Monday, July 12, 2010

Outlook 2003/2007 Looses Email Signature on Terminal Servers

I had a really weird problem with outlook 2003 installed on a terminal server farm running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition R2 x86. Whenever users logged into a different terminal server their outlook signature under tools --> options --> mail format --> signatures got set to instead of their predefined configured signature. The user would have to go back and re-select their signature every time they logged into a different terminal server.

I had multiple servers in the farm with the following configuration:

- Users profiles are redirected to a network share

- Users profiles are deleted of the terminal server when users log off

- Application Data, Desktop, Documents are all redirected off to network shares for each user.

- Citrix was installed on terminal servers in the farm.

I visited Microsoft KB918561 and deleted the ImportPRF key as Microsoft suggested from each terminal server, however this did not fix my issue.


The problem comes with the way Microsoft implemented the installation process for Outlook. During installation, Outlook creates a registry entry called First-Run. It contains some sort of cryptic code which I don't fully understand, but you don't need to. The problem comes from the fact that when you install Outlook on the second server, it generates a NEW, UNIQUE code. When a user launches Outlook for the first time, that First-Run key gets copied into their profile and follows them around. Unfortunately, when the user next launches Outlook, if they hit a server with a different First-Run key, Outlook makes the assumption they are a new user, and will wipe out certain profile information, including the signature info. The signature itself probably isn't gone, just the information that tells Outlook to actually use it.

The First-Run key is located under:


If you notice notice in this terminal server environment, each terminal server had a different hex code for First-Run.

Terminal Server 1 ("First-Run"=hex:0b,e4,9d,de,3f,17,87,40,8b,8f,e4,70,c7,3c,24,88)

Terminal Server 2 ("First-Run"=hex:37,47,b4,ae,5f,18,10,49,b9,e1,18,27,9e,e3,6b,59)

What I did was export the First-Run REG-BINARY value to a .reg file from Terminal Server 1 then import the reg file into all other terminal servers in the farm. Once you ensure that the hex code for First-Run is the same on all terminal servers in the farm, the issue will not occur anymore.

The same problem also exists for Office 2007. The above fix still applies, just change 11.0 to 12.0

Hope this post fixes your issue, please leave feedback.