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Michael wrote a great post about how to deploy a Start menu on Windows 10 machines. A downside of this method was that the Start menu was locked; that is, the user could not add or remove tiles. In Windows 10 1511, Microsoft has changed this. In my example, the "Corporate shortcuts" section is locked down (signified by the lock), and the user can modify the "My shortcuts" section.
To configure the Start menu, we used an exported XML file containing the Corporate shortcuts section, which we placed on a file share. We then deployed the XML file with the help of Group Policy to the Windows 10 clients. It is possible to deploy an XML file that contains more than one section that we want to lock down.
The user can then select an application under All apps, right-click it, and select "Pin to Start". Users can also create new groups and re-size or re-arrange them.
How to deploy the Start menu ^
The procedure below describes how to deploy the Start menu via Group Policy:
- Begin by creating a Start menu that you want to use for the Corporate shortcuts by arranging the tiles on a master computer.
- Then run the PowerShell command Export-StartLayout -Path C:\temp\startlayout.xml to create the XML file with the current Start menu layout.
- To use the new feature introduced in Windows 10 1511 that allows you to configure different sections in the Start menu, you have to edit the XML file. By default, the exported XML file contains the commands to totally lock the Start menu. The following line needs to be changed to modify the behavior:
Replace this line with the following string:
The screenshot below show a sample XML file used to deploy a partially locked-down Start menu.
- Next, copy the XML file to a file share that the domain computers in your network can access.
- Now use the Group Policy setting Start Layout, which is located under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
- Configure the Group Policy with the path to the XML file that you copied to the file share.
The Group Policy will be applied after the user logs in in the next time.
How to add a new icon to the Start menu ^
Whenever you want to add a new tile to the controlled part of the Start menu, you have to follow this procedure:
- Add a new tile to the Start menu (Calculator in the example).
- Open a PowerShell console and export the Start menu as a standard user (NOT on an elevated command prompt) with the same PowerShell command as described above.
- Open this new XML file and copy the newly added application to the XML file you used in the Group Policy. The line with the AppuserModeID contains all the required information.
Important notes ^
Before you deploy the Windows 10 Start menu, you have to consider a few things:
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- Only Windows 10 Enterprise supports the Start Layout Group Policy.
- If you apply this Group Policy after the user has modified the Start menu, the Group Policy will remove this setting.
- If the Group Policy doesn’t target the computer anymore, the locked part of the Start menu will be unlocked. As you can see in the screenshot below, the lock from the Corporate shortcuts section has been removed.
- If an application has already been added to the user's Start menu and we add it to the Group Policy, the tile moves from the part controlled by the user to the part controlled by the policy.