[THIN] Re: Activate Excel add-ins for all users

Hi Stephen,

This uses the shadow key (HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows
NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\Install\Software) to propagate updated
settings from the admin user's profile (HKCU\Software) when in "install"
mode (change user /install) to non-admin users as they log on. Provided the
timestamp on the settings in the shadow key are newer than the user's
settings, the shadow key settings will be written to the user's profile.

It's actually a bit more complicated but that's essentially it.

This works fine in an environment where you've only got a few servers, but
is just plain bad strategy when you've got a lot of servers. The biggest
problem with using the shadow key is that you have to manage it, and short
of automating updates to the shadow key AND making sure the date/time
timestamp on settings in the shadow key are consistent (RDT/SDT utils).
Bring a new server online that hasn't got all the shadow values, or better
yet different ones, and things start getting chaotic.

While it's certainly possible to manage the shadow key, it starts creating
problems when it propagates settings you don't want to go to all users. For
example, what if you've got 4 or 5 different add-ins, for different groups
of people?

So what can you do?

An Excel (or other office product, replace excel with outlook etc) add-in
can get "activated in a couple of different ways.

The first is via a per-user setting,
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Excel\Addins. Each addin has it's own subkey,
and whether the addin is used or not is controlled by the loadbehavior
value, where a value of 2=disabled, 3=enabled.

The shadow key can obviously be used to propagate the sukey and values to
all users, but you can also use scripting or a custom group policy, then
make the add-in available or not for selected users.

If you want to turn it on for everyone on a server, then you can do that by
creating or copying the addin subkey to
HKLM\SOftware\Microsoft\Office\Excel\Addins, with exactly the same values as
the HKCU entry.

That let's you manage what's happening, and not just depend on what is a
sometimes useful, and many times not, outdated mechanism in the shadow key.

The best thing to do with the shadow key is keep it empty. By all means use
it to determine what settings should be propagated, but once you've worked
out a better way to do that, delete the shadow key values.



Ulrich Mack

On 10/3/07, Raffensberger, Stephen D <sraffens@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> 1. Log in as an admin.
> 2. Change user /install.
> 3. Launch Excel, activate the add-in, exit.
> 4. Change user /execute.
> Steve Raffensberger
> Sovereign Bank
> Email: sraffens@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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