Workaround for Windows 8 Metro apps crashing with NVIDIA beta driver for dual-GPU users

tl;dr If you have a dual NVIDIA & Intel graphics configuration and are running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview experiencing crashes (black screens) when launching Metro apps, there’s a workaround.

Last week I received a new Dell XPS 15z laptop (which has its own set of issues but I digress) and one of the first things I did was to load the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on it for it to become my primary Windows 8 development machine.

Sooner than later, I discovered launching some Metro applications (mostly third-party ones) would flicker the screen black and eventually send me to the Windows login screen. This was a real roadblocker.

After some quick research and brute-force trial and error, I’ve come up with an elaborate but effective workaround for those of us lucky enough to have an alternate GPU fallback in the system.

  1. Verify you have the latest NVIDIA drivers for Windows 8 (at the time of writing 296.17)
  2. Open the NVIDIA control panel by right-clicking on the desktop
  3. In “Manage 3D settings”, choose “Integrated graphics” as the preferred graphics processor globally
  4. Apply/save the setting
  5. Restart Windows (this is to ensure DWM will use this new setting)
  6. Open “Device Manager” by right-clicking on the bottom left corner of the desktop
  7. Expand the “Display adapters” section
  8. Right click on the NVIDIA item and click “Disable”
    (Depending on your luck, you may be sent to a black screen where you’ll need to restart. The setting may also require a few attempts to take effect. Usually takes me 2 tries.)
  9. Verify the NVIDIA card is disabled in the Device Manager. (It will have a small gray icon)
  10. Try to launch a Metro app which crashed earlier, should work now

Aside from the obvious fact this won’t work if there’s no alternate integrated graphics processor, this workaround also has the side-effect of disabling some display functionality which may be tied directly to the NVIDIA GPU – most likely the HDMI port and of course 3D grunt processing power.

I’m hoping this is only a temporary workaround until NVIDIA fixes the underlying crash in their next beta driver update.

On a related note, AMD users should also be aware that the Windows 8 Catalyst drivers are also plagued with a problem in OpenGL, but there’s a workaround for that too.

19 insightful thoughts

  1. I had a similar problem when I first installed Windows 8 on my Dell XPS L502X. However, mine wasn’t an app crashing problem. It was a Windows crashing one.

    http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1061520-cold-start-problems/

    I had a combination of two problems. One, the system couldn’t cope with switching between graphics cards. My Intel GPU drivers caused the switch to NVIDIA ones to give me a BSOD, and two after a few boots I got nowhere near the lock screen. Black screen, white screen, metro-background-color screen. That was it.

    I’m still running the graphics drivers I was running then, and I’ve had no problems with crashing Windows 8 apps. Interesting, eh?

  2. Thank you for the excellent article. Was having the same exact issue on the same machine, but with some real quick searching around I gave up since the problem seemed to vague. Thanks!

  3. Hi Long,

    I kept getting the BSOD after installing the automatic update for the NVIDIA Quadro FX 370M in my Dell Precision M2400 laptop. The best success I have had was reinstalling the last driver I had used for it under Windows 7, version 8.17.12.8026.

  4. Long, if an NVIDIA video card is being used in a desktop computer, may I suggest ditching the NVIDIA graphics card in favour of an ATI/AMD video card instead? You can’t go far wrong with an ATI/AMD video card. Been using ATI/AMD video cards ever since 1996, and their sheer reliability has never, ever failed me once! Also, the driver updates are released much more frequently than with NVIDIA video cards! =D Contrast that to an NVIDIA video card I got in 2007, and by 2009, it was toast! D=

  5. I am stuck in step 8, tried restarting the pc many times but not luck disabling the driver.
    Do you think deinstalling the driver from the menu will also do the trick?

  6. “On a related note, AMD users should also be aware that the Windows 8 Catalyst drivers are also plagued with a problem in OpenGL, but there’s a workaround for that too.” – Where can I find it? Can you please add a link.. thanks

  7. This was absolutely the answer I was looking for! Metro Apps kept closing after I fiddled with my nVidia settings. I reset the global settings “preferred graphics processor” to “Auto-select” and tadah! It works perfectly now.

  8. I’m on an Asus N53SV laptop with integrated intel GPU and a Geforce GT540M dedicated GPU. I’m experiencing exactly the problem you’re describing, but it also affects games such as Counter Strike Source. Unfortnately, your soloution doesn’t work for me. Any ideas?

  9. Your computer needs to be loaded with no startup items. Do start the computer without loading startup/ services programs. To do so, open the Start Screen, type “MSConfig” in the Search Box which is located at the right hand side. Open it. Under General tab, you’ll find an option to disable startups. Do uncheck it and then click OK button. You’ll be prompted to restart your machine, do that immediately.

    If that doesn’t solve your problem, visit here: http://windows8crashfix.com/

  10. Well, you missed a very important point. Guess what? There is no mention about PC Refresh. Windows 8 lets you restore original (factory defaults) and uninstalls any third party installed software (except Windows Store apps). The procedure is simple and secure. Download Patch: http://goo.gl/qyVf6J

    1. Press the Windows Key, type “PC Refresh” in the Search Box.
    2. Open it from the Search Results.
    3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

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