Is Explorer.exe required to run Universal Apps? RRS feed

  • Question

  • On Windows 10 I replaced the default shell (explorer.exe) with my own custom shell.

    However, without explorer.exe no Universal app (like Edge or SystemSettings) is able to run.

    Is there a way to improve my custom shell to make Universal Apps work or is there an absolute need for explorer.exe to run Universal Apps?

    To be precise, its about starting the SystemSettings Universal App. Once the app is started you can kill explorer in Task Manager and the app is still running fine. But starting the SystemSettings app without explorer is not currently possible.

    Thank you.

    Monday, July 9, 2018 10:51 AM

All replies

  • To you an application as the sole app, the Assigned access feature is recommended. Explorer runs in the background and is not seen. 

    I am going to move the post to the Windows IoT forum so others can respond.

    Sean Liming - Book Author: Starter Guide Windows 10 IoT Enterprise - www.annabooks.com / www.seanliming.com

    Monday, July 9, 2018 6:49 PM
  • Hi Oxpeanuts,

    It is not possible to launch a Universal app from a custom shell. This is explicitly called out in the Shell docs. 

    Shell Launcher


    I hope this helps,


    Windows SDK Technologies - Microsoft Developer Services - http://blogs.msdn.com/mediasdkstuff/

    Tuesday, July 10, 2018 11:37 PM
  • Hi,

    I remarked today that not only Explorer.exe is required to *start* a UWP app, but it's also required to be kept alive during all that application life.

    For example, if you start Calc (which is now a UPW app), and then kill explorer.exe, then Calc stays there, hosed. Nothing is displayed anymore on it, you cannot interact with and you cannot close it. Then if you restart explorer.exe, it kinda unlocks the hosed Calc that just goes away. This is the same with all UWP apps I tried.

    So it looks all UWP apps need explorer.exe running all along. Do you happen to know if this is documented anywhere and the reason for this hard dependency?


    Simon Mourier

    Thursday, November 28, 2019 8:20 AM