Windows 8.1 – Customising the Metro tiles – IE shortcuts

I think everyone is well across how to customise the windows 8.1 start tiles – the best article on it (IMO) being

http://stealthpuppy.com/customizing-the-windows-8-1-start-screen-dont-follow-microsofts-guidance/

The quick summary is:

  • Customise your start tiles on one machine
  • Run “Export-StartLayout -As BIN -Path CustomStart.bin -Verbose” from powershell
  • If you already have a Windows 8 configuration package, copy this file to that SCCM package source, then update the package
  • If not, create a Windows 8.1 configuration package, put this file in it, then distribute
  • Update your task sequence as per the below screenshot

Custom

  • Bingo, you’re all done……..ish.

 

You are all done….. until someone asks you to add a shortcut to an IE site. You add the shortcut(s), arrange appropriately, re-export the layout, re-deploy… everything else shows up, but not the shortcuts.

The start tiles are stored under C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts and for IE shortcuts, specifically C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts\Microsoft.InternetExplorer.Default

Under this folder, you will see some whackily named shortcuts, such as “18732639650” etc.

The definition (which is controlled by import-startlayout) is controlled by the file: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\ appsFolder.itemdata-ms

Problem is, unlike the “traditional” start menu, there is no “all users tiles” area to copy them to.

Sure, you could use activesetup to copy these shortcuts into each users directory as a new profile is created… but activesetup is something I try to avoid unless I have to use it…. its a great tool to have available, but in my mind, not a preferable tool.

So I started hunting around for other ways of achieving the same thing.

Even though it doesn’t seem logical to me, I found that if you copy the shortcuts (with the same names) into the “traditional” all users start menu location, then apply your exported start menu, they work for all users logging onto the machine.

So, in short – for IE shortcuts

  • Configure up your start tiles as desired
  • Export the config as per usual
  • Also copy the shortcuts out of C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts\Microsoft.InternetExplorer.Default to your Windows 8.1 configuration package source
  • Update the package
  • Copy these shortcuts into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs in your task sequence prior to performing your import-startmenu command
  • You now have IE shortcuts for all newly logged in users on the start tiles screen

This is kind of covered here – https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/0f578763-4d0c-4853-8665-b787003fc86a/pinned-websites-on-start-screen?forum=w8itproinstall  but its quite vague.

If anyone else has an alternate way, that doesn’t seem to defy logic (placing start menu tiles in the “traditional” start menu location) – i’d be interested to hear it.

 

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