Windows 10 V1903: Settings/Apps fails after Windows 7 Upgrade

[German]When upgrading from Windows 7 SP1 to Windows 10 version 1903 (probably the same for version 1909), users are facing serious issues afterwards. The Settings page and the Windows apps can’t no longer be opened. There are many suggestions on the Internet, but they rarely work. A blog reader sent me his findings, which might help further.


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Blog reader Markus B. had already pointed out the topic to me in mid-August 2018, but I basted it. While cleaning up my inbox I came across the hint again (nothing gets lost). So today I’m going to update it later, because I assume that soon a number of company computers with exactly this constellation will have to be updated to Windows 10.

What’s the problem?

The scenario applies to computers on which Windows 7 SP1 is installed, but which should then be upgraded to Windows 10 Version 1903 (or 1909) using an in-place upgrade. An Inplace Upgrade helps to keep the settings and programs. Markus wrote:

In the course of switching many company computers from Win7 to Win10 using an Inplace Upgrades, I again encountered a problem that did not allow me to find a suitable solution on the Internet.

Markus gave me the following information about the details of his enterprise computers to be updated with Windows 7 SP1:

The condition: Various Windows 7 systems that show no abnormalities. The Inplace Upgrade will be made with current ISOs 1903 [and the upgrades] also seem to work fine.

Actually a common process used by administrators in enterprises. Since there are no error messages, an administrator might assume that everything is fine with the installed Windows 10. But Markus says.

After completion of the Win 10 installation, the Windows settings (WIN+I, or via the start menu) can no longer be opened. Shortcuts (ms-settings:display etc…) don’t work either.

For example, the display settings cannot be opened by right-clicking Desktop > Display Settings.

So the Windows 10 shell is quite broken after the Inplace Upgrade has been executed. This can’t be related to the patchday problems with the start menu, because they only occurred after August 2019 and Markus’ info refers to earlier dates. What’s even stranger is that depending on which method the user chooses, the result will be different:


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  • WIN + I: The Settings window will be shows a short frame, but the window closes immediately 
  • isplay settings via desktop: Popup message: “File system error (-2147163901)”
  • WIN+R and „ms-settings:display“ provides an error message: The file is not assigned a program to execute this action.

On the one hand, this shows that in the GUI of the Windows 10 shell no clean error check is performed internally in some code parts, otherwise consistent error messages would have to be displayed.

Many hits on the web, solutions don’t help

Markus pointed out in his mail that the error is described on different websites. In this Microsoft Answers forum thread the whole thing is discussed by many users. Other entries may be found in threads from German Microsoft Answers here and here. In some cases it helped, to create a second administrator account (should work via Control Panel or netplwiz from an administrator account). Within the Internet the following fixes are proposed:

To enter the PowerShell command to repair the settings in an administrative console (right-click the Start button and select the shortcut menu command), do the following (see):

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

Let’s hope it works and doesn’t break more than it repairs. If the store is stuck, the command:

PowerShell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Command “& {$manifest = (Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.WindowsStore).InstallLocation + ‘\AppxManifest.xml’ ; Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $manifest}”

to be executed. Then repeat the first PowerShell command. However, blog reader Markus writes that these approaches have not helped him so far. .

Root cause and Solution

Markus was wondering about the obversation, that when a user is newly created, it works to open the Settings page and the apps, whilst the the original account however fails with the errors. So it might be a user-related issue, something is not set up properly during the upgrade. Since the default answer ‘reinstall Windows 10’ is not practicable in his company environment, he has started to look for a solution. He used Progmon from Sysinternals. It took him a few hours, but he finally found the solution. .

Markus wrote that an Inplace Upgrade subkey in the HKCU branch of the registry doesn’t seem to work correctly (which also explains why it works for a new user). It’s about this registry branch:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

The ProcessMonitor reports during initializing the SystemSettings.exe (located within the folder C:\Windows\ImmersiveControlPanel): ACCESS DENIED. The shell process that tries to option the Settings page therefore cannot access the key. A “full access – everyone” of the registry key added to the test solved the issue immediately and is reproducible. The Settings page could be opened afterward without problems. Perhaps it helps affected users. Thanks to Markus for his hint.

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