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Removing Problematic Skype App from Production Desktop

Please take a look at this Reliability Monitor output over the past 2 weeks. Notice the yellow exclamation points. Each one arises from the same cause as shown at the foot of the screen cap. It is a “Failed Windows Update” for the built-in Skype app (UWP style). I never use it on my production desktop. That’s because I never installed a camera on this machine. I’ve got 6 laptops within arm’s reach right now, all with built-in cameras and microphones I can (and sometimes do) use for making Skype calls. That’s why I decided to remove the app from the production PC’s Windows image. I’ll explain the process step-by-step, but first here’s the Reliability Monitor data that prompted this action:

Removing Problematic Skype App.relimon

Each of the yellow warning signs (bang!) shows failure to update the Skype app, which I never use. Out it goes!
[Click to view full-sized.]

Removing the Skype App from a Windows 10 Installation

There are two easy ways to remove built-in Windows 10 apps from a given installation (both require admin login and/or admin privileges). You can do it through the Start menu, by typing “Skype” into the search box, then right-clicking the Skype icon that shows up in response. Select “Uninstall” (bottom item) from the pop-up menu that appears and you’ll have it handled. Easy-peasey, right?

Removing Problematic Skype App.gui

Once you right-click the icon to get the pop-up menu, simply click Uninstall. Done!
[Click to view full-sized.]

The other way is from the command line, which takes a few steps because you have to elicit the true app Name and its associated PackageFullName to get where you need to go. That’s because removal requires the latter, but the human understandable version of that name comes from the former. The excellent (and highly-recommended) TenForums.com tutorial “Uninstall Apps in Windows 10” offers this up as option 3 and is worth reading over in full. In my case I needed 2 commands to remove the Skype app at the command line.

The first command was Get-AppxPackage | select Name,PackageFullName. It lists all internal names and their PackageFullName equivalents. That’s how I learned that the real name for the Skype app is Microsoft.SkypeApp and its equivalent PackageFullName is Microsoft.SkypeApp_14.55.131.0_x64__kzf8qxf38zg5c. FWIW, please note my lead-in screencap uses the precise app Name to elicit the PackageFullName directly in one step in PowerShell. That’s another alternative (there are always many in PowerShell).

The basic syntax to remove an app in PowerShell takes the form Remove-AppxPackage PackageFullName. Thus, to remove the Skype app I had to type Remove-AppxPackage Microsoft.SkypeApp_14.55.131.0_x64__kzf8qxf38zg5c. And sure enough, it did the trick. You can use this approach to remove any UWP app in Windows 10, though most experts recommend that you do NOT remove the Windows Store itself this way. I do like and use some UWP apps myself, so I’m not a member of the club that roars “Off with ALL their heads.” See Kari’s discussion of the Windows 10 Decrapifier script for a more radical and wide-sweeping approach.

Otherwise putting things back is pretty easy (except you must first enable development mode: see this TenForums tutorial). It takes two commands which I’ll show you for the Skype app
$ManifestPath = (Get-AppxPackage -Name "*SkypeApp*").InstallLocation + "\Appxmanifest.xml"
Add-AppxPackage -Path $ManifestPath -Register -DisableDevelopmentMode
You can generalize this for other UWP apps by changing the value for the name string to something unique to that app (or use the full name, e.g. “Microsoft.SkypeApp” with no wildcard characters).

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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