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I found lot of settings in Group Policy Editor or GPEDIT.MSC related to Windows 8 Professional and Windows 8 RT which can be used to enable or disable certain features on Windows 8. They all are located in Administrative Templates of Computer and User Configuration and applies to local computer. Type Group Policy Editor on Start screen or use WIN + R and type gpedit.msc and hit enter.
Controlling Windows Store Access :
Location : Windows Components > Stores
- Turn of Automatic Download of updates
- Allow stores to install apps on Windows to go Workspaces
- Turn of Store application.
Using this you can not only control the automatic updates but also block complete access to Windows Store Apps. This can be useful in corporate environment where only in house apps should be used.
Though I haven’t seen any option to set a Windows 8 App to auto update but this feature can be used somehow, either by the app itself or through some other program.
In case you want to disable New App installed Notification from Windows 8 Store, enable the settings at this location :
Location : Windows Components > File Explorer
- Do not Show new application installed notification
Windows 8 App Settings
Proxy control for Windows 8 Apps
It is possible to control the apps to connect over a proxy network or only over permitted network, both Intranet and Internet. Useful if you want to make the apps work on proxy if the main network has blocked it. More useful for Admins to make sure the network work only in certain IP range.
Location : Network > Network Isolation
- Specify Internet / Intranet Proxy Server for Apps
- Private Network ranges for Apps
Safeguarding Printer Driver crashing the Apps :
Location : Printers
- Isolate Printer Driver from Apps
This makes sure that Printer Driver instead of loading the drivers into the Apps, it is isolated and does not crash the apps. However the apps has to honor or support this isolation method. Microsoft Office 2007, 2010 etc already support this.
Enable / Install Apps from outside Store :
If you have developed apps which is signed by a valid certificate and can be recognized by the computer, you can install apps with no issues by enabling this settings. Typical examples are Line of Business Apps developed in your company.
Location : Windows Components > App Package Deployment
- Allow All trusted Apps to Install
Block Packaged Apps launching Desktop Apps :
The logic here is that a Store app or a signed app can launch a file which in turn might launch the desktop app because of default association of the file with the desktop app. Since Desktop Apps run with higher privilege, it can result in security concerns.
Location : Windows Components > App Runtime
- Block Launching Desktop Apps with a File
- Block Launching Desktop Apps with an associated protocol
However enabling the policy settings does not block packaged apps from launching http, https, and mailto protocols that would be passed to a desktop app. The handlers for these protocols are accustomed to handling data from untrusted sources and are therefore hardened against protocol based vulnerabilities. The risk of allowing these protocols to be passed to a desktop app is minimal.
Stop sharing personal details with Apps
Windows 8 allows Apps to read some basic details from your user profile to be used in the app. As an example, your name can be used to automatically fill in name flied of the app. You may choose to disable sharing such details.
Location : System > User Profiles >
- Disable Sharing Personal Details to app for all users.
Stop users uninstall apps from Start Screen :
Uninstall a metro app is as easy as doing a right click. If you do not user to uninstall Apps from start screen, enable this setting.
Location : User configuration > Administrative Templates > Start menu and Taskbar >
- Prevent Users from Uninstalling Apps from Start Menu.
Disable Application Compatibility :
Windows 8 or any other Windows has compatibility feature detection inbuilt which allows you to install programs using different settings. Starting with Windows 8, it is now possible to disable this compatibility feature completely if you wish to remove old app support completely on your PC.
Location : System > Troubleshooting & Diagnostics > Application Compatibility Diagnostics
- Detect Compatibility Issues for applications and drivers
Disable Start Screen Background Image :
If you don’t like the background image on Windows 8 Start Screen and would love to have only solid colored background, follow these steps
Location : Windows Components > Windows Desktop Manager
- Enable Solid Colours only