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Windows Store apps, Metro apps, Windows 8 crAPPs, whatever you call them—you still have to support them. Occasionally, these Windows Store apps won’t work. They might crash while loading, fail to download data, or just disappear. The first step in troubleshooting a Windows Store app is establishing the scope of the issue.
The three common scopes are: per user, per machine, and per app. Because of the way Windows Store apps install, issues with them are often isolated to just a single user. In cases like this, using PowerShell to uninstall the app or removing the user profile will fix the issue.
Often, changes made to the machine can break Windows Store apps as well. This is normally a file security issue. Finally, you might have a particular Windows Store app that does not work across your entire domain. These issues are normally caused by system-wide Group Policy changes. Test a failing app under multiple users and on multiple machines to determine scope of the issue.
To show how to troubleshoot a Windows Store app, we will walk through our repair of the SkyDrive Windows Store app (Note: The app hasn't yet been renamed to OneDrive).
Windows 8 Windows Store app splash screen crash
Once you know the scope of the issue, your next step is to determine if the Windows Store app is actually starting. While a Windows Store app is preparing to run, a temporary splash screen should be displayed.
The SkyDrive Windows Store app preparing to start
If the splash screen isn’t displayed, the app is not even starting. In most cases, this is caused by overzealous security applications such as AppLocker or software restrictions.
You can use the GPResult /H command or the AppLocker PowerShell module to test for potential blocking. Windows Store apps use the .APPX file extension. Keep this in mind when searching your GPResults and PowerShell output. In many cases, disabling these security settings will allow the app to run.
Using the event log to find Windows Store app errors
When our user reported that SkyDrive would not start, I ruled out AppLocker and Software Restriction Policies pretty quickly. After that, I investigated a few event logs that can help with troubleshooting.
The two primary logs of interest can be found in Event Viewer\Applications and Services Logs\Microsoft\Windows. They are named:
Together, they are responsible for loading tiles, recording start/running events and app errors, and so on. Both of these event logs have useful but cryptic errors. A search engine will be required to understand any Critical or Error events that you receive. In my case, these errors did not seem to be related to my SkyDrive issue.
Windows Store app failed to start.
Permissions required for Windows Store apps to run
So far, we have searched down two possible routes to troubleshoot our SkyDrive Windows Store app. It is time to check our machines for proper permissions. Windows Store apps are run on the principle ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES. On an unaltered Windows 8+ installation, this principle receives the following permissions:
C:\Windows – Read/Execute
C:\Program Files, C:\Program Files (x86) – Read/Execute
ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES needs Read/Execute permissions to Program Files
The ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES principle always receives read permission to the following registry keys and hives:
Creating an isolation environment
If file permissions aren’t the culprit, it is time to isolate a machine into a dedicated OU. Once in the dedicated OU, I can enable Block Inheritance and ensure that the computer is not getting any Enforced GPOs.
Creating an isolated environment to test Group Policy changes.
Any machine will need to reboot twice. After the reboots, the SkyDrive Windows Store app started. From here, it is just a matter of relinking GPOs until we find the offending policy. To make it easier, I linked GPOs in batches.
Once we found the offending GPO, I looked for settings that could be related. Settings related to user profiles stuck out to me. And, sure enough, one of them was the culprit! The exact setting that stopped SkyDrive from working was Prohibit User from Manually Redirecting Profile Folders. After changing the setting back to Not Configured, my Windows Store app was fixed!
Have you experienced issues with Windows Store apps? If so, how have you repaired them?