoft Windows 10 installer. It will do just what the original upgrade did, leaving your current apps and files alone and restoring any lost functionality. It can take an hour or more depending on computer and network speed, but I’ve had to do it on 2 separate computers now without any failures, using the online installer.

Did this help you? Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments. – Editor

5 comments on “Fixing Broken Windows 10 Apps

  1. One of many issues with Win 10. I gave up and went back to Win 7 so that I could get some work done. I am reminded of the old automotive scene, where the customer was the quality control. Fortunately the Japanese industry fixed that, but where are they for computer OSes???

  2. I learned of a related problem tonight. On my wife’s laptop, the start menu just stopped working. It didn’t change color when we moused over and it did not respond when clicked or when the windows key was pressed. Rebooting didn’t fix it. This was a hard freeze.

    This is apparently a known problem with Windows 10. There are a variety of solutions, so that implies it is caused by a variety of issues. The first thing to try is system file checker. In a command line:

    sfc /scannow

    Problem is you can’t do that if the start menu doesn’t work because you can’t get to the search box. Ctrl-alt-del will bring up task manager and on the file menu you can run a new task. Run Powershell as administrator and you have a command line.

    That didn’t work for us. Next solution that people have reported is to reinstall all the Windows apps, which is where the connection to this article comes up. That isn’t as bad as it sounds. We’re only talking about what used to be called Metro apps. You’re not going to have to reinstall Photoshop or anything.

    The command to do this (again entered in Powershell) is:

    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

    That worked for us. Don’t know why but it did.

    I guess after that you’d try a system restore to a point before there was a problem.

  3. Pjcamp: Did you not notice the OP’s statement on the ‘Get-AppXPackage’ command:

    “Unfortunately under the current mainstream Windows 10 build (as of 16 Jan 2016), that will wreck all Windows default apps and make them unusable. Oops.”

    Worked for you – ruins everything for the OP. Go figure…

  4. The reinstall command wrecked all my win10 apps, and it was only by chance that I read a report on some other forum (possibly microsoft’s own forums) where there were at least 2 other people reporting that the Get-AppXPackage command was borked. Maybe Microsoft fixed it already, not something they’d admit to probably, given how prevalent some of these problems seem to be in the MS forums and how the only answer they ever give is to run some troubleshooter that doesn’t actually do anything and then reinstall windows.

  5. I thought Android was a problem until I got a LTop with Win 10. Android installs lots of unnecessary apps. All can be disabled. Win 10 installs these apps and starts them running. My problem was with the default mail app. It would not allow sending from my server. MSoft did remotely remove the app.

    The point is Win 10 still needs work. The attempt of MSoft to create a one size fits all might sound like a worthwhile goal. But, to create problems for the base in the process does not seem like a good idea to me.

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