Links don’t work, URLs don’t open in Windows 8

I have a strange issue in Windows® 8, and Windows® 8.1 update hasn’t solved it. (It is either related or not to the other issue I have regarding file libraries.)

On my machine (originally upgraded from Windows 7), at least on two user profiles, the hyperlinks from any Windows Store app, including those from the standard apps installed together with Windows, even from the Store app that allows me to get more apps, do NOT open the browser (Modern UI Internet Explorer) as expected. The links are clickable but do, virtually, nothing.

For example, in the Store app, clicking any app’s Author Web site or Terms of use links there would result in no action. No error shown in the Event logs either.

To test further, I tried developing a small Windows 8.1 app that simply calls LaunchUriAsync for “http://microsoft.com” URL, from a Button.Click event handler:

private async void Button_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    bool r = await Launcher.LaunchUriAsync(new Uri(
https://microsoft.com));
    MyButton.Content = r.ToString();
}

Guess what. The output is “False”, i.e. the LaunchUriAsync eventually returns false, although it should open the browser for that URL since it is using the HTTP protocol. From MSDN documentation for that method I can see that the API itself is unable to open the URL, and this is why it returns false. But it gives no other clue regarding what is wrong, unfortunately.

The app manifest for the app does include the Internet (client) capability listed, and even adding all related capabilities (Internet Client & Server, and Private Networks Client & Server) do not solve the problem.

And I need to mention that I did run the Windows Store apps troubleshooter but it didn’t find nor resolve the actual issue either.

Using the desktop mode there is no problem opening any URL using HTTP protocol, even from a simple shortcut. Desktop Internet Explorer browser opens in all those cases, as expected, as it’s the default browser set for the system. Moreover, in Default Programs, I have specifically checked that HTTP protocol is set to open with Internet Explorer browser, but I’m afraid all these settings are only for the desktop mode anyway.

Modern UI seems to be governed by some other registry settings, that I’m unaware of. And something must be broken for the Windows Store apps there. Hmm….

Update: Thanks to a suggestion in a recent post from a Microsoft Answers discussion, I have now been able to resolve the issue completely.

To resolve the problem, use Regedit and delete this key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID (make a backup first). Then sign out and in again, or reboot. Links can now be open from Windows 8 apps correctly!

Note that deleting the CLSID key from HKEY_CURRENT_USER will clean up the current settings for the current user profile only, and will not affect the entire machine settings. However, based on further referenced readings on eightforums.com (indicated in the discussion), it seems that to resolve the URL issue alone, the specific key you need to delete inside CLSID is: {871C3580-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}. That class ID seems to be related to an older Windows Explorer extension that allowed to open a Web folder inside the process.

However, other CLSID entries might affect other things, and by removing only that specific key, you would solve only the specific URL opening issue. For example, I have had some other issues with Windows Libraries too not being accessible by Windows 8 apps (although they were accessible from Desktop apps), but deleting the entire CLSID key resolved those issues too!

Finally, I’ve re-added some of the keys in the backup of the CLSID, i.e. only those with keys with actual values for sub-keys. After that everything still works, and I have no fear that any real personal settings are removed.

Don’t forget to repeat these steps for all affected user profiles.

About Sorin Dolha

My passion is software development, but I also like physics.
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Links don’t work, URLs don’t open in Windows 8

  1. Pingback: Resolved: some Windows 8 apps wouldn’t open or had runtime issues, libraries couldn’t be read, and URLs wouldn’t open | Sorin Dolha's Blog

  2. 2. After Windows Store opens up, click on the Updates link to see which apps needs an update.

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