Windows 11 Getting Multi-App Kiosk Mode

Organizations using Windows 11 with the latest "Configuration Update" now have access to two new features.

The two features are a new Multi-App Kiosk mode and an updated Windows Subsystem for Android in Windows 11, both of which were  announced this week.

Likely, these two new features will arrive for organizations in June or July. Last month, Microsoft announced a bunch of new Windows 11 version 22H2 features that would be arriving¬† for organizations around that time period. These two new features were not described back then, so they seem to be late-arriving additions. Windlows 11 users can get the features via a Configuration Update, which seems to be new term for features that arrive through the Windows Update patch mechanism.

Multi-App Kiosk Mode
The Multi-App Kiosk mode essentially is the same kiosk model that was introduced in Windows 10, but it differs by using the regular Windows 11 user interface. Microsoft dropped using a so-called "Tablet Mode UI" (that's still used with Windows 10).

Organizations might want to use the Windows kiosk mode configuration option if they want a device to be shared among workers using a "Lockdown profile," or if they want to create "public-facing kiosk devices" using a "Kiosk profile." The kiosk mode lets IT pros circumscribe which applications are presented to users. Microsoft's example showed a Windows 11 desktop presenting access to using just three applications, for instance.

The Multi-App Kiosk mode for Windows 11 specifically lets IT pros "create different configurations for different users. IT organizations can thereby ensure that users have access to "only what is needed to use the device as intended," the announcement explained.

A new capability in Multi-App Kiosk mode for Windows 11 is the ability to support multiple monitors, per the announcement. However, multiple monitor support must be really new, as Microsoft's setup document stated that "the use of multiple monitors isn't supported for Multi-App Kiosk mode."

IT pros with environments that use  Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) can configure Multi-App Kiosk mode using the MDM WMI Bridge Provider and the PowerShell scripting language. Microsoft's setup documentation promised that Microsoft Intune and Windows Configuration Designer support would be "coming soon," with no suggested arrival date specified.

The configurations are specified using XML files, which "can define multiple profiles."  The XML files include an "<AllAppsList> tag that specifies the allowed apps per user.

Updated Windows Subsystem for Android
In addition to the Multi-App Kiosk mode, a new Windows 11 feature expected to arrive for organizations as early as June is an updated Windows Subsystem for Android, as announced in this Monday blog post.

The updated Windows Subsystem for Android appears to be another straggler feature. It's notable for enabling file sharing between Windows and Android folders. Users will be able to do things like "uploading a photo to a social media app or editing a video in a creative app," the blog post explained. Users will be able to perform file drops and copy-and-paste functions. Microsoft also added updated support for Chromium WebView and Android 13 security updates, among other improvements.

What Is a 'Configuration Update'?
Microsoft's insistence that it's possible to use Multi-App Kiosk mode only with Windows 11 systems that have the "May 24, 2023 Windows Configuration Update" is a bit obscure because the (apparently new) Configuration Update term isn't explained anywhere.

The Configuration Update term likely refers to Microsoft's somewhat new approach with Windows 11 version 22H2 of dispersing new features when they are deemed ready, based on Microsoft's telemetry analysis. The features arrive through the Windows Update mechanism. Some reporters have said that Microsoft internally refers to these releases as "Moments" releases, but Microsoft doesn't appear to use that term in its public announcements. Possibly these Moments releases are getting called "Configuration Updates" -- it's not wholly clear.

With the relatively new Windows 11 version 22H2 feature release scheme, consumers get the new features at the preview stage the month before a more general release to organizations. These previews are blocked for organizations overseeing managed devices. However, if a feature is deemed ready, it will arrive with Microsoft's security and quality updates on "update Tuesdays" (the second Tuesday of each month).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.