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Automating Web URLs as Start Menu Links

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In my previous post on Creating Web URLs as Start Menu Links, I outlined details how to manually create links to URLs (as seen in the images below).  While this does work, most folks in the systems management community would prefer to automate this link creations.  The following PowerShell script can be used to create a custom start menu link for all users.

Note that a problem that you may encounter is the link not being displayed in the grouping.  This could be caused by having two .lnk files with the same target path pointing to the same URL.

# Create a Shortcut with Windows PowerShell
$oWScriptShell = New-Object -ComObject WScript.Shell
$sTargetFile = "C:\Windows\explorer.exe"
$sShortcutFile = $oWScriptShell.SpecialFolders("AllUsersPrograms") + "\Links\t3chn1ck.lnk"
# Note: to open URL in a specific browser like Edge, add in front of the URL Microsoft-edge:
$sURL = ""

#Delete existing shortcut if exists
If (Test-Path $sShortcutFile){
Remove-Item $sShortcutFile

$oShortcut = $oWScriptShell.CreateShortcut($sShortcutFile)
$oShortcut.IconLocation = "explorer.exe,20"
$oShortcut.TargetPath = $sTargetFile
$oShortcut.Arguments = $sURL

urldemo5 urldemo4

Creating Web URLs as Start Menu Links

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If you’re looking for a quick and ‘easy’ method to create shortcut links to website URLs that are part of a user’s start menu…and that can be found by Windows search…follow this simple process.

  1. Create a generic program shortcut to %windir%\explorer.exe. An easy way to do this is just browse to the executable file, right-click, and select Sent To > Desktop.urldemo1
  2. Modify the properties of the .lnk file to have:
    • The URL after the name explorer.exe; note that prefacing the URL with http:// or https:// maybe necessary.
    • Change the icon to be more website looking (optional)
    • Change the name of the shortcut to something ‘friendly’ (on the General tab)urldemo2
  3. Copy the shortcut to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\CustomLinkDirectoryName\urldemo3

Now the URL shortcut will be listed in the start menu for all your users!  An added bonus is that this link will open in whatever is the user’s default browser as well.  These links can then be distributed and managed by a systems management tool such as ConfigMgr.

To automate this process using PowerShell, see my post Automating Web URLs as Start Menu Links.

urldemo4   urldemo5



Resources on Windows 10 for IT professionals

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If you’re an IT professional that is seeking to learn more about Windows 10, how to deploy and manage Windows 10 in your environment, or just simply trying to “keep up” with all the advances of the product, then the following resources will be helpful to you.  This page may be updated periodically as I come across new resources available to help.
[Updated 10/5/16]

Windows 10 Full Device Wipe via PowerShell

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One of the new capabilities of Windows 10 is the ability to manage it like a mobile device using Configuration Service Providers.  One of those functions is the ability to perform a full wipe (restore to factory default) of the device using the RemoteWipe CSP.  While this capability can be accomplished using a MDM provider such as Microsoft Intune, you may at some point have the need to demonstrate it without a device being managed.

Using the script below will cause the Windows 10 system to immediately perform a reset of Windows to factory default.  No data and no applications are saved.  Use extreme caution when testing this script.  Setting it up for deployment with a tool (such as ConfigMgr) could come with extreme consequences if incidentally deployed.

Now that you’ve been fully warned, to demonstrate how to use the RemoteWipe and invoke the doWipeMethod, please reference the example script at  Also, it could be good to add a user input for a “password” to continue and it can easily be added to front of the script.  For example:

$pass = Read-Host 'Enter the password to perform a full wipe of Windows 10 to factory defaults.'

if ($pass -eq '1-2-3-4-5') {
    write-host -ForegroundColor Green 'Password accepted ... That''s amazing. I''ve got the same combination on my luggage!!' }
else {
    write-host -ForegroundColor Red 'Wrong password, terminating script'


Testing Windows 10 Assigned Access

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Based upon the information in article Set up a kiosk on Windows 10, it is possible to quickly setup a Windows 10 UWP app to run with Assigned Access.  From that article, I’ve outlined (below) the quick-start steps for testing purposes.

  1. Login to Windows with an account that has local admin rights.
  2. Create a local user account (such as “kiosk”) with a password and do not grant the account local admin privileges.
  3. Sign out of Windows.
  4. Login to Windows with the kiosk user account so that it builds the profile.
  5. If the tablet has physical keyboard capabilities, then change that user to use Tablet Mode and log out.  Otherwise, skip this step.
  6. Login to Windows with the local admin account.
  7. Edit the registry to enable auto login of the kiosk account.
  8. Use the PowerShell script in this article to get the AUMID for the UWP app.
    • If you’re just looking for a quick example, use the MSN News app with ID – Microsoft.BingNews_8wekyb3d8bbwe!AppexNews
  9. Based upon the information in the previous step, run a PowerShell command in this article to set the kiosk user to have assigned access to your UWP app.
  10. Verify that the user was properly assigned to launch the application by:
    • Start > Settings > User accounts > Family and other users
    • Under the “Other Users” section, select “Set up assigned access”
    • Ensure the user shows the application (see attached image as an example)

Also, to sideload a UWP application, see this information:

More information on best practices for developing UWP apps for Assigned Access:

Windows 10 End-User Training Videos

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I’m frequently asked if there is any public materials to help an organization do their own internal “training” for their end-users on how to use some new features and capabilities of Windows 10.  Below is a collection of helpful resources that are available as videos which can be delivered via different scenarios.

Additionally, the Windows 10 Readiness Kit [materials for print] helps you to inform, educate, and communicate with your employees about Windows 10.

Getting Started with Azure AD Join in Win10

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One of the many new capabilities of Windows 10 is the ability to join a device to Azure AD Premium (AADP).  There are many good posts, such as this one from Microsoft, that show how to join an existing Win10 system, but nothing that shows the out-of-box experience or some of the newer AADP for “AADJ”, which is what this post aims to highlight as a quick start guide.

First, configure your AADP tenant to allow connections.

Next, this is a possible out-of-box setup experience for a new Win10 device.



Note that the account below will be automatically added to the local admins group.






Once we’re within Windows, the system properties shows that we are joined to the AAD domain.


Additionally, the user in AADP shows that the system is AAD Joined.