PolicyPak MDM: Manage the Windows 10 Start Screen Like a Boss

The Windows 10 Start Menu is a beast to configure, and once configured, it’s not at all dynamic. Instead of leaving the Start Menu to users, YOU be in charge. See this video to get the basics down in minutes, then deploy your settings using the MDM service of your choice!

PolicyPak MDM: Manage the Windows 10 Start Screen Like a Boss

Hi, this is Whitney with PolicyPak Software. In this video, we’re going to learn how you can use PolicyPak Start Screen Manager to manage your users’ start menus in Windows 10. We’re then going to take those directives, wrap them up in an MSI and deploy them using the MDM solution of our choice. In this video, I’ll be using AirWatch, but you can use whatever MDM solution you have, such as Intune or MobileIron.

When you first roll out Windows 10, you’ll notice on the Start Screen it has kind of a lot of junk in here. Maybe you want it; maybe you don’t. Either way, it can be really tedious to manage this using the in-the-box Microsoft method. It involves golden images, XML, PowerShell. The problem is in addition to being tedious, it also isn’t particularly dynamic. If you want to change anything, you have to go through that whole golden image business all over again. We’re going to use the PolicyPak method and then deploy it using an MDM solution.

To start off with, let’s note that I am not domain joined right here. I could be and it wouldn’t change anything, but for this component that is not a necessity. We’re also going to see that I am indeed “Connected to AirWatchMDM MDM” service. Once again, I’m using AirWatch, but you can use your solution of choice.

Finally, I want to point out that I do have the “PolicyPak Client-Side Extension” and the “PolicyPak MDM Licenses for PolicyPak” already installed on my machine here. This is my endpoint, and I have to have those two moving parts to be able to make any of the future directives work.

So we’ve figured out what the problem is; now let’s figure out how to fix it. I’m going to go over to my management station here, and I’m going to go ahead and open up my “Console” here, my GPMC. I’m going to create a “New GPO.” It doesn’t have to be in any particular OU. I’m just going to call it “SSM Settings.” I’m going to go “Edit” this bad boy.

This can be done on the computer side or the user side. It’s up to you. Whatever is best for your environment. I’m just going to go over to the computer side for now. I’m going to go choose the “Start Screen Manager for Windows 10” right here. The “Start Screen Manager” you have to start with “ADD NEW COLLECTION.” Right now, I’m going to just leave it being called “Collection 1” since we’re only doing the one.

You have some choices to make here. You can either use “PARTIAL” or “FULL.” “PARTIAL” means that it will merge your settings with the settings that already exist on the machine and users can still create their own groups and pin their own tiles. “FULL” means that you’re going to completely blow away what is already there and the user can no longer pin their own tiles. I’m going to go ahead and choose “PARTIAL” for this demo today.

I’m going to go ahead and create that collection. Within that collection, I’m going to create a group. The group is what’s going to contain my pinned tiles. I’m going to “ADD NEW GROUP.” I’m just going to call this “Important Apps.” I’m going to leave all of this as it is set already, and I’ll tell it “OK.”

Within that group, I can start pinning tiles. I can pin three different types of tiles. I can do a universal app, a desktop application or an Edge tile. Let’s go ahead and pin all three. I’ll start by clicking the “ADD UNIVERSAL APP” button, and we’ll get a wizard that we’ll just work our through. We’ll click “Next.”

Now we’ll decide which application we want. I think “Calculator” is a pretty important app. We’ll click “Next.” Let’s go big or go home. Let’s make it “Large.” Universal apps get three different tile sizes, and so we’re going to choose “Large.” I’m just going to call it “Big Calculator,” and we’ll “Finish” that out.

Then I’m going to “ADD NEW DESKTOP APPLICATION.” Now it’s recommended that when you’re doing these pinnings that you pin from a management station that has the same applications as your endpoints will. If that’s not possible, we have a helper utility that will make that work for you but we’ll have to go over that in a different video.

We’re going to choose our “Registered application” here, and I’m going to wait for it to find all the applications on this machine that I’m working on. I’m going to pin “Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.” I know that is on my endpoint as well, so I’m going to choose to pin that one. The desktop applications only get two tile sizes. I see no reason to be “Small,” so let’s go “Medium.” We’ll click “Next,” and we’ll just call this “Acrobat” and that’s that.

Finally, an Edge tile is basically a link so that when you click on it, it opens Edge and opens the link of your choice. So we will choose “ADD EDGE TILE.” We’ll give it a “Display name.” I’ll just go with “PolicyPak.” The “URL” you can “Select from favorites” here if you want to, but I’m just going to type it in here and click “Next.” I can do “Small,” “Medium” or “Wide.” I’m going to choose to make a “Wide” tile and click “Next.” We’ll give it the “Policy Name” “PolicyPak Link” and “Finish.”

Great. Now we’ve created a group, and we’ve pinned three different tiles. We need to be able to wrap that in an MSI somehow and send it over to our non-domain joined MDM enrolled machine. To do that, what we’re going to do is start by going back to “Collection 1” here. I’m going to right click and choose “Export Collection as XML.” I’m just going to put it right on the “Desktop.” I’ll just call it “SSM Settings.” It will pop up right there on the desktop in just a moment. There it is.

Now what we need to do is use the PolicyPak Exporter Tool in order to wrap that XML up in that MSI so we can deploy it to our MDM enrolled machines. Let’s go to the “PolicyPak Exporter Tool” which installs alongside the admin console MSI. We’re going to use it to “Create a new MSI installer.” We’ll choose “Next.”

We’re going to “Add Existing Files.” We will choose our “SSM Settings.” It’s going to “Install For” “Computer” with a “Target” of “All Users.” We’ll choose “Next.” We can give it a “Product Name,” which is what’s going to show up on “Uninstall or change a program” in your Control Panel. We’ll call it “PPSSM Settings.” It will ask us where we want to save it. We’ll just call it the same thing and save it right on the “Desktop.” It will pop up right here. There we go, and we’re done.

The next thing I need to do is go log in to my AirWatch Console and upload it so that it can then get deployed to my endpoint. However, since that takes a little while, I’m going to go ahead and pause the video before I upload and deploy. Then we’ll come right back as soon as that’s done.

Now I do just want to point out once again that we already have deployed the “PolicyPak Client-Side Extension” and the “PolicyPak MDM Licenses.” We mentioned that earlier in the video. Just pointing it out again. Those are what needs to be deployed in order to make anything else work. We’ll pause the video, and we’ll come back once we have everything deployed.

And we’re back. I’m showing you right here that we do indeed have those Start Screen Manager settings (“PPSSM Settings”) installed on our machine. Once we close that out, we can go look at our Start Screen. There we go. We have the “Important Apps” just like we directed.

If I click on any of these, it takes me just exactly where it’s supposed to. The “Calculator” works. “Adobe Acrobat Reader DC” opens right up. If I go to the Edge tile, then we’ll go to “www.policypak.com.” So they all are there and they all work.

Now notice that there are still the original groups still there and the original pins. That is because when we created the collection, we chose the PARTIAL (PRESERVE) option. That is why we preserved what was already there. If we had gone FULL (REPLACE), then it would have knocked everything out of here and it would have made it so that users could not change their Start Screen anymore. One is a little looser; one is little more strict. It’s up to you to decide which one you want.

One other thing before we go, I just want to point out if I want to try to drag a tile over here, I can’t. This is a “Locked group.” Even though I can decide that I don’t want the “Xbox” anymore to be there, I can’t change the group that you dictated using PolicyPak.

So there we are. If that’s interesting for you, then let us know. We’ll be happy to get you started with a free trial right away.

Look forward to seeing you in the next video. Thanks.

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