Disabling Office 2003 Browser Inline Behavior

There’s a unique problem in an Office 2003 environment that may be encountered by add-in developers.  Namely, by default, Office 2003 documents, when opened from a URL (for example, clicking on a link in an email or typing a URL into a browser address bar) will cause the document to open “inline” with the browser.


The problem with this, for add-in developers, is that while the WINWORD.EXE process is indeed launched, the add-in is not loaded (I’m still not sure why, but I’m guessing it’s due to the different security restrictions of being “hosted” in Internet Explorer).  Aside from this, it’s generally problematic because the default menu bars and toolbars are not displayed by default…not the ideal behavior.

As it turns out, in Office 2007, the behavior is entirely different: the document always open in a standalone WINWORD.EXE process.  So how can we get Office 2003 to behave the same way?  A series of articles lead the way to an answer:

First, Microsoft actually has a KB (927009) which advises how to enabled Office 2003 behavior in an Office 2007 environment.  This is the first clue that the core of the issue is a series of registry keys.  Knowing which keys to look for, I simply checked the keys in an Office 2007 environment to get the values which would cause an application like Word to launch in standalone mode instead of inline mode (decimal 44 in the case of Word).

The next step was figuring out how to adjust these values in existing deployments.  One option would have been to use a similar registry script as porposed in the KB but I decided to use a programmatic approach instead.  I came across some hints on how to approach this task from a forum posting and MSDN articles.

The outcome was this script:

Perhaps the most useful little tidbit in all of this is the RegistryKeyExists method which checks to see a registry path exists.  A return value of 0 from any of the Get[KeyType]Value() method calls indicates that the path was found; it’s a very neat little trick to have up your sleeve.

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