Software Center is getting close to awesome!

It’s almost been too long ago since I’ve done my latest post about Software Center. Luckily there are enough reasons introduced with Configuration Manager, version 1806,  to devote another blog post to Software Center, as Software Center is getting close to awesome. Yes, I deliberately say close to awesome, as we always need to leave options open for improvement. In this post I’ll focus on three great new additions to Software Center: 1) infrastructure improvements, 2) a custom tab and 3) maintenance windows.

No more application catalog website point and web service point required

Let’s start with the first and, in my opinion, best improvement related to Software Center. Starting with Configuration Manager, version 1806, available user-targeted apps can be made available in Software Center without using the application catalog website point and the application web service point. Both of these roles are no longer required. Software Center now relies on management points to get the information about available user-targeted apps. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality.

I’ve removed both of the mentioned roles. To completely clean up the configuration, especially from a Software Center perspective, also the Open the Application Catalog web site link must be removed (or actually be hidden) from Software Center. Otherwise it will still show a gray unneeded text. To achieve this, simply follow the next four steps.

1 Open the Configuration Manager administration console and navigate to Administration > Overview > Client Settings;
2 Now either open/create a new Custom Client Device Settings and select the Software Center section, or open open the Default Client Settings and select the Software Center section;
3 In the Software Center section, select Yes with Select these new settings to specify company information and click Customize with Software Center settings to open the Software Center Customization dialog box;
4

SC_Customization-GeneralOn the Software Center Customization dialog box, select the General tab and provide at least the following information;

  • Select Hide Application Catalog link in Software Center;

Note: In my example I’ve only selected to hide the Application Catalog link. Below is an example of the link in Software Center that will be removed. I deliberately left the link, to show that it’s not a link anymore and to show what will be removed;

SC_InstallationStatus

Custom configurable tab available for linking to a webpage

The second, also pretty good, improvement, is the ability to add a custom tab to Software Center. The administrator can define a name for the custom tab and the administrator can specify a URL that should be opened in the custom tab. It can be an internal webpage and an external webpage. The latter option would of course require an Internet connectivity. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality. To achieve this, simply follow the next four steps.

1 Open the Configuration Manager administration console and navigate to Administration > Overview > Client Settings;
2 Now either open/create a new Custom Client Device Settings and select the Software Center section, or open open the Default Client Settings and select the Software Center section;
3 In the Software Center section, select Yes with Select these new settings to specify company information and click Customize with Software Center settings to open the Software Center Customization dialog box;
4

SC_Customization-TabsOn the Software Center Customization dialog box, select the Tabs tab and provide at least the following information;

  • Select Specify a custom tab for Software Center;
  • Tab name: Provide a custom name;
  • Content URL: Provide a valid URL;

Note: In my example the custom tab is named Contact and it refers to the contact page of my blog. An example of the user experience is shown below.

SC_CustomTab

Next scheduled maintenance window is shown

The third improvement is a little bit smaller, but can provide really useful information to the end-user. The third improvement is the availability of the next available maintenance window within Software Center. Previously this required a little bit of custom scripting, but now the information is available within the Upcoming section of the Installation status tab in Software Center. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality.

SC_InstallationStatus

More information

More information about what’s new related to Software Center in the latest current branch version, please refer to this article about What’s new in version 1806 of Configuration Manager current branch – Software Center.

Single full-screen Kiosk Browser app in kiosk mode

This week is all about configuring a single full-screen app in kiosk mode and more specifically, configuring the Kiosk Browser app as a single full-screen app in kiosk mode. A couple of years ago, I also did a post about setting up kiosk mode on Windows 10. This time it’s not about using OMA-URI’s, this time is all about using the available options within the portal. Spoiler alert, it became a whole lot easier! Deployment scenarios that this adds on to are, for example, AutoPilot self-deploying mode and enrollment via a device enrollment manager. In this post I’ll go through a few prerequisites for the configuration, followed by the actual configuration of the Kiosk Browser app in kiosk mode. I’ll end this post by looking at the end-user experience.

Prerequisites

Before being able to configure kiosk mode with the Kiosk Browser app, the following prerequisites must be in place and available.

  • Deploy the de Kiosk Browser app. The best method to deploy the app is by using the Microsoft Store for Business integration with Microsoft Intune. That combination will enable the ability to assign the app as a required app to devices and users;
  • Get the Application User Model ID (AUMID) of the Kiosk Browser app. The easiest method is using the provided PowerShell script, which will provide the following AUMID for the Kiosk Browser app: Microsoft.KioskBrowser_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App;

Configuration

Now that the prerequisites are known, it’s time to look at the actual configuration. Within this configuration I will show the steps to create a kiosk profile that will create a full-screen Kiosk Browser app with an autologon user. The following four steps will walk through the required configuration. After that simply assign the created profile to a user (for example the device enrollment manager) or device group (for example the AutoPilot self-deploying devices).

1 Open the Azure portal and navigate to Intune > Device configuration > Profiles;
2 On the Devices configuration – Profiles blade, click Create profile to open the Create profile blade;
3

KioskProfileOn the Create profile blade, provide the following information and click Create;

  • Name: Provide a valid name;
  • Description: (Optional) Provide a description;
  • Platform: Select Windows 10 and later;
  • Profile type: Select Kiosk (Preview);
  • Settings: See step 4a and 4b.
4a

KioskMode-AddRowOn the Kiosk (Preview) blade, select Kiosk to open the Kiosk blade. On the Kiosk blade, click Add to open the Add row blade. On the Add row blade, provide the following information and click OK (and click OK in the Kiosk (Preview) blade);

  • Kiosk configuration name: Provide a valid name;
  • Kiosk Mode: Select Single full-screen app kiosk;
  • Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app identifier: Select Enter UWP app AUMID;
  • Application user model ID (AUMID) of app: Microsoft.KioskBrowser_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App;
  • User account type: Select Autologon.
4a

KioskBrowser-ConfigOn the Kiosk (Preview) blade, select Kiosk web browser to open the Kiosk web browser blade. On the Kiosk web browser blade, provide the following information and click OK;

  • Default home page URL: https://petervanderwoude.nl;
  • Home button: Select Not configured;
  • Navigation buttons: Select Not configured;
  • End session button: Select Not configured;
  • Refresh browser when user exceeds idle time limit: (Optional) Provide a time limit;
  • Blocked websites: (Optional) Add blocked websites;
  • Website exceptions: (Optional) Add excluded websites.

Note: As I’m not providing any buttons, there is no real use for blocking any websites.

Note: Even though the configuration was a success, the device configuration would always show the status Failed on the setting Full screen kiosk app status.

End-user experience

Now let’s end this post by looking at the end-user experience. The first thing I would like to show, is the default user that is created when using autologon as the user account type. That user is a local user named Kiosk and that local user not configured with a password. Once that user is automatically logged on and somebody would press Ctrl+Alt+Del, the person would see the screen as shown below.

MSI-KioskUser

The second thing that I would like to show is the end result of the complete configuration. When the configuration is applied to the device, the Kiosk user will autologon to the device and the Kiosk Browser app will start with the configured home page and without the ability to navigate or any other interaction, as shown below.

MSI-KioskBrowserLD

The third and last thing that I would like to show is the end result when the configuration is changed. Changed in a way that the navigation buttons are shown, the home button is shown and the end session button is shown. That result is shown below. With that configuration is might be useful to create a list with blocked websites.

MSI-KioskBrowser

More information

For more information related to configuring kiosk mode on Windows 10 and the KioskBrowser area in the Policy CSP, please refer to the following articles: