Windows – the Start Screen Control in Windows 8.1 Enterprise

powershellstart-screenwindows 8.1

I have read different things on the new Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM. One of the feature is the Start Screen Control.

Start Screen Control: This feature allows you to control the look of the Start Screen (such as the placement of app tiles) so that users with corporate-issued devices can find them in consistent locations. After configuring a Start screen's look, you use a PowerShell cmdlet to export that configuration to an XML file, which is then applied to users' PCs via Group Policy, locking down that look. You can provide different configurations for different groups of users and permit some user adjustments if you want.

This is a description found on this site. If I read this I understand it like the admin can pre-define an xml file (Start Screen File) where every tile has a exact position and this can not be changed by the user.

Do I understand this description right or what is the announced Start Screen Control in Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition?

Some Background: Enterprise environment where we want to deploy the clients with specified layout. the user should have the permission to change/edit the startscreen. but the administrator should have the possibility to reset, add, remove tiles on software deployments or user support. The best solution will be, that the user can only edit or move some tile other are locked.

Best Answer

Here are some snips and tips to ease with Start XML creation. First set up the start on your baseline machine and be sure to get it 'just right'. Next run Export command creating your XML. The New/Set snips create a registry key and apply startlayoutfile.

Apply it to HKLM for all users and reboot or HKCU per user and logoff to see $profit.

# HKLM - all users
Export-StartLayout -Path "D:\Start-Layout-81-x64.xml" -As XML
New-Item -Path Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows -Name Explorer
Set-ItemProperty -Path 'registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer' -Name StartLayoutFile -Value "D:\Start-Layout-81-x64.xml"
# HKCU - per user
Export-StartLayout -Path "D:\Start-Layout-81-x64.xml" -As XML
New-Item -Path Registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows -Name Explorer
Set-ItemProperty -Path 'registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer' -Name StartLayoutFile -Value "D:\Start-Layout-81-x64.xml"

NOTE: It is all or nothing on the control. 100% lockdown, or fully customizable. You can control with this setting. That's actually what Group Policy does and I do not prefer it. At least my way we have full control 'until' the employee get's their mitts on it.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00