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How-To Geek

IT: How to Correctly Install Applications on a Remote Desktop Server

by Taylor Gibb on


When installing an application on a Terminal Server, because multiple people will be using the application at once, there is actually a special method that you should use to install the applications. Here’s two methods to do it the right way.

Note: this is part of our ongoing series teaching IT administration basics, and might not apply to everybody.

Command Line Method

The first method we can use involves the command line. You will need to change your user mode to installation mode by using the following command:

Change User /Install


At this point you could go ahead and safely install the application, but once the application is installed don’t forget to change back to execution mode, you can do so by running the following command:

Change User /Execute


The GUI Method

If you think you are going to forget to switch back to execution mode, or maybe you just don’t like the command line you can always do the same thing using the GUI.  To get started open control panel


Switch to the small icon view, and look for Install Application on Remote Desktop Server, double-click on it


Now you can simply go through the next, next, finish style wizard which will help you get the application installed.

Why Must I Do This?

When you use “change user /install” before installing an application, you actually create .ini files for the application in the system directory. These files are used as master copies for user-specific .ini files. After installing the application,  when you type “change user /execute”  you are reverting to standard .ini file mapping. The first time you run the application, it searches the home directory for its .ini files. If the .ini files are not found in the home directory, but are found in the system directory, Terminal Services copies the .ini files to the home directory, ensuring that each user has a unique copy of the application .ini files. Each user should have a unique copy of the .ini files for an application. This prevents instances where different users might have incompatible application configurations.



Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

Did You Know

Despite the popular misconception that “zillions” is an actual number (often placed in order after trillions), it simply refers (often comedically) to a very large number of indeterminate size.

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Is the change user /install (execute) mode still needed ?

Asked by

  • change user /install




    • sidh71




    | Members | 17 posts




    I have a simple question: In Xendesktop 7.x –> is it still needed to run change user /install before installing any application??. Normally the windows installer takes care of this, but it might be handy to run it anyways, just in case. I still see a lot of install scripts, at work, unning the change user / install  – / execute,  for example when installing  Adobe reader 10 or Java etc.. , but is it really necessary nowadays ? – old school stuff- 


    Thanks in advance,



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