Windows 11

Customizing the Windows 11 22H2 Start menu layout

When Windows 11 shipped, the Start menu wasn’t particularly flexible. One of the biggest losses was the ability to group apps into folders. With the release of Windows 11 Insider build 22557, that capability is back. The mechanism might not be immediately obvious — I looked for a right-click menu to create a group, but that doesn’t work. The answer is simpler, just drag one pinned app on top of another one, and the two of them will become part of a new group, which you can name after it is created.

Simple enough. Of course my interest is in the customization of the Start menu layout, as I did with the RTM version of Windows 11 in this blog post. So, it’s a good time to repeat the process to see what groups look like:

  • Manually configure the layout you want.
  • Export the layout using PowerShell “Export-StartLayout” into a JSON file.
  • Deploy the JSON contents via a “ConfigureStartPins” MDM policy.

Here’s the results of the second step:

Nice, simple, straight-forward JSON. But I do see a couple of issues:

  1. The Edge icon uses a long “desktopAppLink” instead of the short “desktopAppId” that you got when you exported the non-grouped Edge in Windows 11 RTM (as you can see in the previous blog). Hopefully that one is inconsequential.
  2. The group isn’t there. So, when deploying this JSON, you’ll just get individual items.

So let’s try it out to see what happens anyway. When I push the new JSON string out via my MDM server, here’s the visible result:

Hmmf. That didn’t work at all, back to the default layout. The setting was definitely received, as we can see it in the registry:

And the previous pinnedList that I used worked (pinning only Edge). So, it looks like it doesn’t like the Edge icon (since there is no group). One more try with a manually-edited JSON string:

{“pinnedList”:[ { “desktopAppId”: “MSEdge”}, { “packagedAppId”:”Microsoft.WindowsCalculator_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App” } ] }

At least this time I got the right two icons pinned. Let’s hope they’re still working on the group part and can get that fixed before the Windows 11 22H2 release.

(One other unrelated oddity I saw with this build: the VM is registered with Autopilot with a user-driven AAD profile assigned. It worked great the first time, but each time I reset the VM and started over, it failed to get an Autopilot profile and went through the normal non-Autopilot OOBE flow. Let’s hope that problem goes away too…)

Categories: Windows 11

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