The Windows 8.1 Start Screen can be utilized as an important tool to all employees of respected organizations to be kept informed.  One of the challenges faced by IT Professionals is the need to properly setup said Start Screen.  This is to ensure employees gain immediate gratification in regards to the company dashboard like functionality a properly setup Start Screen can provide.  Traditionally a Windows Server 2012 R2 Group Policy enforces the company wide Start Screen on behalf of the organization's employees.  However recently PowerShell was provided the ability via two cmdlets two to export a customized Start screen and then import the configuration to the default user profile. This Step-By-Step will guide you through this process.

Step 1: Defining and Exporting the Required Start Screen Layout

  1. Setup the start screen on an existing Windows 8.1 machine as to the desired layout
     
  2. Once the selected Start Screen has been customized and while still on the Start Screen type PowerShell
     
  3. Highlight the searched app and press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER on the keyboard to run PowerShell in elevated mode
     
  4. Run the following command in the PowerShell console: export-startlayout -as bin -path c: \customstartscreenlayout.bin –verbose
     

Step 2: Importing the Customized Layout
 
Once the Start screen customization file has been successfully created, the following PowerShell import cmdlet can be used to customize the default user profile on either on a live machine from an elevated PowerShell console, as part of a script to build a new machine, via a Microsoft Deployment Tool (MDT) task sequence or through System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

  1. Run the following command in an elevated PowerShell console: import-startlayout -layoutpath c:\customstartscreenlayout.bin -mountpath %systemdrive%\
     

PowerShell is a great tool to automate many of the tasks IT Professionals perform on a daily basis.  Visit Microsoft Virtual Academy to learn more in regards to enhancing those skills.