Defining custom presence states for Office Communicator

Custom presence states in Office CommunicatorLast night, Garry Martin pinged me on Office Communicator and was very excited about something… as it happened, that something turned out to be the new features in Office Communications Server 2007 R2. He was also keen to show of the new custom presence tags he’d created and even I (the great instant messaging cynic) have to admit that they are pretty cool (I may find IM a distraction but presence awareness is a valuable tool).

Why bother? Well, if you have to ask that question then this mod is probably not for you but I do find that there are different levels of busy in life and sometimes the default states are just not enough.

I decided to implement this on my PC too and it’s quite simple. First up you need an XML file:



Coffee Anyone?


Yes, I really am busy…


Customer Presentation

In my case, this is called presence.xml and I’ve saved it in my Documents folder.

Then you need a registry key to access it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Communicator]
@=""
"CustomStateURL"="file:///C:/Users/username/Documents/presence.xml"

Restart Office Communicator and the new states are there for selection.

I can’t claim any credit for this – the original details came to me from Tom Laciano (aka LCS Kid)’s blog post on OC Custom Presence States and Brett Johnson’s post which highlights the availability of an HTML application to do the hard work for you, via Garry. Tom’s blog post also mentions a couple of limitations in that you can’t have yellow (away) custom presence (why not?!) and that you have to sign in with one of the default states before selecting a custom one.

At the moment I just have the three custom states that are in the example XML above but, after the day I’ve just had, I feel like adding another one – “Trying to process my Inbox to zero”…

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