Monday, February 13, 2017

Replace Edge with Internet Explorer on Windows 10 (1607) via Task Sequence (Part II)

My most popular post is how I replaced Edge with IE in Windows 10. Since then, Microsoft made it a substantially easier in version 1607 to do this. IE is still a little wonky though as you'll see. I was able to take it down to two steps. Just the 'customize Start' and 'Copy IE Shortcut to Default Profile' steps. All the highlighted steps were removed and not needed anymore

I'll cover below as it could just be one step depending on your environment. My previous post is still worth a read as I wont rehash parts of it here and it covers some of the mechanics that still apply in 1607.

So what changed? Microsoft expanded how you can modify via the Export-StartLayout and Import-StartLayout PowerShell cmdlets. They have a good article about it here.

Task Bar

For the startbar modification I took the sample from the Technet article and added in the paths to the shortcuts so they get pinned (bolded below). There are some places you will NOT be able to point to such as %PROGRAMDATA% but know that %ALLUSERSPROFILE% points to the same location by default.

Additionally, you can append or replace based on the PinListPlacement element.

 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>  
  <CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection PinListPlacement="Replace">  
     <taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Internet Explorer.lnk" />  
     <taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools\File Explorer.lnk" />  
     <taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Outlook 2016.lnk" />  

As the Technet article states, if you are unsure of the path you can pin it to the start menu and export it to get the path then put that under the taskbar section.

Taskbar is done and tested and was the whole fight in my last article. Way better right? Now onto the Start Menu.

Start Menu

For the Start Menu I setup a clean machine and organized it how I wanted and then exported it via the PowerShell cmdlet.

 Export-StartLayout \\server\path\to\LayoutModification.XML  

In my task sequence I then imported each XML but only the Taskbar was changed. Turns out you can only import ONE XML that manipulates the default desktop. So I had to merge them into one file. I split them thinking we may have a need to modify one over the other and since the Taskbar was imported second it trumped the Start Menu XML.

Heres the bonkers part. The IE shortcut for the Start Menu. This is how I learned that it does not honor %PROGRAMDATA% path to items. You are stuck in the majority to %ALLUSERSPROFILE% and %APPDATA% variable paths.

for my taskbar I am using "%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Internet Explorer.lnk" so I referenced that as well for the Start Menu section. Nope, does not work. %APPDATA% points to your roaming profile. My suspicion is that the Start menu is created a little earlier in the initial login process so it shows up blank due to the legacy profile paths are not created yet.

According to this MSDN article that f you are pointing to a third-party Classic Windows application, you must put the .lnk file in a legacy Start Menu directory before first boot. For example, "%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\" or the all users profile located at"%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\". IE falls under this.

With that said though, I am able to point to the IE executable under %PROGRAMFILES%  and use this in the XML

 <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="1x1" Column="0" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%PROGRAMFILES%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" />  

It works, but ONLY for the first user to login. I think Windows modifies the imported XML to update it to %APPDATA%, which if you do an export right after login it reflects this.

 <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="1x1" Column="0" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Internet Explorer.lnk" />  

So on subsequent users logging in they do not get this icon. The first user is fine through all their logins. As many of my firms machines are used by multiple users, I decided to just copy the IE shortcut and point to that in my XML. As all the office shortcuts are put under "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" I just put the IE shortcut there. If you do not want to pin IE to the Start Menu then this is not needed. I have it pinned to both the Task Bar and Start Menu. For the Task Bar I could change to this precopied one or leave as is in the users profile.

Task Sequence

For the task sequence I just have two steps. The 'Customize Start' step is a PowerShell step that calls 'Configure-StartMenu.ps1' that just contains

 Import-StartLayout -LayoutPath .\LayoutModification.xml -MountPath $env:SystemDrive\  

The 'Copy IE shortcut to default profile' step simply copies the file from the package to the default users start.

 xcopy "Internet Explorer.lnk" "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" /E /C /I /H /Y  

I was done! Now that i know about the path issue for IE, the default Start can be updated within a few minutes.

Upon doing some final bare metal VM deployments, I noticed that a Start Menu shortcut for FireFox was missing. Who do we use during deployment? BUILTIN\SYSTEM. This makes me think further that the custom Start Menu is generated at login of ANY user after importation but not applied to an existing user. So by moving the 'Customize Start' step towards the end of the Task Sequence, this was resolved as it ran AFTER applications that are pinned to the Start Menu are installed, like FireFox.



  1. Thanks for the refreshed instructions!

  2. I have a problem. Once I deploy my xml in GPO it works to remove edge and pin IE in the taskbar and users can pin their own items in the taskbar but it locking the start bar so users cannot add their own apps in that area. Has anyone else run into this issue

  3. Hello Chris. I am not using GPO and only ConfigMgr to set it initially as its our culture to empower users to customize the PC if they choose. Since your using GPO I would reference this. Note the warning at the top.

  4. Have you considered or attempted applying these configurations during WinPE while the OS is offline to work around the "First Login" issue?

  5. Hello Jon. The behavior was the same when I handled via PE. The main issue though is the PS1 Import-StartLayout as that would go against the PE instance vs the deployed instance. I ended up just copying a shortcut for IE to use which is mapped for all users.