Windows 8.1 Enterprise Now Allows Admins To Control Start Screen Layout

Start Screen Layout

Windows 8.1 Enterprise now includes a new feature called Start screen control. This is for IT admins to would like to control the Start screen layout for group of users and preventing them from making changed to the layout. For example, IT admin can decide to always have Office apps tiles on the start screen.

How to do this?

So you arrange the layout like so:

Once arranged, you can export this layout into an XML file using a simple PowerShell command:

PS C:> Export-StartLayout –As XML –Path \contoso-mgmtLayouts$ManagedUser.xml

Next, you can specify a path to this layout file using Active Directory Group Policy. From the Group Policy Management Editor, navigate to “User Configuration Policies Administrator Templates Start Menu and Taskbar” where you can find the “Start Screen Layout” policy setting:

Enable this setting and specify the path to the layout file that you exported using PowerShell. (Make sure to use a path that is accessible to the users.)

Now all that remains is trying it out. Ensure that the group policy containing that setting has been targeted to a user, then log in as that user. What you will see is the identical Start screen layout that you had configured before:

And the user won’t be able to make any changes – no new items, no removing items, no rearranging items. The layout is completely locked. If you have different layouts that you want to use for different users, just repeat this process and target a different layout file via different group policies. If you want to make changes to the layout, you can update the XML layout file and those changes will appear the next time the user logs in.

Source: Windows Blog

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