[wix-users] Customizing Start Screen with XML

Jay Michaud jay_m_michaud at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 28 16:22:59 PDT 2016

There is no programmatic way to pin your program to the Start menu because Microsoft designed this to be a user preference. Please do not attempt to do this in your installer or in the code of the application itself. The good news is that it sounds like this is an internal application, so your IT administrators can control the user experience through Group Policy as you mentioned.

I've already put Windows 8 and 8.1 out of my mind, but in Windows 10, the default Start menu layout modification XML file from the default user profile is only read when a new user profile is created. Thereafter, the pinned items on the Start menu are managed in a database within %LOCALAPPDATA%, if I recall correctly. (This is not documented, and Microsoft can change how it works at any time. I found it through study.) Applications installed using Windows Installer should put their program shortcuts under "%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" as usual. The Start menu setting "Show recently added apps" is turned on by default in Windows 10, so your program will appear at the top of the All Programs list immediately after it is installed. To force a program icon to be pinned to the Start menu, an IT administrator can apply a layout modification XML file with Group Policy, but this prevents users from making any changes of their own. Again, this is an administrative activity and not an installation activity. For information on creating and capturing a Start menu layout for use with Group Policy, please see the TechNet documentation for the Export-StartLayout PowerShell cmdlet. You may also want to look into whether there is a Group Policy that automatically pins newly installed desktop applications; it seems like I saw something about that, but I never looked into it. If that exists, it would allow your organization's administrators to pin all newly installed apps while perhaps still letting users make changes.

For a different approach, you can repackage desktop apps as Windows Store apps (APPX) with a tool from Microsoft, and when that happens, you can actually specify a tile. If you go that route, though, you either have to deploy from the Windows Store or sideload the app. I believe that FireGiant's tool, "AppX Extension for the WiX Toolset" has done the same thing for a while, even before the release of Anniversary Update.

Also, you are correct about the features of the Education edition. The Education edition of Windows 10 is identical to the Enterprise in terms of features except that in the Anniversary Update, Cortana is removed from the Education edition. (The other differences are related to licensing and which pre-existing OSes they can upgrade.)

I hope this is helpful.

Jay Michaud

-----Original Message-----
From: wix-users [mailto:wix-users-bounces at lists.wixtoolset.org] On Behalf Of Douglas, Keith (STATCAN)
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2016 10:23 AM
To: WiX Toolset Users Mailing List <wix-users at lists.wixtoolset.org>
Subject: [wix-users] Customizing Start Screen with XML

A (software developer) colleague is wondering about getting custom "Start Screen" tiles for our applications. Apparently in Enterprise (and Education?) versions of Windows one can use an XML layout file and group policy to do this. Are there any gotchas with using Util:XmlConfig in all our application packages and creating a tile in the Start Screen this way? Our colleagues in Imaging have already put our required calculator and Viewers (Excel, etc.) in manually for our users, so the relevant GPO already exists.


Keith Douglas

Programmer Analyst, Collection Systems Division Statistics Canada / Government of Canada Keith.Douglas at canada.ca<mailto:Keith.Douglas at canada.ca> / Tel : 613-854-5589

Programmeur analyste, Division des systèmes de collecte Statistique Canada / Gouvernenment du Canada Keith.Douglas at canada.ca<mailto:Keith.Douglas at canada.ca> / Tél :613-854-5589

WiX Toolset Users Mailing List provided by FireGiant http://www.firegiant.com/

More information about the wix-users mailing list