Tuesday 6 October 2020

Managing Digital Displays with InTune.

A common requirement for schools is the management of digital displays. While there are a dozens of excellent SaaS applications that will do the job perfectly well it’s also possible to put together a workable solution using the standard features provided by Intune and a third party resources such as Google Slides without any additional cost.

One of the more useful features of Intune are the preconfigured device templates and one of these is Single Application Kiosk which is exactly what you need for digital displays. It’s not worth going through the details of how this is set up as it’s covered in a number of other posts including this excellent video walkthrough. Rather this post lists some of the tweaks that take this general idea and makes it work in practice.

One tip mentioned in the video and worth repeating is that you really need to set a maintenance window when you config the kiosk policy. You really don’t want your digital player to be rebooting in the middle of the days to take a feature update.

You don’t need any special windows app to run a web session in kiosk mode - Explorer/Edge will do nicely. The standard kiosk policy takes care of all the auto-login and full screen requirements without any extra effort on your part. What you do need to do is create a separate policy to control the target URL for the display.

This is done through creating a new Device restrictions policy shown below replacing your value for the URL.

If you are running a number of displays all presenting different slide shows, each will need it’s own policy assigned through security groups containing the appropriate display device. Changing the display then becomes as simple as moving the device between groups.

You need to be a little careful working with Kiosk mode as some of the features such as autologon will conflict with standard security settings set in other policies especially if these are held by the All Devices group. The best approach is to create an All Digital Displays security group and then explicitly exclude it from all policies set on All Devices unless it carries a policy you require.

Setting your policy apply should force an autologon and present a full screen display and so you might well believe it’s a job well done - not quite. If you return in ten minutes you’re likely to find sleep mode has kicked in and your screen is now a blank page.

Intune has a number of configuration policies that control aspects of sleep mode but these are not always effective in kiosk mode, The solution is to create a new custom profile type with three OMA-URI entries using the information below.

Name: DisplayOffTimeoutPluggedIn

OMA-URI: ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Power/DisplayOffTimeoutPluggedIn

Data type: String

Value: <enabled/><data id="EnterVideoACPowerDownTimeOut" value="0"/>

Name: StandbyTimeoutPluggedIn

OMA-URI: ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Power/StandbyTimeoutPluggedIn

Data type: String

Value: <enabled/><data id="EnterACStandbyTimeOut" value="0"/>

Name: HibernateTimeoutPluggedIn

OMA-URI: ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Power/HibernateTimeoutPluggedIn

Data type: String

Value: <enabled/><data id="EnterACHibernateTimeOut" value="0"/>

Once these are set and applied to your security group the display will stay fixed.

Its also worth checking if your hosting device has a BIOS setting that allows reboot on power loss. This is a standard feature on the Intel NUC and allows the screen to recover to the display from a power on without any manual intervention. You don't really want to be searching for the on/off switch when the screen is 2m from the floor.

In this example I used a Google Slide that’s published to the web as the target. You can use any URL or third party resource. If you know how to replicate the functions of published Google Slides with Microsoft PowerPoint please drop me a line.

If you are using a third party platform it's likely that the display will be driven through a local application that controls the update cycle. Using a simple URL like the one provided by Google Slides allows you to control the advance rate but not it's refresh. Once the slide deck is loaded it's cached locally which has some advantages if the internet connection is dropped but it also means that new information is only going to be visible once the URL is reloaded.

The easiest way guarantee a URL reload is schedule a reboot of the device.  This can be achieved using another custom profile type.

Name: ReoccuringRebootSchedule

OMA-URI: ./Vendor/MSFT/Reboot/Schedule/DailyRecurrent

Data type: String

Value: 2019-10-01T02:00:00Z

The date and time value is in ISO8601format and both are required. This will reboot the device each day at 02:00 am to ensure the presentation is current for each day.  

Other reset options can be found in this post.

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