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Win8.1 - deploying start screen tiles works only partly

McKnife
McKnife asked
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Last Modified: 2014-05-20
Hi experts.

This is for you who already deployed a windows 8.1 start screen aka metro/modern start layout. You should be familiar with these two commands:
export-startlayout -as bin -path path...\customstartscreenlayout.bin –verbose
import-startlayout -layoutpath path...\customstartscreenlayout.bin -mountpath c:\

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This code exports my preconfigured start layout and imports it into the default profile...so far so good, but this only works with pinned tiles that belong to installed applications! It does not work with tiles that I create by pinning certain single executables (small tools that need no installation, no matter if those are local or on a share). Those simply don't show up. Tried it on 3 computers, so it will be by design.

A Why is windows so picky about what is being exported, what's the mechanism/idea behind this?
B Can it be done?
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Brad BouchardInformation Systems Security Officer

Commented:
I helped a Server 2012 user with a similar problem.  Can you try running CMD as Administrator and then doing these commands?  Let me know if it works if you do the export from an admin command prompt then import it.  If not report back and we can troubleshoot further.
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Author

Commented:
Sorry, but it does not seem as though you understood what my problem is. I tried to explain that it works, but not for all types of linked applications. It does not work for applications that consist of single executables that have been pinned to the start screen, while it works for all installed applications. Those commands have been executed elevated, by the way.
Brad BouchardInformation Systems Security Officer

Commented:
Ok, well the guy who I helped had to run the command prompt elevated to get his to work so that's what I thought I'd start with as his question pertained to Office products (Word and Excel) being pinned, or not being pinned.

To more directly answer your questions:

A Why is windows so picky about what is being exported, what's the mechanism/idea behind this?
This I cannot tell you, I can only tell you that you aren't the first person to experience this and I'm sure MS is working on something to accommodate this in a future patch/release/update.
B Can it be done?
Perhaps, but I need more info from you.  Did you customize the Start layout for the default profile?  It has to be done for the default profile as it will apply to all other profiles who log on after that.  Also, and again sorry for the elementary questions, but do the files that don't show up as pinned (custom self exe's, etc.) reside on the user's computers that you are trying to import your layout onto?  If they don't then that will cause issues too.  Let me know the answers to these and we can proceed.
Brad BouchardInformation Systems Security Officer

Commented:
Also, have a look at this (from this website:  http://trekker.net/archives/control-the-windows-8-1-start-screen-layout-with-group-policy/)

Interestingly, if I used Office 2013 x86 on both systems, the tiles were correct on both x86 and x64.

What happens if…

The end user has never logged into the PC.
 Assuming you’re getting your Group Policy in place before a Windows 8.1 deployment, this will probably be the most common scenario. In this scenario, the user that logs in will get your configured settings from the XML file.

The end user has logged in and customized his/her Start screen and you’ve configured a new XML file in policy.
 In this scenario, the user’s Start screen will change to your configured XML file. So, you may want to warn end users that the change is coming.

The XML file used in Group Policy is changed or a different file is used.
 The user’s Start screen will be updated at their next logon.

An app (either Metro/Modern or Desktop) is configured in the XML file for the Start screen, but isn’t installed?
 In this scenario, the tile will not show up on the Start screen. If the app does get installed on the computer, it will show up immediately after the install completes on the Start screen.


Do local non-domain users receive the Computer side policy?
 Yes. As long as the user account can access the XML file, it will receive the policy.
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Author

Commented:
Brad, with respect, but I hoped to find someone who knows about this process. It seems that you are no insider here but googling yourself, is this correct? The passage that you point out (bold) is not applicable. The application is a single executable and thus does not have to be installed. It exists locally on all computers as I tried to point out earlier.

Looking at the output file that I created: it's binary. When using "-as xml" instead of bin, I could gain some insight. I pinned procmon and found the line <tile AppID="{35347290-9563-4E85-8956-7ABB5F0373C8}\procmon on one system. On another system, If I pin the same procmon executable there, I find AppID="{FA1154EA-4448-4BFC-A411-FC54B8B4ED75}\procmon

So if you could tell me how these AppIDs get generated and if it's possible to tune this, so the icons do display, then this would be great. But don't try to google it, I spent too much time on it already.
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Brad BouchardInformation Systems Security Officer

Commented:
I have dealt with this, but for Server 2012.  The fix was different than yours obviously but I've seen/dealt with similar issues recently; seems it's becoming more common.  

But, given your far superior knowledge on Googling this matter I will bow out of this question.  Hopefully I can be of assistance to you in the future.
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Author

Commented:
There's not much hope that their is a regular way to solve it because of the waywindows creates its AppIDs. Well, we'll survice this ;)
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