CONFIGURE FILE TYPE ASSOCIATIONS USING VMware’s USER ENVIRONMENT MANAGER

Background

Starting from Windows 8 (in case of desktop operating system) and Windows Server 2012 (in case of server operating system), for security reasons Microsoft has introduced a mechanism where registry changes (per user and app) are verified by a hash. Therefore, it has become difficult to modify the Windows Registry and associate default Applications to handle a given File Type. For complete story, please refer to the blog by Christoph Kolbicz. Microsoft offers a solution with the means of Group Policy Object, however it is computer based and not user based. Therefore, the solution given in the Microsoft blog would not work for roaming users. Thanks to Christoph Kolbicz, who has a provided a workaround to this limitation by creating a SetUserFTA.exe file which generates a secret hash for a given file type extension.

In this blog post, I intend to cover how to use SetUserFTA.exe file along with User Environment Manager and configure File Type Association.

Steps to Configure File Type Association

  • Download the SetUserFTA.exe file
  • On the UEM File share, create a folder with the name SetUserFTA under the UEM configuration general folder and copy the SetUserFTA.exe file under the SetUserFTA folder. For example, copy the SetUserFTA.exe file under the below path

\Fileshare.server.com\UEMCONFIG$\general\SetUserFTA\SetUserFTA.exe

  • Create an UserFTA.config file by copying the below content in a plain notepad file. In the below config file, you need to make an entry with a file type extension and a program/application id. For instance, an entry highlighted in blue below is used to associate a file type with .pdf extension with a default Acrobat reader program or Application. Likewise to associate a file type with .html extension with a default Google Chrome program, you need to make an entry as highlighted below.

Usage:

SetUserFTA.exe extension progid [optional:group]

SetUserFTA.exe configfile

Visit http://kolbi.cz for more information.

.pdf, ArchoExch.Document.DC

.html, Google Chrome

  • Copy the UserFTA.config file in the below path on Windows machine running the User Environment Manager

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\UserFTA.config

  • In the User Environment console, select the User Environment tab and create a new Logon task as shown below

The below line should be entered as the Command line

cmd.exe /c “”\ Fileshare.server.com\UEMCONFIG$\general\SetUserFTA\SetUserFTA.exe” “%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\UserFTA.config”

When creating a Logon task, the Run task should be set to After Profile Archive Import. This makes sense as you want the File Type Association to set and persist after importing the user profile settings

  • In the User Environment console, select the User Environment tab and create a new Logoff task as shown below

The below line should be entered as the Command line

cmd.exe /c “”\ Fileshare.server.com \UEMCONFIG$\general\SetUserFTA\SetUserFTA.exe” get > “%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\UserFTA.config””

When creating a Logoff task, the Run task should be set to Before Profile Archive export. This makes sense as you want the File Type Association settings to export on the profile archive share before exporting the user profile settings.

  • In the UEM Management Console go to the Personalization tab and create a new Config File containing the following entries.

[IncludeRegistryTrees]
HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts
HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Associations
HKCU\Software\Classes
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ApplicationAssociationToasts

[ExcludeRegistryTrees]
HKCU\Software\Classes\Software
HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings

[IncludeFiles]
\Microsoft\Windows\UserFTA.config

  • To test the User File Type Association, login to a virtual deskop and open a file with .pdf extension. The file type association would work after the first successful logon / logoff cycle.
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