Custom Presence in Lync 2013–Where did my Custom Presence States Go After I Upgraded?

Consider this post a follow-up to my previous post a few years ago for Lync 2010.

I have heard a few complaints lately about people losing their Custom Presence States when they upgrade the Lync 2010 client to the Lync 2013 client. No problem, we can do it again, and do it for Lync 2013.

imageCustom Presence has always been a hot topic for many users as they want to have something that just isn’t in the box. The basics just don’t give enough information in many cases. After all, it is much nicer to show that you are not just Away, but you are at Lunch, so that everyone knows you are working today, and that you will be back soon.

Custom Presence requires:

  • Permission to edit the registry of the computer, or the ability to deploy the Registry settings via a Group Policy object
  • The actual Registry entries
  • An XML file that contains the settings for your Custom Presence States

The process is covered really well on many blogs, and is also covered here on the TechNet site. However, I already have your attention, so I will cover the basics here.

1. Create the .XML file.

The XML is pretty simple to write, but if you need help, you can use the file that I have here and then copy and paste it into a file named something really creative, like, custompresence.xml. Note: Doing a direct copy of the XML code below will add some strange characters, so make sure you paste it as straight text. Again, feel free to right click the link in the first part of this step and then save the file. It is easier to edit what works than to write something new.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
<customStates>
  <customState ID=”1″ availability=”Online”>
    <activity LCID=”1033″>Working from home</activity>
  </customState>
  <customState ID=”2″ availability=”Online”>
    <activity LCID=”1033″>I am a happy camper</activity>
  </customState>
  <customState ID=”3″ availability=”do-not-disturb”>
    <activity LCID=”1033″>In a conference call</activity>
  </customState>
  <customState ID=”4″ availability=”do-not-disturb”>
    <activity LCID=”1033″>Wrapping up for the day</activity>
  </customState>
< /customStates>

If you double-click the XML file, it will pop up in Internet Explorer and look just like this image to the right. My XML file is available right here at this link: http://infrastructurehelp.com/custompresence.xml. imageYou can access the file from a Web server or a file server. I bounce around between computers and networks, so I use my website to host the file so I can get to it anywhere.

Some restrictions exist:

  • You can only have up to four different Presence states
  • Your text in the Presence state is limited to 64 characters. I really doubt you need anything near that long, though.
  • You can only use one of the following availability states: Online, Busy, or Do-Not-Disturb. You can’t use Away or Offline.
2. Configure the Registry.

While you can create the Registry entries and use a .reg file to deploy the settings, I prefer to manually edit the Registry. It really is easy.

Run regedit.exe to open the registry editor. In the registry editor, navigate to one of the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Lync
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Lync image

Notice that the location for the Registry settings are different? Yep, that might explain why the Custom Presence States are not there anymore after upgrading the client.

HKLM settings take priority over the HKCU settings, but you can configure the settings in either location. In either case, you will probably have to create the Office key, the 15.0 key, and the Lync key so it looks like the image to the right.

Next, you need to take two steps, which are shown in the Registry Editor to the right.

  1. You need to create a DWORD for for EnableSIPHighSecurityMode and set it to 0. If you are storing the XML file on a Web server that is configured with a certificate, you can use HTTPS instead of HTTP and not need to disable the setting.
  2. Next, you need to create a String Value for the CustomStateURL value. In my case, I use http://infrastructurehelp.com/custompresence.xml for the value. If you want, you can store your custompresence.xml file on the local hard drive. If it is on the local drive, you can just enter file:///c:/FolderName/custompresence.xml instead of using a Web url.

3. Sign out of Lync 2013 and then sign back in again.

In the notification area in the task bar, right-click the Lync 2013 icon and select Sign Out, imagethen start up Lync 2013 again.

If all went according to plan, you should see the custom presence states as shown here.

Note: Custom presence states will not be visible to Federated users that view your presence. In order for them to see your new custom presence states, you will need to add them to your Colleagues container in the Lync client.
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3 Responses to Custom Presence in Lync 2013–Where did my Custom Presence States Go After I Upgraded?

  1. Pingback: Weekly IT Newsletter – September 8-12, 2014 | Just a Lync Guy

  2. Ciara Gogan says:

    Hi, I’m trying to test some custom presence states and I cannot get it to work using the local option (I don’t have access to the Lync servers, so haven’t tested that. Is there anything in our environment that could cause this to not work? I literally downloaded the xml file here and set my hkey (both local machine and current user), to point to that path. dword was already set to 0. When I launch Lync, it shows what I believe are our system-wide custom options

    • Ciara, I have had some issues with WordPress and how it copy and pastes quotation marks. You might want to try deleting the marks and adding them back in again.

      Also, just to be clear, if you already have custom presence options deployed system wide, your admins probably use a Group Policy object to deploy the registry entries.

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