Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Windows 8.1 Default File Associations

Setting the default file associations for Windows 8.1 can be a quite challenge. First to note is that User's Group Policy Preference Folder Option Open With ... setting does not work anymore. So, in order to set default file associations we have two "mechanisms" in our hands.
The first one is DISM with set of new options for viewing, removing, exporting and importing default file associations. Exporting and Importing option is using xml file. So, after we have assigned specific application associations for certain file extensions on our reference computer, we have an option to export those settings into xml file using DISM, for example:
Dism /Online /Export-DefaultAppAssociations:<path to xml file>\DefAppAssoc.xml>
This xml file can be imported into our image file that we're using for Windows 8.1 deployment scenarios, and everyone that will logon to the operating system deployed using that "modified" image file will have the same default file associations as our reference computer. This xml file can be imported to already deployed Windows 8.1 operating system, but file associations that we have predefined will have effect only to new users that will logon to that system.
So, what about the existing users that already have generated profiles ? Here comes the other mechanism for setting the default file associations and that is the new GPO setting located into:
Computer configuration\Administrative templates\Windows Components\File Explorer\Set a default associations configuration file
where we can specify the path to the exported xml file. This GPO setting will set the following registry entry with path to the default file association xml file:
HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System\DefaultAssociationsConfiguration
This setting will be applied on every user logon. Negative side, or for someone might be Positive side (depends from the scenario) to this kind of setting the default file association, is that every time the user change some setting for file association it will be reverted back to our default defined file associations on next logon.

More about Export, Import options for DISM on http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825038.aspx .
 

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