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How can I customize the start screen in Windows 10 using Intune



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Introduction

I've been doing a lot of testing with Windows AutoPilot recently (blog post coming soon), and as part of that testing, I wanted my Windows 10 version 1709 (Fall Creators update) devices to have a customized start screen (or start menu as people often refer to it) with some Office applications and device configuration profiles installed. The ability to customize the start menu in Windows 10 is nothing new but I ran into some issues with the process, as I was using a 32 bit  version of the Office Suite so I thought I'd document the fix here.

The issue I observed was that after creating the XML file, importing it into Intune and deploying it out to Windows 10 devices, instead of getting the Office icons in the start screen, they got blank boxes, and those boxes never populated with icons even after Office was installed. Some internet searching and digging found the answer but it wasn't that clear what you had to do, hence this guide.

A newly installed Windows 10 version 1709 start menu can look quite a consumer oriented mess, such as the one shown below. This is definitely not what you want to see in your Enterprise. In this post you will deploy the Office 365 suite to Windows 10 version 1709 devices and then customize the start menu before capturing it to an XML file, editing the XML file and then deploying it using Intune.

consumer menu.png

Note: When a full Start layout is applied with this method, the users cannot pin, unpin, or uninstall apps from Start. Users can view and open all apps in the All Apps view, but they cannot pin any apps to Start. When a partial Start layout is applied, the contents of the specified tile groups cannot be changed, but users can move those groups, and can also create and customize their own groups.

Step 1. Configure the Office 365 suite in Intune (optional)

Customizing a start menu makes sense in an Office environment particularly when your users expect their Office apps are easy to reach. But before you can do that you'll configure Office to install on some Windows 10 devices. In the Intune service in Azure, click on Mobile Apps, and then select Apps.

mobile apps then apps.png

Click on + Add and then select Office 365 Suite and Windows 10.

office 365 suite.png

Click on Configure App Suite, make your selections and click OK

select office apps to be assigned.png

Next click on App Suite Information, fill in the information and click ok.

app suite information.png

and next click on App Suite Settings, make your choices for Servicing (Office Updates) and Language options and click on OK then OK again. As I like to use WIP I have selected Monthly (targeted) to get the latest versions of office quickly.

Note: When choosing whether you want to assign the 32-bit, or 64-bit version of Office. You can install the 32-bit version on both 32-bit, and 64-bit devices, but you can only install the 64-bit version on 64-bit devices.

app suite settings.png

When done configuring click on Add.

add.png

Next you need to Assign (deploy) the Office Suite to a group of users by clicking on Assignments.

assign it to a group.png

After clicking on Assignments, select a Group of users, then select the type of assignment, in this case I choose Required so that it is automatically installed. Click on Save when done.

select group.png

For more info on Configuring the Office 365 Suite in Intune see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/intune/apps-add-office365

Step 2. Customize the start menu on a Windows 10 device

On an enrolled Windows 10 device, login as a user that is targeted with the Office 365 Suite assignment created in Step 1, and wait until the Office 365 suite has deployed. You can verify this in Intune using the App install status for the user (or device) by selecting the app in Monitor, App Install Status.

app install status.png

Once the Office 365 Suite is installed, start customizing the Start menu by unpinning unwanted apps by right clicking on an app you want to remove, and choosing Unpin from Start.

unpin from start.png

After you've unpinned all the apps you want removed, it's time to pin your Office apps, to do that, highlight an Office app, right click and choose Pin to Start.

pin to start.png

repeat the above until you have all the apps you want to appear on the start screen, in the size and location of your choice. Give the Office group a name by typing text above it. After you are done you'll have a finished start screen something like this one.

start screen done.png

 

Step 3. Export the start screen

Start PowerShell as Administrator on the device with the customized start screen. Export the start screen using the following command

Export-StartLayout -path C:\startmenu.xml

export start.png

Note: If the Start layout that you export contains tiles for desktop (Win32) apps or .url links, Export-StartLayout will use DesktopApplicationLinkPath in the resulting file. Use a text or XML editor to change DesktopApplicationLinkPath to DesktopApplicationID. See Specify Start tiles for details on using the app ID in place of the link path.

As you selected Office 365 Suite with 32 bit architecture, you'll need to modify the XML file otherwise no Icons will appear on the users start screen. But before doing that you'll need to identify the DesktopApplicationID for each Office App in the start screen.

To do that, list the start apps using Get-StartApps cmdlet.

get start apps.png

Now that you have the info needed, you can modify the XML file. Using notepad or an XML editor, open the file C:\StartMenu.xml

notepad xml.png

Replace all instances of DesktopApplicationLinkPath with DesktopApplicationID.

replace all.png

Next, replace the DesktopApplicationLinkPath text eg: "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Excel 2016.lnk" for each office app, with the correspoonding AppID from the Get-StartApps cmdlet eg: "Microsoft.Office.EXCEL.EXE.15"

Here you can see the modified xml file.

modified start menu.png

Save the modified file to your Desktop. Here is a copy of the modified file for your information.

startmenu.xml

Step 4. Create a device configuration profile in Intune

In Intune in Azure, click on Device Configuration, click on Profiles and then click on + Create Profile.

create profile.png

In the Create Profile blade, give it a suitable name such as Windows 10 - Office 365 suite start screen (so you can easily search for it later) and choose Windows 10 and later as the platform and then select Device restrictions.

create profile blade.png

For Settings, click on Start (from the options available, scroll down) and then select the previously created XML file.

start menu settings.png

There are many more settings which you can configure in the Start settings, but for now, this is all you will configure. Click on OK when done, then click OK again, and finally click Create.

Next, you need to Assign the device restriction, so click on Assignments and assign it to the User Group that you deployed Office to, in this case, the Office 365 suite users group.

assigned to office 365 suite users.png

Click on Save when done.

Step 5. Review the end result

On a Windows 10 version 1709 device sign in with credentials of a user that is in the Office 365 Suite users Group.

If you login immediately after enrolling, then the Office 365 suite will not yet be installed, but it will have pulled down the policies including the custom start screen, it will look like so...

icons not populated yet.png

This is expected behavior and all the user has to do is wait until Office 365 get's installed (12 minutes or so). The icons will automatically appear as soon as each app is installed.

Start-menu-populating.gif

And here it is, job done !

everything done.png

 

Recommended reading

 

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2 minutes ago, herminator1976 said:

Hi Ronni.

Tried to upload both a custom created .xml and your example, but nothing gets applied. No errors.

Ronni ?

most people get my name wrong but Ronni is a first :-/

 

but as regards your xml not applying, did you follow all the steps in my guide or did you do something differently

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2 minutes ago, anyweb said:

 

Ronni ?

most people get my name wrong but Ronni is a first :-/

 

but as regards your xml not applying, did you follow all the steps in my guide or did you do something differently

Haha, sorry, mixed to posts here now. 

Yes I followed your steps exactly.

 

regards Herman

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and are you following my guide 100% or are you deviating from it.... which version of the Office 365 Suite did you pick (x64 or x86) ?

from your error it looks like the Intune service is not available, did you try again ?

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ok in my guide i'm using 32 bit.... (the default)

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I am a complete newbie to Intune.

I followed the guide to deploy Office to my test users.
However it never installs.

How do I begin troubleshooting?

I noticed that in the portal, the number of Intune enrolled devices is zero.
On my test computer, I logged in as my test user.
What additional step do I need to do to have the machine show up as Intune enrolled device?

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hi Zer0,

you need to enroll your devices before they get policy, and it's policy which decides what get's managed, installed and so on,

to enroll the device click on All Settings, Accounts, Access work or school, Connect and enter the credentials of a user that is licensed to use Intune, once it is enrolled you should be able to sync policy and get office installed (and the start menu),

to automate enrollment, follow my guide here.

 

fo

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Hello,

 

I'm trying to deploy a Start Layout in Intune, which is kind of working however the default apps are still displaying alongside the apps I have pinned in my policy:

image.thumb.png.0117ba619481d6784fa20fc780f79018.png+

Would you know why this is, or is this expected behaviour? Ideally I just want the apps I've pinned to display for users.

Thanks!

Edited by Tom1996
  • Sad 1

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did you follow my guide 100% ?

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hi

it doesn't work for me either.

I applied the policy, and it works for the apps that are present on the device when the policy is applied, but if the apps are not yet present, it doesn't work. And since the policy has been applied, then no updating.

For example, Office takes time to download and install. So it never shows on my taskbar or startmenu.

is there a way to delay a policy ?

 

When I install / unroll a device, if I uncheck the policy and wait for all the apps to be pushed to the device, and then apply the policy, it will works.

Edited by doudoufr

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once office is installed those icons will show in the start screen without you needing to do anything, you just need to be patient, this is EXACTLY what it looks like if you keep the start screen open and wait for office to install, once it installs it auto-populates the start screen

 

Start-menu-populating.gif

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it does not on my computers. that's the problem. Either for office or for others apps. If they are not present when the Policy is applied, then, not working. Is it because i also customize the taskbar ?

But if the apps are présents when the Policy is applied to the device, then no pb at all !

 

Some others experts (blogger) says it is by design, and it will come….

Also Microsoft support says that too ! it is by design. You have to unassign the Policy first, enroll your device, wait for the apps to be installed, and then, assign the Policy and Apply !!! 

NOT GOOD ! 🤣

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what version of windows 10 are you testing on, I can  re-verify

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