Anything for sysadmins!


Windows and Outlook search indexer

Search is quite a vital part of Windows 7 and also of Outlook. People always need to find that special email or file and then search doesn't show the most recent items. One of the solutions might be rebuilding the search index. However these problems have the tendency to keep coming back.

A colleague recently pointed me to an alternative approach. It seems that sometimes Windows is having problems keeping up with all the file changes and all the email that pours in. Just like in Windows Vista, the Windows Search indexer is throttled to make sure that your system stays fast and snappy. If you can't find your files and emails you are slowed down even more. The solution is to disable the indexer backoff. This tells the indexer to just keep going and not to worry about any system activity.

The indexer is especially busy when you install Xobni and it starts indexing all your mail. It will touch all your mail forcing the Windows Indexer to re-index everything. With the indexer backoff enabled it will, which is the default, Outlook performance drags for a long time. When the indexer backoff is disabled the searchindexer.exe process will ramp up the CPU cycles and finish much faster allowing you to find your email sooner!

You can also find this setting in the Group Policy editor under Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Search. The setting is called Disable indexer backoff. You'll want to enable this to turn off the indexer backoff.

As a registry key you can use HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search\DisableBackoff with a value of 1.

Or use this oneliner:
reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search" /v DisableBackoff /t REG_DWORD /d 1 && net stop "Windows Search" && net start "Windows Search"


Office 2010 deployment with language packs

Deploying desktops can take quite some time, however using Windows Deployment Services in combination with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 update 1 automates it all. In this article I will get down and dirty with deploying Office 2010 Pro Plus with language packs using MDT.

Start with copying the DVD/ISO to a separate folder. I choose to use the English version as the base, but you can use any language you want.

Copy the contents of the Office Language Pack 2010 <language> to the same folder. You will be presented with a couple of duplicate files and folders. You can accept the folders, but don't overwrite the current version of the files. You will end up with something like this.

Step 2 is to import the whole Office 2010 application into Deployment Workbench.

  1. Right click Applications in your deployment share and select New Application
  2. Select the option Application with source files
  3. Enter the Application Name, Version and Language
  4. Select the directory where you combined the installation source and the language packs
  5. Specify the name of the directory that should be created
  6. Enter setup.exe in the command line box
  7. Files are being copied to the Deployment Share

Step three is to edit the application settings and create an Office customization file with the Office Customization Tool.

  1. Right click the Office Pro Plus 2010 x86 application and select Properties
  2. Click the Office Products tab
  3. Select ProPlus in Office product to install
  4. Check the languages you want to include in the install
  5. Fill out the Customer name field
  6. Select None in the Display level dropdown box
  7. Check Accept EULA

You can leave the Product key field empty because I'm using the KMS key. The MSP that we will create with the Office Customization Tool will include this. If you're using the MAK key you may insert it here, however do note that the product key is stored in clear text as indicated in the warning. I advise you to enter the MAK key in the Office Customization Tool where it will be obfuscated.

Click the Edit Config.xml button to confirm that the following lines are present in the generated file.

<AddLanguage Id="match" />

<AddLanguage Id="en-us" ShellTransform="Yes" />

<AddLanguage Id="de-de" />

<AddLanguage Id="nl-nl" />

The Id attribute in those XML lines is the language that will be added to the installation. Make sure that the right language has the attribute ShellTransform set to Yes.

Now click the Office Customization Tool button. You will be presented with a dialog that tells you to save the MSP file in the location <deployment share>\Applications\Office Pro Plus 2010 x86\Updates when you're done. If you don't save the file in that location the MSP will not be used during the installation.

  1. Select the Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 (32-bit) product
  2. In the Default File Types dialog I recommend to select the Office Open XML formats option as this is most used and supports all the formatting options in the Office applications
  3. Select Licensing and user interface
  4. Check the I accept the terms in.. option
  5. Select Display level None and check No cancel if you want to remove the cancel button during installation
  6. Edit all other options that you want changed like: Organization name
  7. Click File > Save As and store the file in the previously mentioned location

Office Pro Plus 2010 is now available in the Task Sequence. Don't forget to add it to your task sequence.


Removing offline files sync partnership

Removing a offline files sync partnership is not as straight forward as it should be. However there seems to be a way to remove them none the less.

  • Disable offline files in the Sync Center

  • Reboot
  • Go to C:\Windows\CSC\v2.0.6\ and take ownership of the folder
    • right click the CSC folder, chick properties.
    • click security
    • advanced
    • owner
    • edit
    • select or add your username to the list
    • put a check mark in "Replace owner on ..."
    • OK
  • Delete the server folder that you want to remove from the partnership
  • Reboot
  • Restore permissions on the C:\Windows\CSC\v2.0.6\ folder
    • Go to the permission tab and make sure the checkbox -include "inheritable permissions from this object's parent"-
      is checked. Then reboot and verify the permissions are correct.

Offline files should now work again and the sync partnership should now be removed completely.



Menus drop to the left

One of the weirdest issues I've come across in a while was that the menus were appearing on the wrong side as shown in the images below.

After some googling I found out that this had to do with the Tablet PC Settings being set to right-handed use. This seems to be the most logical setting for a right-handed person, but since I'm not using a touchscreen it only causes the menus to appear on the wrong (different) side. Therefore it's smarter to set the handedness to left-handed. This will not change any other settings on the system.

Accessing the Tablet PC Settings is another story as this options is not shown on the control panel of a non-tablet PC. Ronnie Vernon on the Microsoft Answers forum had a really elegant solution to this problem.

Press the Windows logo key+R to bring up the Run dialog box. In the Open line, copy/paste the following text.


Press OK

Thanks Ronnie!


The specified service does not exist as an installed service

I had a user today that had some problems with downloading data from the internet. He could browse most internet sites, but some of the content would generate errors like "Unable to download". The network icon in the task bar had a red cross through it.

This was a hint that something with the network was wrong, so I started the Network and Sharing Center. This showed me the error below.

Something was definitely wrong. I compared the services to another PC and this soon showed a couple of services missing. Amongst the missing services were: Backgroup Intelligent Transfer Service and Network List Service which probably caused the aforementioned problems. I decided to reinstall the PC, because it would probably have more issues than these visible ones and I didn't have the time to investigate. I suspect that something went wrong during the WDS rollout or the updates because the user didn't work on the PC for that long.

I guess it'll have to remain a mystery…