Windows Vista in “Dude, Where’s my Start Menu?”

When dropping Windows Vista into an existing network, you may notice some unusual issues that weren’t apparent in Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

The main cause of a headache for me was the new interpretation of the Group Policy settings that Vista utilises.

Because most of the networks that I manage rely on roaming user profiles, it’s not uncommon for me to use folder redirection to redirect the Start Menu and Desktop. These are set so that the user cannot change the contents of these folders, and they specifically show programs that only I allow.

So, all is good. Until Vista came along and the contents of the Start Menu suddenly disappeared. Clicking on the ‘All Programs’ links showed nothing at all. Eeep!

After about 2 hours of searching as to why this might happen, I eventually discovered it was a group policy setting that works differently (and by its interpretation, correctly) to Windows XP.

Group Policy EditorThe setting in question is User Configuration > Adimistrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar > Remove User’s Folders from the Start Menu

In Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the setting prevents the user’s profile folders from appearing. This is useful if you are using folder redirection and don’t want the default Start Menu icons to appear. However, Vista includes the redirected folders as excluded, and as such – nothing appears.

The difficulty hunting this down of course is that the group policy results show a successful redirect, which of course is exactly what it’s doing