Windows 8 apps won’t open? Here’s the fix.

I’ve just returned from Microsoft’s BUILD Conference in Anaheim, where I had a chance to spend some hands-on time with the Windows Developer Preview release that’s now available online. (As an aside, did you notice that the number 8 is not in the name?. My first look, “Windows 8 unveiled,” was based on hands-on experience with a loaner Samsung tablet that Microsoft allowed journalists (like me) to use for the week.

I returned that unit to the press room on Thursday morning before leaving (don’t worry – I kept a slew of screen shots and a few photos to document the experience)

Now that I’m home, I’ve been performing test installs on some hardware here and monitoring Windows 8 chatter on the newsgroups and on Twitter. A number of people are running into a common problem: the new Metro-style Windows 8 apps—the full-screen “immersive” ones—won’t open when you click their tile on the Start screen.

In every case I’ve seen so far, the cause of this problem is a screen resolution that is set below the minimum screen resolution for Windows 8: 1024×768. This appears to be especially likely to happen if you’re running in a windowed virtual machine or on a netbook with limited graphics hardware.

The real issue is the lack of an error message, which I suspect will be added in the next public release. Meanwhile, the fix is to bump up the resolution to a minimum of 1024 wide and 768 high. As soon as you do that, those apps should start working properly. On some graphics hardware, you might be able to adjust the resolution so a value beyond the native resolution of the device. You’ll find instructions in this thread at Microsoft’s Windows 8 forums.

Update: Before you install the Windows Developer Preview, you should check the system requirements. They include the following:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch
  • To run Metro style Apps, you need a screen resolution of 1024 X 768 or greater

If you plan to test the OS in a virtual environment, I recommend reading this blog post: Running Windows 8 Developer Preview in a virtual environment.