Microsoft error: This application has failed to start because ...

Posted on 2011-10-09
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi Experts -

Any time i try to run a Microsoft Office app (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc) I am getting the following error.
"This application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect.  Reinstalling the application may fix this problem."

This all started after I installed RealPlayer for a work project.  

Looking up this error on the net, I found many people saying that just reinstalling the app was doing nothing for them.

Many successful recommendations were to reinstall the Visual C++ runtimes.  So I tried installing the VS C++ runtime for 2005 and tested, both before and after re-booting.  No change.  Then 2008, but same result.  Finally I tried the VS C++ runtime for 2010.  That didn't do anything either.

I don't have the CD's for the office installation.  They came with an MSDN subscription that has since lapsed, and I don't know the key used for the installation or whether it would even work anymore.  But since re-installing Office doesn't seem to solve the problem for anyone else anyway, I am wondering if that would be a useless exercise in any case.

Also, other apps not by Microsoft are failing as well, following the RealPlayer install.  E.g., one app fails with a .NET error message (which I have asked about in a separate question.)  So that is another reason I don't think that just reinstalling Office will make the problem go away.  

I have since uninstalled Realplayer (and rebooted), but no difference.  Also, I ran Malwarebytes just in case realplayer installed some virus, but there was only one item which has been cleaned up and Malwarebytes now runs clean.  (And I did have Norton 360 running the whole time and it never saw anything either.)

Any suggestions for fixing this problem?


Question by:ee_reach
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    by:Daniel Wilson
    Have you tried a System Restore just before the point of the RealPlayer installation?  That would undo RealPlayer, but should undo the problem ... and give you a relatively clean starting point.
    LVL 8

    Author Comment

    That is a good suggestion.  I have never done a system restore, but I see that 12% of my disk is reserved for that, so I will try that and let you know.  Thanks very much, DanielWilson!
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    by:Daniel Wilson
    What version of Windows are you running?  I do System Restore operations frequently on my XP-based test machines and occasionally on my Vista machines.
    LVL 8

    Author Comment

    I'm running XP Pro XP3.  

    I tried to do system restores all day long yesterday.  Only a few of them worked, but even then, the problem re-occurred.  I went all the way back to July.   None of the failures say anything about why they failed, but I found that usually the sys restore would work if the starting point was just before I installed some new software.

    Since the problem still exists even after a successful sys restore, the only thing I can figure is that RealPlayer must have stomped on a dll that they all depend on and yet that dll isn't actually part of the O/S.  

    Since another of the error messages (posed as separate EE question) is that it can't find a .net v2 dll, I'm going to uninstall .net 3.5, 3.0, and 2.x, then reinstall them and see if that clears it up.

    If you have any other ideas, I'd be glad to try them.
    LVL 66

    Accepted Solution

    .NET Framework Cleanup Tool User's Guide

    .NET Cleanup tool and guide available here...... Id give this a try to thoroughly clean out the .net.....
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    Hi Guys -

    Thanks for your notes and comments.  Have been buried in .NET Framework Reinstall H*LL for the past week so I am just getting back to you with the results.  

    The problem with the apps did turn out to be .NET framework v2.  Apparently, though, .NET is not affected by the system restore.  So whatever copies of the framwork are on the system is what you get regardless of doing a system restore.  Which is why a system restore didn't solve the problem. At least that was how it worked for me.

    I had already found the clean up tool/user's guide, but I am going to give points for that anyway, since that is a useful pointer independent of whether I had already found it or not.  Unfortunately, based on my experience, even that link is insufficient to solve all the problems caused by a .NET failure.

    Thanks again for your suggestions/comments.
    LVL 8

    Author Closing Comment

    The problem was in fact the .NET framework.  Sadly, even the clean up tool and accompanying user guide were insufficient to solve the problem, although it is a valuable link for a goldmine of information on this issue.

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