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Getting around 0x80073cfb errors after installing Windows 8.1 Preview

As an attendee of the //build/ conference, I received a Surface Pro and an Acer Iconia W3, along with a USB drive with the Windows 8.1 Preview update for each device. After installing 8.1, Windows Store on the Surface Pro showed that there a bunch of apps that needed updates. So I updated them all and it failed to update five of the apps:

  • Reader
  • Windows Alarms
  • Windows Calculator
  • Windows Reading List
  • Windows Sound Recorder
Under the app name, there was the message “This app wasn’t installed – view details.”. When you click on the message, a dialog would come up with the following message:

Something happened and this app couldn’t be installed. Please try again. Error code: 0x80073cb

You got two buttons, “Try again” and “Cancel install”.

Each one reported reported the same error code 0x80073cfb. That error code is defined as ERROR_PACKAGE_ALREADY_EXISTS (see here) and it basically means that something is wrong with the app signature. It kind of matches, but not exactly and Windows doesn’t know how to proceed.

“We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
The simplest way around this is to uninstall the version that is already on the machine and then install it again from the Windows Store. It’s annoying, but doesn’t take that long. I did it the following way:

  1. Run the Windows Store app and have it try to update the apps
  2. Get the errors and while on the “Installing apps” screen, then press the Win key to get back the Metro screen
  3. Start typing the app name.  When the app appears, do a long press to get the options menu and select uninstall.
  4. Go back to the Windows Store app and click on the app that you deleted.  You’ll see the “Something happened” dialog, click the “Try again” button.
  5. The app should install without any problems now.

I would love to find a way to script this with Power Shell. What would be nice would be if the Windows Store app would give you an uninstall/reinstall option when it encounters 0x80073cfb errors. I’m not the only person seeing this and it’s happening with the Acer, just with a different set of apps. On Acer, it gets that error with these apps:

  • Windows Alarms
  • Bing Food & Drink
  • Help & Tips
  • Bing Health & Fitness
  • Windows Reading List

There is some overlap, but only with 2 of the apps. With the Acer, I found that if I burned Alarms, Help, and Reading List, the Bing apps installed normally. I also had the same problem with the HP Envy 23 that I bought last December. I had to burn the village to save the village on that machine too.

The burning village image comes from The Witcher 3 Set, from the Flickr feed of Gameranx.