Microsoft KB Archive/254957

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Article ID: 254957

Article Last Modified on 11/21/2006


  • Microsoft Foundation Class Library 4.2, when used with:
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 Service Pack 5

This article was previously published under Q254957

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry


When an unprivileged (for example, a non-administrator or a non-power) user runs a standard Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) OLE server on Windows 2000, the registry update fails and displays the following error message:

"Failed to update the system registry. Please try using REGEDIT."


This error occurs because each time an MFC OLE executable server runs, it calls the UpdateRegistry function in the COleTemplateServer class. The MFC UpdateRegistry function updates the registry entries in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT for both the application and its document types. This update either creates the entries when the program is executed for the first time, or updates the entries to repair any damage that may have occurred. In Windows 2000, access to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT is restricted to administrators and power users.


WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

To resolve the error and allow the server to register when it is executed by a privileged user, test the registry permissions when you open a key, as demonstrated in the following code:

HKEY hTestKey = NULL;
LONG lResult = ::RegCreateKeyEx(HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, 
                          "MFCOServ.Document", 0, "", 
                          KEY_ALL_ACCESS, NULL, 
                          &hTestKey, NULL);
if ((ERROR_SUCCESS == lResult) && (hTestKey != NULL))
   // It's ok to call UpdateRegistry

Note that the second parameter to RegCreateKeyEx is the document type in the registry. This will be specific to your project.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a bug in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.


Windows 2000 by default is a secure Windows environment. In this environment, unprivileged users may write to the following three specific locations:

  1. To their own portion of the registry, designated as HKEY_CURRENT_USER, with following two exceptions:



  2. To their own user profile directory (CSIDL_PROFILE).
  3. A shared documents location (CSIDL_COMMON_DOCUMENTS).

Applications must be installed by administrators and power users. An MFC OLE server, which has previously been registered by a privileged user, continues to run successfully after the error is resolved.

Steps to Reproduce the Behavior

  1. Use the MFC AppWizard to generate an MFC executable application.
  2. On page 1 of the MFC AppWizard, select either the single-document or multi-document application type.
  3. On page 3 of the MFC AppWizard, select either "full server" or "both container and server" as the type of compound document support you want to include.
  4. Accept the defaults on the remaining MFC AppWizard pages.
  5. Build the application.
  6. Under the logon of an unprivileged user, run the application and the error is displayed. If the application was already registered on the computer, then the error is resolved and the program continues to execute. If the application was never registered on the target computer, it fails.


Application Specifications for Microsoft Windows 2000 for Desktop Applications (Specifications\Platforms).
Application Specifications for Microsoft Windows 2000 for Distributed Applications (Specifications\Platforms).
Microsoft Windows 2000 Application Compatibility (Technical Articles\Windows Platform\Windows 2000).
Microsoft Windows 2000 Group Policy (Backgrounders\Windows Platform\Windows 2000)

Additional query words: unprivileged COleTemplateServer UpdateRegistry

Keywords: kbtshoot kbbug kbdocview kboleapp kbpending KB254957