Have you ever been at a high-end hotel or conference center and saw an information kiosk? It’s usually setup to let you run a single application like a web browser or interactive map.
Could your small business use something like that?
Do you have an 10-year old nephew that pesters you until you let him play with your Surface to “just surf the web” but when you get it back he’s changed every setting and installed a dozen applications you don’t want? (I know this one happens to me).
Well, in either case, the same feature that came on your Surface tablet called Assigned Access can fix your problem.
Assigned Access will let you setup a user account that is only allowed to run a single application. That way, you can use it to create your kiosk or let your capricious nephew surf the web all he wants.
There is, of course, a catch. Unfortunately, Assigned Access will only let you choose Modern (Metro) apps to assign. So, on a Surface Pro 3, for example, you can assign IE to be the but you can’t assign Chrome because it’s not a Modern app.
Turn a Surface into a Windows Kiosk: Step-By-Step Setup
- Before you start, make sure you have a keyboard cover (touch or type, doesn’t matter) handy. Do not skip this step.
- Create a Local Account using these instructions. Make sure you leave the password field blank so the kiosk account will automatically log in if the Surface is restarted
- Next, log in with that account and configure your web browser or other application the way you want
- Log out and log in with an account that has administrator rights
- Open the Charm bar (swipe in from the right side)
- Tap The Settings charm (the gear)
- Tap Change PC Settings
- When the Settings screen appears, select Accounts
- Select Other accounts then Tap Setup an account for assigned access
- Tap Chose an account and select the account you want to give Assigned Access. In this example, I made a “Kiosk” account
- Next, tap Choose an application. In this case, I’m choosing Internet Explorer
- Ensure the choices are correct then exit the Assigned Access screen by tapping the arrow in the upper left corner, swiping down, or by pressing the Windows button on your Surface.
- Restart your Surface and log in with the account you created.
After the first time where you will need to select the account, It should automatically log in and start the allowed application every time the Surface is restarted. (if you left the password for that account blank).
In addition, you will notice the Charms bar and task switching are inaccessible and that the application you assigned to the account can’t be closed.
Pretty cool, huh?
OK, maybe I’m a geek but if you ever find yourself wishing you could lock down your Surface to a single application, you’ll find this pretty handy.
Turn a Surface into a Windows Kiosk: Getting back in
At this point, you’re probably wondering: “But Tim, if I can’t log off and every time I restart the machine it automatically goes into this mode, how am I supposed to get it back to normal use for me?” (or something like that but less long-winded)
Well, remember when I said you needed a keyboard cover? That’s because the way to exit Assigned Access mode it to attach the keyboard and tap the Windows key more than 5 times in a row.
When you do that, it logs off the assigned access account and takes you back to the user log in screen where you can choose your normal account.
It will also stop the kiosk account from auto-signing in every time the Surface is restarted (until you select it again).
So, I hope you found this useful or, at least, informative.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.