Windows 8 Pro forgets default browser settings after sysprep

Hi folks,

I have a rather frustrating problem and resolving it seems more and more impossible.

We use SCVMM to deploy Windows 8 templates in our lab environment. The templates have all necessary modifications done to fit our needs including setting the default browser to IE10. We also have a dozen of user accounts configured in the template each with different regional and language settings (for localized testing) of which each user is set to IE10 by default.

Unfortunately each time we make a template out of our (sysprepped) Windows 8 master image and deploy it afterwards, no default browser is set anymore for any user on the newly created Windows 8 VM.

This is quite a problem since our automation tries to open the default browser but ultimately hangs at the open with window. Due to the lack of proper IDs of the new open with window in Windows 8 we are unable to handle this message and as a result our tests fail.

Weve been working a long time to get this resolved but at the end we couldnt manage to get the problem solved.

Here are just a few things we tried:

- Trying to associate .html, .htm etc. files with IE manually through registry. There are many tutorials for this on the World Wide Web but none of them seem to work (maybe because they mostly relate to Windows 7?). Although keys in the registry seem to be just fine, the open with dialog still opens up and the IE complains about not being the default browser (a new tab opens up which tells you this). Even using .reg files which are reported to work fine under Windows 7 have absolutely no effect on Windows 8.

- Making a snapshot of the registry after weve set all default browser settings manually and importing the .reg file upon first startup of the newly created VM. NOTE: This does work under one condition! If we use a VM and make the adjustments, export the registry, revert to a snapshot where the changes are not yet made and then reimport the registry, the settings are applied. BUT: if we use another VM made out of the SAME template and import the registry, the settings are being ignored.

- Using tools which are supposed to change the default browser because we thought that we made a mistake somewhere but in the end even those tools which were supposedly working had no effect under Windows 8 (we still got asked by the open with dialog.)

We also wanted to see how other browsers handle the Make this browser default-procedure. We found out that other browsers also have this problem. As a test scenario we installed Firefox and we of course got asked after install if we want to make FF our default browser. Even after we clicked yes the Open with dialog STILL popped up the first time.

My question to you are therefore the following:

Why does WIN8 forget the default browser settings after being sysprepped?

Why do the registry entries for file associations have no effect on WIN8 (at least we still get asked for default programs even if we set the necessary keys).

Is there any way we can solve this problem or is this by design in Windows 8 to prevent applications silently making themselves default.

If there is a solution: Is there a way we can apply the settings for all users at once? (The registry solution works only if in HKCU?!)

Attached you can find a screenshot of the open with dialog we mean.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,


July 26th, 2013 11:59am


I suggest you configure the default user profile settings for a test. If the default user profile is incorrect, other users won't be set correctly.
July 29th, 2013 5:54am


I added CopyProfile to our answer file but unfortunately it did not resolve the problem. Default browser settings are still lost after deploying a sysprepped template.

Any suggestions?



July 29th, 2013 10:33am


I think you need to configure this registry as well.

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August 1st, 2013 12:38pm

you marked your own answer as correct???  This is a totally wrong answer!!
April 3rd, 2014 7:22pm

I completely agree with you.  This isn't the correct answer.  I have exactly the same issue.  Windows 7 sysprep - copy profile true would keep any IE settings that were customized.  Windows 8 does not.
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June 4th, 2014 1:10pm

The accounts you are using in Windows 8, are they local or Live accounts?
June 4th, 2014 2:00pm

I realize this thread is old, but with a google search it was the top result. In the interest of helping those that will search google for an answer to this, here is what I was able to do:

  1. Using an account (usually the "Administrator" account when using Sysprep in Audit Mode), set your application defaults.
  2. While still using that account, run this from a command line:

dism /online /Export-DefaultAppAssociations:C:\PATH\TO\FILE.xml
  1. Use Sysprep to generalize the machine.
  2. After Sysprep, run this from the command line just once:

dism /online /Import-DefaultAppAssociations:C:\PATH\TO\FILE.xml

That should be it.  Now, every new user will have new program defaults.  You do not need to run the import command at logon for each users.  Running the import command once replaces the defaults for all new users.

Credit to Jason Freeman over at Spiceworks for this solution!

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July 23rd, 2015 9:56am

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