VMware Horizon with Published Applications – No support for opening files from a client device when the file resides on UNC paths. The file may be missing or have misconfigured permissions.

VMware have come on leaps and bounds in a bid to try to compete with the long standing success of Citrix in application delivery. However as a product looking to challenge the market, there are still some significant product limitations that affect its ability for uptake in the Enterprise environment.

I was looking to deploy a basic published application so that the local device would automatically launch the remote application in preference to the older version of the same application installed locally. During the deployment process, the FTAs (File Type Associations) were updated in order to force the file to open in the published application. Initially this proved to be successful when the source file (an .xlsx file) originated on the local devices C: drive.

It was only when I subsequently tested the opening of a file that was located on the Desktop or in My Documents that I was presented with the error:-

“There was an unexpected problem opening the file. The file may be missing or have misconfigured permissions. Contact your administrator for more information”


In the first instance, I thought there was something wrong in my configuration and deployment, but upon reviewing the log file on the Server hosting the published application, it turns out that the error translated into something more sinister:-

2017-01-03T16:56:59.537Z ERROR (0900-10AC) [ws_applaunchmgr] File ‘\\tsclient\(VMFR)Documents\Horizon7ProdMigrationPhase1.xlsx’ doesn’t exist {SESSION:541e_***_758e; SESSION:541e_***_758e}

As you can see from the log excerpt above, there was suggestion the process was trying to open the file using CDR (client drive redirection) by appending \\tsclient to the file, as it would normally do successfully, if of course the file was located on the local client device. The catch here however was that the file didn’t reside on the local device, it was in fact actually sat in a Redirected Folder courtesy of the use of Microsoft standard Folder redirection Group Policy to a DFS hosted network share, referenced by a UNC path.

I tried a few other tests to make sure it wasn’t just a problem with the folder redirection, so opened up a direct UNC path to a file sat on the DFS root \\domain.name\DFS\FileShare\Text.xlsx and the same problem occurred.

After a ticket with GSS, they suggested I map the DFS root with a drive letter and then permit the pass-thru of the drive letter to the published application, which did of course work. However, this isn’t practical and in fact inefficient as the file is being pulled from the Network share to the client and then back from the client to the published application. Realistically no Enterprise environment should be expected to change their drive letter standards to overcome a feature that I believe should be native to the product. Citrix XenApp and Microsoft RemoteApp can handle this with relative ease, so I’m really surprised VMware have dropped the ball on something so simplistic and for so long as application publishing has been in their portfolio since 2014!

The latest news I’ve heard is that this is now in product development with the aim to deliver in Q2 of 2017. I urge that if you are considering VMware Application Publishing and rely on the use of redirected files and folders with UNC paths, I would be extremely mindful that this could be a serious blocker for the uptake of this platform, both on-premises and in the cloud.

4 thoughts on “VMware Horizon with Published Applications – No support for opening files from a client device when the file resides on UNC paths. The file may be missing or have misconfigured permissions.

  1. Great article. I ran into this as well. Was this in Horizon 7? I am still in Horizon 6 but will be moving to 7 in the coming months. Hopefully by then VMware has resolved this issue.

    1. Hi Dinesh, thanks for the comment. Yes, this affects all current versions of Horizon (at the time of writing even 7.0.3). Ive had confirmation from VMware that this feature is planned for a Q2 release (July 2017) and could quite possibly make a 7.1.1 release following the announcement of 7.1 GA in March 2017.

  2. Thanks for this post. I used it as a reference for a VMware ticket that I just opened. I’m running 7.1 and it’s still an issue unfortunately.

    1. Hi John. Thanks! I’ll update the blog post to reflect the version release change still missing the fix. The product managers seem to be sticking strong with a Q2 release date which is disappointing given how many other people I’ve seen with this issue.

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