As much as I love Windows 10, sometimes it can be a real pain in the ass. I lost an entire evening of productivity this week after I hit the dreaded “App won’t open…” issue.
This is where you’ll try to run one of the native Windows 10 apps (Calc, Photos, Store, etc) but instead of loading you’ll get an error across the screen saying “App won’t open. Please contact your system administrator to repair or reinstall the application” or something to that effect. It’s incredibly frustrating because there isn’t even any meaningful data in the Windows Event Viewer to help you pinpoint the issue.
There are many guides out there but this one from Windowsreport is the only one that covers troubleshooting and resolving the issue from start to finish.
In my case, the problem was that these steps did NOT fix my “App won’t open” issue. Actually, I lie. The final step in the guide is to create a brand new user account and then copy your files over to that. I wasn’t willing to do that so I don’t know if it will actually resolve the problem. I feel like that’s a crappy workaround that I shouldn’t have to resort to anyway.
I ended up getting on Microsoft web support chat to see if I could get a Microsoft tech to fix the issue. After an hour and a half, the tech from the Philippines was actually able to resolve the problem! (I’ll add that he was such an incredibly nice guy, I was super impressed. Just fantastic support!).
The Solution – Windows 10 Media Creation Tool
Surprisingly, he went through pretty much every step in the Windowsreport guide (unfortunately to no avail). There was only one thing left he could apparently recommend: perform a Windows 10 Upgrade Reinstallation.
Using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool (download here) you can prepare your system to “upgrade to Windows 10” like we did when we upgraded for free from Windows 7 or 8. Essentially what we did was reinstall a fresh, updated copy of Windows 10 over the top of my current, corrupt install. All of the system files were written over with fresh copies leaving me with, effectively, a brand new installation from a Windows system point of view but not from the user end.
My personal files, folders, applications and preferences were left intact.
That was key. I wasn’t willing to do this without his guarantee my docs would be left alone. Sure enough, when you run the Media Creation Tool, prior to committing to the upgrade, it gives you a check box asking whether you want to preserve files and folders (automatically ticked).
- Create a system restore point and backup your data (Always do a backup before performing any work like this!).
- Download and run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. It will only proceed if you have a legitimate Windows licence.
- Choose the “Upgrade this PC now” option.
- It’ll download Windows 10 with the latest updates over the next hour (hopefully quicker if you’ve got a speedy connection!).
- Continue through the Wizard. Ensure you’ve ticked the Preserve files and folders box before installation.
- Close all of your other applications and work.
- Click Install.
- Your PC will reboot and installation will eventually complete.
- Windows 10 will start up as if it was a fresh installation.
- Your account username and password should stay the same.
- Login and confirm all of your files and folders are still intact.
Upgrade Reinstall vs Creating a New User Account
In all honesty, creating a new user account may not be very different to performing the upgrade install behind the scenes. My problem is that we don’t know exactly what’s causing this corruption of Windows in the first place.
I find it much more comforting to perform the upgrade because we’re blowing everything away and refreshing it with new, clean files. When we create a user account we’re only creating new user related files. All underlying Windows files are still the same, as evidenced by my experience. It wasn’t just my user account that had this issue. All accounts on my PC were affected.
As this corruption was apparently random, there’s no telling how soon it’ll return. My hope is that Upgrade Reinstalling Windows 10 completely (rather than just creating a new account) will extend my corruption-free period. Hopefully. Knock on wood…