Simply put, I had a broken installation of an Adobe product (GoLive v6). This left many dangling file associations. Rather than cracking open the registry and deleting any key/value referring to GoLive I used the control panel 'folder options' to browse through the file associations and delete them there. Now either I've deleted a file association accidentally, or GoLive had attached itself to something that was required for Active Desktop to work.
Initially this gave me three identifiable problems: 1) When I attempted to start active desktop
through display properties I received an error message "Internet Explorer can't find the Active
Desktop HTML file. This file is needed for your Active Desktop. Click OK to turn off Active
2) WebViews (if I'm naming the way windows displays fancy folder contents) doesn't work. Icons get replaced with little red 'x's and folder names get replaced with "%THISDIRNAME%" and the formatting is all wrong.
Individually I saw no success, but once multiple dlls had been registered scripts and webviews returned to normal. However now I can't enable active desktop. I've checked the registry for the 'noactivedesktop' key and changed that from 1 to 0.
So I'm part way there, but how do I restore the option for active desktop, short of reinstalling Windows (sfc did nothing for me).
1. The missing file in question is Desktop.htt, which you may be able to recover from another computer running Active Desktop (it's in WINDOWSApplication DataMicrosoftInternet Explorer).
2. The "%THISDIRNAME%" oddity seems to hinge on requiring the Folder.htt file in the WindowsWeb directory. Again, this can be taken from another machine w/Active Desktop if yours has gone missing.
This was first published in April 2004