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Registering ThinApp applications using thinreg.exe

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The flexibility of VDI can be enhanced when using virtualized applications on the virtual desktops. With VMware ThinApp you can install or stream virtual applications to the virtual desktop when the user needs them. Installing the application means that the ThinApp container will be deployed to the machine in a MSI package. When installing the MSI the application will be registered in the Add/Remove software dialog in the control panel and when configured in the package.ini before, the shortcuts on desktop and start menu will be created and also the file type extension will be registered.

In a huge VDI deployment it is much easier to stream an application into the OS and of course you can save storage. Guess when you can save i.e. 100 times <> 1 GB for a Microsoft Office Professional. Streaming the application to the desktop is very easy. Just create a network share on a file server and store your application there. Try to open the network drive or UNC path from the virtual desktop and start the application. That’s great! You can already work with the streamed software but when you just click on a Word document for example it will not open your virtualized Microsoft Word yet because it is not registered to open these file types. And also it will be annoying for the user to always navigate to the UNC/network drive to start the application. For that reason we need to use a tool called thinreg.exe which is included with VMware ThinApp. This application helps to create the shortcuts and tell the OS that Word documents should be opened with the ThinApp container. You’ll find the tool in the ThinApp program files directory on the packager machine. Copy the file to your domains netlogon share so that it is available from everywhere.

Then go to the Active Directory management console and create a new group policy for your users which should be applied when they login to the virtual desktop.



In the User Configuration go to Windows Settings, Scripts and click on Logon. If you now click on Show Files, a network UNC path will be opened and you can create your script here. You can use command batch files or VB-Scripts which will be much faster when executed during the users logon.


When you’ve created the script you must save it and then go back to the logon properties dialog where you can add the script. Just enter the scripts name with extension.


Here is the example script which I’ve used. I think there will be several ways to write a script but I’ve used the Run command in the WScript.Shell object to execute the ThinApp Thinreg.exe tool. The syntax is quite easy: Just call the thinreg.exe from the netlogon UNC path and as parameter call your ThinApp application which is stored on the file server.


When your script works and you did configure the file types and shortcuts options correct in your package.ini you can see the shortcut to your application be created on the desktop/start menu and you can open documents directly which will launch your virtualized application. At the end I’ve written another script which unregisters the ThinApp container during logoff. Just add the parameter /U to your script before calling the applications name.

That’s it! Pretty easy!

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Written by Christoph Harding

June 11th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

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