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Customize Windows 8 start screen for sysprepped image deployment.

    General discussion

  • I am attempting to customize the start screen of a windows 8 Pro image for deployment. I have been searching and reading different threads well as technet articles but I have not found anything that works or is not completely documented.

    I have tried the three methods outlined in the technet about customizing the start screen with no luck. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134269.aspx

    The CopyProfile option does not work. Even after enabling the administrator account in audit mode the start screen tiles are not saved after sysprepping.

    Copying the AppFolderLayout.bin file or appsFolder.itemdata-ms to the default user profile does not work. The file is overwritten during the oobe process. I have added these files after sysprepping the image. They are overwritten in the default user profile during oobe before the new user is created.

    Using the StartTiles section of unattend would be the best option that will require fewer manual steps but only seems to be able to add new tiles. I cannot remove tiles or change order with StartTiles.

    My unattend.xml file is here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10327232/unattend.xml

    If anyone has a method that works for them please let me know. Especially if this can be automated using unattend.xml

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013 10:21 PM

All replies

  • remove the <StartTiles></StartTiles> entries from the XML. I think this overrides the appsFolder.itemdata-ms.

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2012/10/26/start-screen-customization-with-mdt.aspx


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Thursday, May 02, 2013 5:01 AM
  • Yes, I believe it does. However I had tried copying those files to the default profile before I had attempted to use StartTiles. They were still removed during oobe.
    Thursday, May 02, 2013 3:42 PM
  • Use the first logon command to copy the file to your currently created profile and to the default profile and reboot the system. Does this work?

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Thursday, May 02, 2013 6:35 PM
  • No, the files are still overwritten. I added a cmd file to be run using the FirstLogonCommands section. I know that the cmd file ran successfully because I also created a new file on the desktop just so I know that it actually ran.

    Here is my unattend.xml file: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10327232/unattend.xml

    And the contents of the cmd file:

    copy "c:\windows\system32\sysprep\appsFolder.itemdata-ms" "c:\users\licensed user\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\"
    copy "c:\windows\system32\sysprep\appsFolderLayout.bin" "c:\users\licensed user\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\"
    mkdir "c:\users\licensed user\desktop\testfolder"

    Thursday, May 02, 2013 11:23 PM
  • look at the %errorlevel% which is returned from the copy program.

    http://windowsitpro.com/scripting/testing-success


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"


    Friday, May 03, 2013 5:01 AM
  • The errorlevel is 0. The files are copied and then overwritten at first login. Furthermore using the firstlogoncommands is not adequate as the commands are not run if an oem key is used.
    Friday, May 03, 2013 5:04 PM
  • Can you use the old RunOne(Ex) registry keys to execute the copy of the files?

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Friday, May 03, 2013 7:54 PM
  • Result is the same. Files are overwritten when the start screen is loaded for the first time.
    Friday, May 03, 2013 10:09 PM
  • now my last idea. Mount the install.wim with DISM and copy the file to the default folder, unmount and commit the WIM.

    Does this work?


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Saturday, May 04, 2013 7:29 AM
  • That was essentially my first method. I syspreped, shutdown, and captured a wim file. Then mounted and made sure that the file was still the correct version. It had not been overwritten at this point. It was in the default user profile. After applying the wim file and starting windows the file is always overwritten when the user logs in for the first time.

    Saturday, May 04, 2013 5:08 PM
  • I have no other idea.

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Saturday, May 04, 2013 7:05 PM
  • Copying the AppFolderLayout.bin file or appsFolder.itemdata-ms to the default user profile does not work.

    I think Niall's procedure sounds a bit more complicated than that.   ; )

    http://www.windows-noob.com/forums/index.php?/topic/8101-using-system-center-2012-configuration-manager-part-13-deploying-windows-8-x64-with-custom-start-screen/

    Also, regarding removal specifically, did you see Antony Mann's reference to the PowerShell DISM module?

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w8itproinstall/thread/cbe566f9-fe40-4344-9e7d-1dbf72178429#a59888a6-5196-47b9-91c0-9ddba6a26384

    Other good references available then via

    (Bing search for
        RemoveAppxProvisionedPackage
    )

     
    HTH

     
    Robert Aldwinckle
    ---

    Sunday, May 05, 2013 2:56 AM
  • It sounds more complicated because he is going over the entire setup, and deployment process using system configuration manager. I am not using system configuration manager. The relevant bit about half way down is this: 

    xcopy ".\*.*" "D:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows" /D /E /C /I /Q /H /R /Y /S

    The task sequence copies the file AppFolderLayout.bin to the default user's profile during setup. That is the same thing I have done. The question then is why does this work for him? Is it possible that this only works in Windows 8 Enterprise?

    The other option you have provided will remove the app from the computer. I do not want to remove the apps, I simply want to unpin them from the start screen.


    • Edited by esgaroth Tuesday, May 07, 2013 11:12 PM
    Tuesday, May 07, 2013 10:20 PM
  • I use the AppsFolderLayout.bin myself, but I ONLY use that file.  I do not use the appsFolder.itemdata-ms at the same time.  You might be confusing the setup by trying to put both in place.  Try with just the AppsFolderLayout.bin (and putting it into the Default users folder works great, so that each new user has it in their profile to start).

    David Coulter | http://DCtheGeek.blogspot.com | @DCtheGeek

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013 1:34 AM
  • Thats what I tried first since that is what the technet article instructed. I only attempted copying the appsFolder.itemdata-ms files because I know that you can copy that file from one profile to another and it will copy the start screen.

    Are you using the enterprise version of windows 8? If not and it does in fact work for you, then I must be doing something wrong. 

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013 7:10 AM
  • You are right, I am using Enterprise.  However, according to this (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134269.aspx) article, it works on Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows Server 2012, or a domain-joined PC running Windows 8 Pro.

    Is the PC that's not working with AppsFolderLayout.bin joined to a domain?


    David Coulter | http://DCtheGeek.blogspot.com | @DCtheGeek

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013 1:14 PM
  • No it is not. So it looks like Microsoft does not allow customization of the start screen on a non domain pc running Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro.
    Wednesday, May 08, 2013 4:40 PM
  • Correct.  You could try using Smart Tiles from your Unattend.xml: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134269.aspx#BKMK_StartTiles

    But based on the text at the beginning of that page, I'd still expect it not to work in a non-domain joined Windows 8 Pro.  Sorry. =/


    David Coulter | http://DCtheGeek.blogspot.com | @DCtheGeek

    Thursday, May 09, 2013 3:25 AM
  • SmartTiles does work, but only allows you to add tiles. You cannot remove them.
    Thursday, May 09, 2013 4:07 PM