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Customizing Windows 8/8.1 through Group Policy and Local Policies

Customizing Windows 8/8.1 through Group Policy and Local Policies

March 06, 2014
Posted by: Christopher DeCarlo

With support ending very soon for Windows XP you are probably finding yourself in a position to start upgrading computers to Windows 8 or 8.1 if you haven’t done so already. The change from Windows XP to Windows 8/8.1 is large but very rewarding with all the new enhancements and security features provided to your company. With any change, though, there are sometimes pains. To ensure success of your deployment you need to lessen the impact this upgrade would cause on user downtime and frustration. Group Policies are a great means to ensure smooth transitions with hiding features that could cause confusion to users.

One feature of Windows 8/8.1 that might cause some frustration or confusion to your users is the “First sign-in animation”. This animation is supposed to help users learn a few new actions in Windows 8/8.1 before the profile loads up but most users just want to skip past it and start working. Unfortunately this animation does not provide users a method to skip it and can leave users waiting before they can start exploring the new environment.

If you’re unfamiliar with this “First sign-in animation” below are a few screenshots to show you. This animation can last several minutes depending on the speed of the hardware you have installed the OS on so its best to skip it to ensure smooth operation for your users.

So, to disable this animation in Group Policy please ensure you have installed the Windows 8/8.1 ADMX templates and then begin the steps below:

  1. Open up Group Policy Management Console and create a new GPO.
  2. Give this new GPO an appropriate name.
  3. Right-click your newly created GPO and select “Edit…”.
  4. On the Group Policy Management Editor screen expand your way down the tree to this location: Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System\Logon
  5. Now in the right pane find “Show first sign-in animation” and right click it and select “Edit”.
  6. Change this setting to “Disabled” and press OK to close out this dialog box with your saved setting.
  7. Now exit out of the Group Policy Management Editor.

Now when users first login it will skip this animation and log them in. Just in case you’re not using Group Policies to manage your clients you can follow the steps below to make the change locally to a Windows 8/8.1 client machine:

  1. Open Local Group Policy Editor from the Start Screen by typing “GPEDIT.MSC” and pressing enter when finished. You might get prompted for administrative credentials so enter them if requested.
  2. Now in the left pane of the Local Group Policy Editor expand your way down the tree to this location: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logon
  3. Now in the right-pane right click “Show first sign-in animation” and select “Edit”.
  4. Change this setting to “Disabled” and click OK to exit the dialog box with your saved setting.
  5. Now exit the Local Group Policy Editor.

Pretty easy, right? And now your users can log in and avoid the sign in animation to start exploring Windows 8/8.1. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about this feature or other features you’d like to hear about in Windows 8/8.1. Thanks for reading.


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