Server 2012/Windows 8 – Complete File Explorer Icon/Shortcut/Folder Removal List

I thought I would share with you the master icon removal list for File Explorer that I’ve compiled from various sites. All of the articles I’ve come across tend to delete the icons for all user’s, but I’ve found that it is possible to delete some of them on a per user basis by creating the key structure in the HKCU section of the registry instead. You’ll just have to fiddle around with them if you want to try it.


My biggest bitch by far about Server 2012 is that it doesn’t appear to even be a finished product in regards to Group Policy lockdown procedures. On almost every account, you have to hack the damn registry to get rid of unwanted items from File Explorer not to mention the god damned Ribbon UI which I’m going to do a whole nother post to rant and rave about and explain how to customize/remove icons from it. I’m not going to go into great detail here on how to add them through Group Policy Preferences or anything so if you need to know how to do that, check out some of my other articles where I explain how to do it.
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Server 2012 – Set Proxy Server and Prevent Changes via Group Policy

Thanks to Microsoft, with the removal of the Internet Explorer Maintenance section in Group Policy since IE9, once again they’ve decided to make things more complicated and the end users have lost yet another important administrative tool required for many environments.

That being said, the only way to set and enforce proxy settings in Internet Explorer now requires hacking the registry, which I’m seeing as a disturbingly all too common trend when setting up an RDS server. Here are the keys to the kingdom:

User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry
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Server 2012/Windows 8 – CLSID Key (GUID) Shortcuts List

I found this information to be invaluable when having to hack my way through the registry to lock down a 2012 RDS Server so I wanted to make a post here for future reference. Every bit of the credit goes to this site as I’m simply just copying the info.

You could use either command below to create a shortcut with the CLSID key (GUID) for what it opens. If the shortcut doesn’t work with one command, then use the other one.

You would right click or press and hold on the desktop, click/tap on New and Shortcut, use a command below for the “location”, then type in a name for the shortcut. If you like, you can Pin to Taskbar on desktop, Pin to Start screen, add to Quick Launch, assign a keyboard shortcut to it, or move this shortcut to where you like for easy use. Continue reading “Server 2012/Windows 8 – CLSID Key (GUID) Shortcuts List”

Server 2012 – Creating Always Maximized Internet Explorer Desktop Shortcuts to Websites via Group Policy

One annoying thing that happens a lot in Windows is the odd window size in Internet Explorer when clicking on any URL type shortcut icon. Unfortunately, with the URL type shortcuts, there’s not really a way to guarantee how the window size will be positioned every time as most of the time it goes by your previous IE window’s state but we all know there are scenarios where that isn’t always the case.
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Server 2012 – Set Internet Explorer Home/Start Page via Group Policy

If you want to set the user’s home page initially but then allow them to change it to whatever they want, on the Common tab in Group Policy Preferences, just make sure to check the box “Apply once and do not reapply” otherwise, any changes the user makes to their home page will be lost the next time they log in.
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Server 2012 – Add a 32 Bit Internet Explorer Shortcut Icon on the Desktop via Group Policy

On an 2012 RDS Server, when running a software restriction policy, your 64 bit browser won’t work unless you specifically create a rule to allow it. In addition to that, on an RDS Server, there’s not really any advantage to using the 64 bit version of IE because almost all plugins were only built with 32 bit support.

That being said, at first I had some trouble creating a desktop icon for the 32 bit version of IE using Group Policy Prefences. Strangely enough, if I set the path in my shortcut to %PROGRAMFILES(x86)% it still brought up the 64 bit version of IE somehow, WTF?! Basically to figure this out, I just copied the shortcut properties of the IE icon on the Classic Shell Start Menu.
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Foxit Reader 7.0 – Set as the Default PDF Viewer via Group Policy

When locking down your RDS Server, here are the registry keys needed to set Foxit Reader as the default PDF viewer per user via Group Policy Preferences to disable the annoying first run pop-up (technically, you can use just the last registry entry only and it will work but adding all of the keys is probably the safer approach):
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Polycom RealPresence Desktop – Windows QoS Registry Settings

Last week, I had to call Polycom support for two issues. One of which I mentioned in another post (Automatic Gain Control issue) and the other was because I wanted to find out why their user manual showed some QoS settings that my version did not have access to.

After waiting on hold for ten minutes, the first tech support person I reached was a little cocky, arrogant, smart ass of a prick who was less than helpful with either of my support requests. At one point, he literally told me “we can’t control Windows” (which brings up the question, “Well why in the fuck did Polycom even make software in the first place then?”) in regards to my AGC issue even after I told him that I had disabled all of the Windows settings that take control of the audio interface. He also said that you can set up QoS in Windows “somewhere in the network settings” (which turned out to be completely erroneous) without giving an ounce of help or direction.

Towards the end of our call, he was just trying to get me off the phone basically with an answer of “you’re fucked” to all my questions. At that point, I got pissed off and demanded to speak to somebody else. Finally, I got put on the phone with one of their product engineers and they actually addressed my issues. Long story short, the engineer ended up having to do a remote support session and did indeed acknowledge my AGC issue and gave me an explanation of why I couldn’t see the QoS settings mentioned in the manual. It turns out, those settings only show up if you use their provisioning server and they don’t even set the QoS settings in Windows like I needed.
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Polycom RealPresence Desktop – Do Not Minimize to Taskbar Tray

While poking through the registry trying to find a way disable Automatic Gain Control (AGC) for Polycom RealPresence Desktop (version video conferencing software, I stumbled upon a different registry key that addresses another annoying problem and that is to keep RPD from minimizing itself to the taskbar. Low and behold, it doesn’t appear that there is a setting associated with this registry key inside the program to disable this functionality either.

As a side note, I did have to open a support request with Polycom over the AGC issue as it automatically takes over the audio recording interface even after disabling all of Windows control over the settings and it negatively impacts conference quality. Because the software automatically dials down the input level of the recording interface, the user then has to yell just to be heard, which only further possibly causes the input level to go down even more, without ever adjusting the audio level back up. Currently, there is no way to turn this off, so it will probably end up as a feature request for the next software release.
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