Q: How do I set the Start Screen layout for Windows 8.1 using Group Policy?
A: Windows 8.1 allows greater control of the Start Screen. Not only can the Start Screen be synchronized between machines with Windows 8.1, but the layout can be exported to a file, then deployed by using Group Policy.
Configure a Start Screen configuration that you want to use for your organization, and then export it out as XML by using the command below:
Export-StartLayout -As XML -Path StartScreenLayout.xml
In Group Policy, use this file to deploy the Start Screen configuration via the location User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Start Menu and Taskbar and the policy setting "Start Screen Layout." Enable the policy and specify the XML file via a local or UNC location, as the screen shot below shows.
When this policy is applied, the users will be able to use the same Start Screen configuration that was exported.