Windows 11 warning: system restore is breaking some PCs

Windows 11 users on the latest version 22H2 of the operating system should be wary of a bug that is messing up some important apps after a system restore has been performed.

Bleeping Computer pointed out this development, which is discussed in a Microsoft support post about the problem where affected users encounter a ‘this app can’t open’ error message with some core Windows applications.

The error pops up after reverting your PC to a past system restore point, and it hits some apps that use the MSIX Windows package format.

That includes Notepad, Paint, Microsoft Office, Cortana, Terminal, and possibly other Windows apps, Microsoft observes. But note that some applications which use the MSIX format remain fine.

As well as the aforementioned error message, users may also experience other glitches, including an I/O error followed by the app freezing up and then crashing. Furthermore, an affected program may simply fail to work when you double-click to start it, and it could be the case that an application ends up with multiple entries on the Start menu.

Analysis: Will Microsoft investigate the curious case of the mysterious errors?

Microsoft gives no indication that it’s preparing a fix or further investigating the problem here. We assume that’s the case, but there’s no mention of this (and typically with bugs like this, there would be). Instead, Microsoft offers up a number of possible workarounds for those experiencing issues.

The first of which is basically that old favorite ‘turn it off, then on again’; simply start the app up again and it might work fine, second time lucky. Alternatively, reinstalling the application could resolve the errors (which is basically an expanded form of ‘turn off, turn on’ of course).

Or the final recourse is to run Windows Update, though we aren’t told why this might help. Presumably if there’s an update for the app in question, or a cumulative update for Windows pending, this might knock something loose in the system that helps (if the wind is blowing in the right direction and so forth).

Hopefully Microsoft is actively looking into this bug, because it sounds quite annoying for the proportion of users that might be affected. Restoring your system is a rare course of action to be forced to take, but in cases where necessary, it is hardly avoidable – and there’s bound to be quite a bit of restoring going on across a relatively large user base such as that of Windows 11 22H2. And with Office being potentially affected, that could be pretty frustrating for those trying to get work done.

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