Changing Surface Hub’s Start Menu


In the January 17, 2018 update for Windows 10, it was announced that Surface Hub now supports the customization of its Start menu layout. This is manageable via MDM. There's a detailed article on how to do it, but let me take you step by step through the process.

This is the Default Start Menu on the Hub:

 

 

Before we start - a few things worth mentioning:

  • You cannot pin Windows Desktop apps or shortcuts to the Start Menu. They simply don't work on the Hub.
  • You can definitely pin website shortcuts to the start menu.
  • Surface Hub can be configured with a 6x6 tile grid.
  • The default Start Menu apps (Calendar, Skype, Whiteboard and "Connect") cannot be changed.

Follow the above guideline for a successful end-user experience.

Tile Structure

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

0

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

1

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

2

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

3

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

4

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

5

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Not Visible

Not Visible

 

The table above demonstrates how tiles can be displayed on the Hub. Use this template to design the Start Menu on your Hub. Although the xml shows 8 columns of tiles (GroupCellWidth=8), only columns 0-5 are visible, so plan accordingly.

How does 6 tiles look like?
When we plan for tiling, we look at the smallest form of tiles. So if you were looking at a standard Windows 10 PC, the six on the top right of the following image is how it would look like:

 

 

How easy is it to create it?

Easy enough;

If you're familiar with Windows 10 Start Menu customization, go ahead and edit the default xml for Surface Hub, you can find it here.
If you're looking for an easier way to complete this task - you can create a custom Start Menu on any Windows 10 device and 'copy' the xml from it. Here are the steps to do it:

Create a new account on a Windows 10 machine

It can be any account - the idea is that you can remove the existing default Strat Menu and create one just for Surface Hub.
So if your new Start Menu looks like this:

 

 

Start by removing all the tiles until you get a clean Start Menu with only the apps list:

 

 

Then pin the first app you want on your new start menu. I chose Microsoft Edge, and other important apps like the xbox app.

 

 

You can pin as many apps as you want and sort them in any design you want, as long as they fit into the 6x6 structure. You can resize, leave spaces and change the appearance to your liking.
Download apps you'll use on the Hub and pin then to the Start Menu you're creating so they'll show up when you import it.
In this case, I downloaded great apps like "A Surface Hub Tour" and "SH Setup Helper":

 

 

You can also create tiles of Internet websites, like you company's internal SharePoint website, or other useful resources. I added a shortcut to this blog, simply by clicking the three dots on the top right corner of the Edge browser and choosing "Pin this page to Start":

 

 

 

And there it is, along with the other apps that I've added:

 

 

Note: If you don't have your desired already installed on the Hubs, you can deploy them using Intune. Follow the steps in my previous post to do so.

Now, export the new Start Menu layout so you can import it later to Intune.
From an elevated PowerShell window, run the following command:

Export-StartLayout -Path C:\YourPath\Start.xml

Then, using a text editor, open the .xml file and edit the following:

 

 

Both <LayoutOptions StartTileGroupCellWidth="6" /> (line 2)  and <defaultlayout:StartLayout GroupCellWidth="6"> (line 5) are set to "6". Change both to "8" and save the changes.

Additionally, if you pinned a web page tile to the Start Menu, you'll notice the DisplayName field may be empty:

 

 

Enter the name of the website (Could be any name you choose) between the quotation marks and save the changes. Next:

Create a Custom Policy in Intune

  • Log on to https://portal.azure.com and go to Microsoft Intune.
  • In Intune, go to Device Configuration, Profiles, Create Profile.
  • Name the new profile Start Menu CSP (Or anything that makes sense to you...), for Platform choose "Windows 10 and later", in "Profile type" choose "Custom".
  • Click "Configure" under "Settings to add the CSP:
  • Under "Name" give it the name of you choice - remember you can deploy several Start Menus to different Hub groups based on the usage profiles, so make sure you also fill in the description (I didn't, I know <facepalm>).
  • In the "OMA-URI" field, enter the following string: ./User/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Start/StartLayout
  • In "Data type", choose "String (XML file)".
  • Browse for the location of the Start.xml file you created and edited earlier, then click OK and save the configuration profile.

 

 

Assign the configuration profile to the appropriate groups and wait for it to sync. You new Start Menu will shortly appear:

 

 

 

Questions or comments - I'd love to hear your thoughts; Are you trying to configure your Surface Hubs and need assistance? let me know in the comments below!

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