Custom Start Menu Shortcuts for Software Center

How to build custom shortcuts for Software Center to direct your users to specific locations within the app.

Installation of the SCCM Client adds a shortcut to the Start Menu for the Software Center app. But I'm concerned that the name "Software Center" doesn't mean anything to my end users, so I want to be more explicit and helpful.

The Objective

For the SCCM admin, the Software Center app serves multiple functions:

  • Installing Applications
  • Installing PC Updates
  • Installing OS Upgrades
  • Checking Device Compliance

To make these different functions more obvious to my end users, I want to create separate shorcuts for each of those functions and have them pinned in the default Start Menu layout. Something like this...

Note: SCCM Current Branch version 1706 or newer is required for this. So, if you're still using SCCM 2012 or an older build of CB, this maze isn't meant for you.

Creating the Shortcuts

To create these shortcuts, we're going to make use of the custom 'softwarecenter' URI protocol that gets installed by the SCCM client.

Any URL that begins with softwarecenter: will be directed to the Software Center app for opening. In fact, simply running softwarecenter: from a Run prompt will open the Software Center app to its default home page. Go ahead and try it out... I'll wait.

That's neat. But where it really becomes helpful is when you begin to pass arguments in the URL to tell Software Center where to go. So, let's cut to the chase and give you the good stuff. Here are the four links I need in order to generate the shortcuts shown above:

  • Install Software: softwarecenter:Page=AvailableSoftware
  • PC Updates: softwarecenter:Page=Updates
  • Upgrade Windows: softwarecenter:Page=OSD
  • Check Device Compliance: softwarecenter:Page=Compliance

For a more complete rundown of available parameters, check out this post over on DeploymentResearch.

To create the shortcut, launch the Create Shortcut wizard from Windows Explorer.

Drop in your desired URL.

Give it a name, and click Finish.

Now you've got a working shortcut, but it's using the generic icon. To have it use the Software Center icon, open the properties of the shortcut and choose Change Icon.

Browse to the location of the installed Software Center executable (SCClient.exe). For a default installation, the typical path is C:\Windows\CCM\ClientUX\SCClient.exe.

Boom, one shortcut done. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Using the Shortcuts

To add these shortcuts to the Start Menu for all users, you can simply copy them to %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (or any subfolder therein).

If you want to have these pinned as tiles to the Start Menu by default for all users, that's a little more involved, but Microsoft has fully documented the process over on TechNet.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any comments or questions, or if you have an idea about how to further improve this approach, you can connect with me via the comments below or via Twitter.