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Running explorer.exe inside the bubble

Normally Windows OS
only allows you to run one instance of
explorer.exe. This makes it a little more complicated to add an
entry point to Explorer and launch it inside the bubble.

There is two ways of launching an Explorer windows inside the bubble.

Alternative 1:
Add an entry point to IExplorer and launch it with the -E parameter.
In package.ini
[iexplore.exe]
Shortcut=xxxx.exe
Source=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe
CommandLine=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe -E

Alternative 2:

Add virtual reg key:
isolation_full HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  Value=DesktopProcess
  REG_DWORD=#01#00#00#00

in Package.ini
[explorer.exe]
Shortcut=xxxxxx.exe
Source=%SystemROOT%\explorer.exe

Advantages:
Browse virtual file system using familiar interface
Enables correct file type associations without system changes (great for portable apps)
Access shell-integrated components without system changes

This entry was posted in Tips on by .
Peter Bjork

About Peter Bjork

Peter Bjork is a Senior Staff Architect, Technical Marketing at VMware. He specializes in Identity and Access Management. He's widely appreciated as a speaker at events like VMworld, VMUG and vFORUM. He is the author of two books as well as numerous white papers and blog posts. When the work day is over, Peter volunteers as a Scout leader for the local Sea Scout troop outside Stockholm, Sweden. Twitter: @thepeb.

10 thoughts on “Running explorer.exe inside the bubble

  1. Dinant Scholte in 't Hoff

    Ok, I understand. But what if there is no explorer.exe process running. We use the Powerfuse shell, so there is no explorer.exe running. How to virtualize explorer.exe when there is no explorer.exe running?
    Our work-around at this moment is to use iexplore.exe instead of explorer.exe.

  2. Peter Bjork

    You should be able to add explorer.exe to your bubble and use that to start the explorer but as far as I know IExplorer.exe -E works just as well.

  3. Dinant Scholte in 't Hoff

    Starting explorer.exe in the bubble with no explorer.exe running results in explorer being started in taskbar mode instead of browse mode. And because the Powerfuse shell is the default shell the windows shell isn’t visible.

  4. Dean Flaming

    Dinant-
    That is a hard coded setting in Windows Explorer. What EXPLORER is doing is checking for itself as a process in the process list. If it doesn’t see itself already running, it will launch itself as a shell (task bar/start menu).
    To get around this “feature” of Explorer, rename the copy of EXPLORER.EXE which you put into your package to something like “THINAPP EXPLORER.EXE” and just reset your entry point to launch that instead.
    Happy ThinApping!

  5. Dinant Scholte in 't Hoff

    Dean,
    I tried that before, but I have problems with this solution. E.g. we use RES Powerfuse. Powerfuse already makes a copy of explorer.exe called pexplorer.exe. Starting pexplorer.exe in the bubble sometimes the explorer window is shown sometimes it isn’t. I can’t get it stable launched.

  6. Dean Flaming

    I don’t know why I didn’t think to try this before.
    One could also utilize a 3rd party file explorer such as A43 (http://www.primitus.us/a43/). Just copy the supporting files into the package and create an entry point for it.
    I just tested A43 and it worked flawlessly.

  7. Dan

    Dean, What entry point would you add in then if you are going to use a43?
    Thanks

  8. Toby Fruth

    Are iexplore and explorer the only EXE’s that should be fired off via the bubble? For instance, I want users to be able to click the email button in a packaged version of Acrobat. Currently, whenever trying this feature, the Windows Installer launches for a moment, then an error appears stating that there is no email client or that it couldn’t be found. Of course, we’re using 64-bit Windows 7, and the registry enrty for the Outllok client points to c:\progra~2. I added a Merged registry entry to the package for HKLM\Software\Clients, but it isn’t helping. I’ve tried ChildProcessEnvironmentExceptions=svchost.exe;OUTLOOK.EXE;fixmapi.exe and ChildProcessEnvironmentDefault=Virtual in Packag.ini, no luck. So now I’m considering launching Outlook via the bubble. I am also considering importing that portion of the registry in to the project.

  9. Toby Fruth

    Perhaps this article contains pertinent information:
    http://blogs.vmware.com/thinapp/2008/10/creating-window.html

  10. Peter Björk

    Anything can be launched inside a bubble. But you shouldn’t have to do it.. I bet you can tweak the project so it supports integration with native Outlook.. Please post questions in the community instead of using the blog posts: http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/desktop/thinapp?view=discussions&start=0
    You are much more likely to get help via the community.

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