Customize the Start layout

You can customize the Start layout by creating a LayoutModification.xml file and configuring the settings. To determine the overall look of the Start layout, the default layout is applied based on SKU and region, and then the LayoutModification.xml or Unattend.xml file is processed.

You can customize the following aspects of the Start layout:

  • The size, including the number of columns and number of tiles per row
  • The tiles in both OEM Groups; including the size, position, and the app or web link associated with each tile
  • The display layout for the Microsoft Office suite of tiles
  • Create Start layouts for each region you support

After customizing the Start layout, use Windows Configuration Designer to add the file to the device image. See Add the LayoutModification.xml file to the device for instructions.

LayoutModification.xml

The XML schema for LayoutModification.xml requires the following order for tags directly under the LayoutModificationTemplate node:

  1. LayoutOptions
  2. RequiredStartGroupsCollection
  3. AppendDownloadOfficeTile –OR– AppendOfficeSuite (only one Office option can be used at a time)

Comments are not supported in the LayoutModification.xml file.

For an inclusive list of settings you can configure in LayoutModification.xml, a full XML example, and instructions on adding the XML file to the device, see Start layout XML for desktop editions of Windows 10 (Reference)

Customize the size of the Start layout

We recommend that you set the default Start layout so it is not greater than 40% of the size of the desktop. If it is greater than half the width of the desktop, customers might perceive that the device and Windows are optimized only for touch, and feel less satisfied when they use a mouse and keyboard.

Use LayoutOptions in LayoutModification.xml to indicate the number of columns, and the number of tiles per row, in the Start layout.

Specify the number of columns in the Start layout

You have three options for the Start layout size: small (one column of tiles), medium (2 columns of tiles), or full screen. New devices running Windows for desktop will default to a Start layout with two columns of tiles unless boot to tablet mode is enabled. Devices with screens that are under 10" have boot to tablet mode enabled by default. For these devices, users see the full screen Start layout on the desktop.

Note

We suggest you leave the default values for these features so that Windows can use its own logic to do the right thing for the customer. You can, however, adjust the following OS features if you have a scenario that requires it. For example, if you have a device that is meant mainly for use as a tablet, but is bigger than 10", you can use SignInMode.

Here is how you set the size of the start layout, using LayoutModification.xml.

  • To set as small, with one column of tiles:

    <LayoutOptions
       StartTileGroupsColumnCount="1"
       FullScreenStart="false"
    />
    
  • To set as medium, with two columns of tiles:

    <LayoutOptions
       StartTileGroupsColumnCount="2"
       FullScreenStart="false"
    />
    
  • To set as full screen (and set the default to one column if the user disables full screen):

    <LayoutOptions
       StartTileGroupsColumnCount="1"
       FullScreenStart="true"
    />
    

Important

Setting FullScreenStart to true requires rebooting the device to take effect.

Specify the number of tiles per row in the Start layout

You can configure your Start layout to show either 6 or 8 medium tiles per row using StartTileGroupCellWidth in LayoutModification.xml.

We recommend you configure this setting to optimize the Start layout for the size of your device's screen. If this setting is not configured in LayoutModification.xml, Windows will use its own logic to set the number of tiles per row.

<LayoutModificationTemplate
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification"
    xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout"
    xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout"
    Version="1">
    <LayoutOptions StartTileGroupCellWidth="8" />
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

The number of tiles you select will be divided evenly between the two columns in the Start layout. For example, if you choose to show 6 medium tiles per row, each columns will contain 3 tiles.

Customize OEM Groups in the Start layout

You can pin tiles in up to two OEM groups. You'll specify the OEM groups, and tiles they contain, in LayoutModification.xml. The first group you specify in LayoutModification.xml will be placed in the first open, available part of the Start layout, scanning top to bottom. If you've specified a second OEM group in LayoutMofication.xml, it will placed after the first group, in the first open, available part of the Start layout, scanning top to bottom.

If you have StartTileGroupCellWidth set to 6 in LayoutModification.xml, the OEM group will be 3 medium tiles wide by 3 high. If you have StartTileGroupCellWidth set to 8, the OEM group will be 4 medium tiles wide (group one is 3 tiles high by 4 wide, and group two is 2 high by 4 wide).

Here is an example that shows a Start layout with two OEM groups:

Start layout with 2 OEM groups

In the example above, StartTileGroupCellWidth is set to 6, and StartTileGroupsColumnCount is set to 2. Subsequently, the Start layout shows 2 columns of tiles, and each row is 6 medium tiles long.

Customize the size and position of tiles in the OEM Groups

The LayoutModification.xml file allows four tile size options for each tile you add to your OEM groups. The available tile sizes are:

  • Small tile: 1x1
  • Medium square tile: 2x2
  • Wide tile: 4x2
  • Large tile: 4x4

The Row and Column elements determine the position of the upper, left edge of the tile within the group. The 0,0 position is the first row, first column.

For example, here is a Start layout with the row and column grid overlaid.

Start layout grid

You can configure each of your tiles to launch:

  • A Universal Windows app (using the start:Tile tag)
  • A Windows 8 or 8.1 app (using the start:Tile tag)
  • A desktop application (using the start:DesktopApplicationTile tag)
  • A web link that opens in the default browser (using the start:DesktopApplicationTile tag)
  • A web link that opens in Edge (using the start:SecondaryTile tag)

Note

Each tile pinned to the Start layout can launch a single UWP app, Microsoft Store app, desktop app, or web link. A tile can’t be a group of apps or a folder.

App tiles

You can add an app tile that will launch a Universal Windows app, or a Windows 8/8.1 app, using start:Tile in LayoutModification.xml. To specify the app you wish the launch, you must set the AppUserModelID attribute of start:Tile to the application user model ID (AUMID) associated with the app. The AUMID is case-sensitive.

Important

In Windows 10, version 1803, all apps must either be pinned to the Start layout, and/or pre-installed using the new region parameter in DISM, otherwise they will be removed on any system that uses that layout. See Preinstall apps using DISM for guidance on using the new parameter.

The following example shows how to pin the Microsoft Edge Universal Windows app:

<start:Tile
  AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge"
  Size="2x2"
  Row="0"
  Column="0"/>

You can use the start:DesktopApplicationTile tag to pin a Windows desktop application to Start. There are two ways you can specify a Windows desktop application:

  • By setting DesktopApplicationLinkPath to a path to a shortcut link (.lnk file) to a Windows desktop application.
  • By setting the DesktopApplicationID to the application's ID, if this is known. If the Windows desktop application doesn't have one, use the shortcut link option.

The following example shows how to pin the Command Prompt desktop application using the .lnk method:

<start:DesktopApplicationTile
  DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools\Command Prompt.lnk"
  Size="2x2"
  Row="0"
  Column="4"/>

The following example show how to pin the File Explorer Windows desktop application by specifying the desktop application ID:

<start:DesktopApplicationTile
  DesktopApplicationID="Microsoft.Windows.Explorer"
  Size="2x2"
  Row="0"
  Column="2"/>

You can add a web link tile that will open in the default browser, or you can add a secondary tile that will specifically open in Microsoft Edge. To create a web link tile that will open in the default browser, create a .url file:

  1. Right click on Desktop > New > Shortcut
  2. Type a URL such as http://www.fabrikam.com
  3. Click Next
  4. Type a name for the shortcut such as Fabrikam and click Finish. The .url file is saved to your desktop.
  5. Add the .url file to the image in the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ folder , and then add a DesktopApplicationTile element to LayoutModification.xml:

    <!-- Web link tile with associated .url file in StartMenu folder -->
    <start:DesktopApplicationTile
           DesktopApplicationID="www.Fabrikam.com"
           Size="2x2"
           Row="0"
           Column="2"/>
    

To create a secondary tile (a web link tile that will open in Microsoft Edge), add a SecondaryTile element to LayoutModification.xml and specify Edge in the AppUserModelID attribute.

<!-- Web link tile that launches in Edge -->
<start:SecondaryTile
  AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge"
  TileID="MyWeblinkTile"
  Arguments="http://msn.com"
  DisplayName="MySite"
  Square150x150LogoUri="ms-appx:///Assets/MicrosoftEdgeSquare150x150.png"
  Wide310x150LogoUri="ms-appx:///Assets/MicrosoftEdgeWide310x150.png"
  ShowNameOnSquare150x150Logo="true"
  ShowNameOnWide310x150Logo="false"
  BackgroundColor="#FF112233"
  Size="2x2"
  Row="0"
  Column="4"/>

Note

The Edge tile itself cannot be customized. The icon, text and the page that it launches must remain the default.

The OEM-custom icon and supporting text in the tile must:

  • Logically relate to the activity or action the user is expected to take
  • Launch the Edge browser
  • The icon and supporting text should not imply that it is anything other than Edge (e.g. another browser)
  • The page that it goes to must work in Edge
  • The page should not promote another browser
<start:SecondaryTile AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge"
          TileID="MyWeblinkTile"
          Arguments="http://msn.com"
          DisplayName="MySite"
          Square150x150LogoUri="ms-appx:///Assets/MicrosoftEdgeSquare150x150.png"
          Size="2x2"
          Row="0"
          Column="4"/>

Customize the Office suite of tiles

The Microsoft Office suite of tiles is the first group of tiles in the Start layout. There are a few different options available to customize this suite of tiles.

  • If you've pre-installed Office Desktop Bridge to the device, use the AppendOfficeSuite and AppendOfficeSuiteChoice tags in LayoutModification.xml.
  • If you've pre-installed Office Mobile to the device, use only the AppendOfficeSuite tag in LayoutModification.xml.
  • If you have not pre-installed Office to the device, you can use the AppendDownloadOfficeTile tag in LayoutModification.xml to add a Download Office tile to the suite.

Note

The version of Office you indicate in LayoutModification.xml must match the version of Office that's pre-installed to the device.

Office Desktop Bridge

We recommend pre-installing Office Desktop Bridge on all devices where the screen is 10.1 inches or larger. Office Desktop Bridge is included in the OEM Pre-installation Kit (OPK). After pre-installing Office Desktop Bridge, each Office app appears as a tile in the Office suite of tiles.

In Windows 10, version 1803, add the following two tags to LayoutModification.xml:

  • <AppendOfficeSuite/>
  • <AppendOfficeSuiteChoice Choice="DesktopBridgeSubscription"/>

For example:

 <LayoutModificationTemplate
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification"
    xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout"
    xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout"
    Version="1">
    <AppendOfficeSuite/>
    <AppendOfficeSuiteChoice Choice="DesktopBridgeSubscription"/>
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

This will set the heading of the Office suite of tiles to Office 365, to highlight the Office 365 apps you've made available on the device. For example:

Start layout with Choice=DesktopBridgeSubscription

Note

Tile sizes and positions may vary based on the device SKU, region, and the size of the Start layout.

For older versions of Windows, and for devices shipping with Activation for Office (AFO) Perpetual, add the following two tags to LayoutModification.xml:

  • <AppendOfficeSuite/>
  • <AppendOfficeSuiteChoice Choice="DesktopBridge"/>

This will set the heading to Create. For example:

Start layout with Choice=DesktopBridge

We advise using these tags when AFO Perpetual (Office 2016) is pre-installed to provide the best user experience for your customers. The new Office block of tiles is labeled Office 365, which is not the same as Office 2016, and could be confusing to users.

Office Mobile

We recommend pre-installing Office Mobile apps on all devices where the screen size is smaller than 10.1 inches.

After you've pre-installed Office Mobile apps to the device, use only the AppendOfficeSuite tag in LayoutModification.xml to configure the Start layout. For example:

 <LayoutModificationTemplate
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification"
    xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout"
    xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout"
    Version="1">
    <AppendOfficeSuite/>
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

The Office mobile apps will appear as tiles in the Start layout under the heading Create.

Download Office

If you have not pre-installed Office to the device, you can append the Download Office tile to Start. This replaces the My Office tile that appears in the middle of the second row with the classic desktop app download tile, and supports all OEM scenarios including Activation for Office (AFO) and Pre-install PC (PIPC).

To append the Download Office tile, add the <AppendDownloadOfficeTile/> tag in your LayoutModification.xml file. For example:

<LayoutModificationTemplate
   xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification"
   xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout"
   xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout"
   Version="1">
<AppendDownloadOfficeTile/>
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

Create Start layouts for each region you support

You can use the Region parameter of the RequiredStartGroups tag in your LayoutModification.xml file to specify Start layouts per region. To learn more, see RequiredStartGroups tag in the Start Layout XML Reference.

Alternately, you can use multivariant capabilities in Windows provisioning to create different Start layouts per region. To learn more, see Use Windows Provisioning multivariant support in the Start Layout XML Reference.

First run tasks

First Run Tasks are background tasks that are active when the user first signs into Windows. First Run Tasks are not available in LayoutModification.xml. However, you can still use them by including an Unattend.xml file with StartTiles tags using the same AppID as in LayoutModification.xml.

If the AppendGroup tag is present in LayoutModification.xml, it will override Unattend.xml for all Start pinning. However, if an Unattend.xml StartTiles tag exists for the same AppID as in LayoutModification.xml, the FirstRunTask from Unattend.xml will be respected.

For example, include a LayoutModfication.xml file specifying an app like this:

<start:Tile AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge" Size="2x2" Row="0" Column="0"/>

Also include an Unattend.xml file specifying the same AppID like this:

<SquareOrDesktopTile5>
    <AppId>Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge</AppId>
    <FirstRunTask>BackgroundTasks_Notifications.Services.MessagingBackgroundTask</FirstRunTask>
</SquareOrDesktopTile5>

Dynamically delivered apps

Some apps on the Start layout are downloaded dynamically after the Out of Box Experience (OOBE) completes. If the device is on a metered network, or without network connectivity, app downloads are paused, and the user will see down arrows instead of the app name on the app tiles, as in the following image.

Apps downloading to Start layout

The downloads start or resume after the network connects.