This best practices document is designed to show how to use RES Workspace Manager to manage Microsoft Office, including common configurations and also how to use User Settings. The changes outlined the document below can be used for any suite of applications which share common settings.
Navigate to the Composition => Applications section and import the Microsoft Office suite. After importing the Microsoft Office suite, you should have something which resembles the screenshot below. You may have more or less applications depending on the version of Microsoft Office you started with (Professional Plus vs. Standard).
Note: It is recommended to also import file type associations or use process interception for each application. This will make sure that configurations and User Settings are applied when the application is launched outside of the managed shortcut.
Note: You may want to read this entire document first in order to set application defaults before the import. This can cut down on the amount of manual configuration that needs to be done.
Creating the Microsoft Office hidden application
After importing the applications, create a new application from the Add => Application menu item (or alternatively use the the right click “Add Application…” menu item). Set the Title of this application to be Microsoft Office with the version number (in this case Microsoft Office 2010). Provide a good description so that other administrators know what it is used for and do not delete it or otherwise make any unnecessary changes. Uncheck any check boxes and make sure that it does not contain any other information besides the Title and Description. The result should look like the screenshot below.
The next step is to hide the application. On the Settings tab, make sure that the “Hide Application” checkbox is checked. This application is hidden because the user does not need to interact with it. The purpose of this application is to provide a container for all of the Configuration settings that are common to the Microsoft Office Family of products and to make sure that all of the User Settings get captured appropriately since many of the settings are common to other applications.
Configuring User Settings
After hiding the application, the next step is to setup User Settings. RES Workspace Manager provides templates for common application like Microsoft Office. We will use these templates to capture the modifications that a user makes to Microsoft Office and allow these modifications to roam with the user. In order to use the built-in template, the Zero Profile mode needs to be set to “Capture targeted items on session end”. The “Apply” behavior under Options should also be changed to “Apply on application start (requires managed shortcut)”. This allows multiple sessions to be updated on application start.
Note: “Allow users to restore their own settings” can also be selected at this point along with the “Number of sessions to keep” if rollback is a requirement. Each individual application close will count as a session. This means that if Word and Excel are both opened and then both are closed, it will be two sessions.
After selecting the Zero Profile mode and checking the Enabled check box, click on the Capturing tab to add the necessary templates. To add a template, click on the Add button and select Templates => Microsoft Office => Application Name => Version. In this section, add all of the templates for the Microsoft Office applications that you will use (for example Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel). Do not forget to also add the Office Common, Office Tools, and Windows => Windows Messaging Subsystem templates.
Note: Due to a bug in RES Workspace Manager 2012 SR1, Windows Messagins Subsystem is not available as a template on an application level. In order to fix this, please manually add a new registry tree for “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem”
Note: Prior to Workspace Manager 2012 SR1, the custom dictionary is not part of the templates. If this needs to be roamed, please add File %AppData%\Microsoft\UProof\Custom.dic for Microsoft Office 2007/2010 and File %AppData%\Microsoft\Proof\Custom.dic for Microsoft Office 2003.
After the templates are all added, make sure that the Capture mode is set for “After application has ended”. This will allow the settings to be captured after the application has closed and not just when the user logs off (session end). We are now done with User Settings.
Note: User Settings do not need to be configured if capturing and roaming user modifications are not a requirement.
Note: The User Settings will be captured when any of the linked applications are closed.
Hint: The templates provided are a starting point for capturing user modifications. While RES makes the best guess effort about the most important settings, some modifications may be needed. RES Workspace Manager has some built in tools to help make the administrator’s job easier. One such tool is Sampling Mode which is the last tab on the User Settings screen. Sampling mode can show the administrator what settings are made or missed depending on which Zero Profile mode is used. In capturing mode (which is what this document is recommending), the Sampling tab will show which settings (both file and registry) are not being captured. It is easy to then select the missing setting and add it to a template or create a new custom setting to capture. Refer to the Help or Administrator’s Guide for more information.
Adding Global Configuration Items
The next item that will need to be set is the Configuration section. Items in this section will apply whenever any Microsoft Office application is launched. This is a great place to add registry settings (or policies) to configure any common office setting. Another good use case is to get rid of all of the default “nag screens” the first time an Office application is launched.
After configuring any global settings, we are now done with the Microsoft Office hidden application. The next step is to tell the remaining applications (Word, Outlook, Excel, etc) to use the User Settings and Configuration of the Microsoft Office hidden application. To link User Settings from another application to the hidden application, open the application (Microsoft Word in this example) and go to the User Setting section. Check the “Use the User Settings from the follow application:” checkbox and click on the browse button (…) and select the Microsoft Office 2010 application that we created and configured earlier.
Do not forget to check the Enabled checkbox in the Zero Profile mode. The result should look like the screenshot below.
After linking the User Settings, the next step is to link the Configurations. This will allow any application that starts to use the configuration of the Microsoft Office 2010 hidden application as well as apply any additional specific configurations.
Linking the Configurations is very similar to linking User Setttings. Under the Configuration section, click on the Add button and select “Linked Actions” as shown to the right.
Click on the Browse button (…) after the “Perform Actions from application” and select the “Microsoft Office 2010” application.
The result will look like the screenshot below.
It is possible to also add any additional configurations that are application dependent to the configuration section. This might include things like a specific printer for Visio or a set of lockdown policies for Outlook.
After you are finished with the first application, repeat the above steps to link the User Settings and Configuration for each additional Microsoft Office application.
Note: Prior to Workspace Manager 2012, it is also necessary to add an additional environment variable for Windows XP for “localappdata”. This variable should only be for Windows XP machines and should point to “%userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data”.
Setting up Microsoft Office as many different application linked to one application provides the ability to have global or common changes replicated to other environments without the need to logoff first. This also allows the User Settings to be moved from the global level to a managed application level which will speed up logon and logoff times.
Linking the Configuration actions also provides the ability to have one place to place configurations that are common to all of the Microsoft Office products, yet still provide the ability to do Just In Time configuration.
While this document was focused on Microsoft Office, the ideas expressed can be used for any product suite which have a set of tightly coupled applications.