In my Windows 10 Embedded Enterprise box, I have the main user with admin privileges (password protected) and the "Operator" user with regular user privileges and no password.
This step is optional, needed only if you want to auto login:
Start-Run (or Win-R) and launch
netplwiz, uncheck the
Users must enter a username and password... box and hit
Apply: a new window pops up asking for a default username and password. In my case, I use Operator and blank password. Press
OK and in the other window also press
OK to accept the changes and close the window.
The following works even if a user has to login with password, so the above is really optional, only if an old-school Kiosk mode is needed (for a non UWP application).
Microsoft Docs has an answer to your question, in short:
- Under the admin user, open registry editor:
- Go to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\system.ini\boot\ and change the value of
Shell string from the default
SYS:Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon to
- (Optional) Go to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon and change
Shell string from default
explorer.exe to something else. This is generally a backup in case the user-based shell is not found. This setting applies to all users, so I prefer to leave it on
- Optionally login as the default user if you created one as per the above. Go to
HKEY_Current_User\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon Create/change the value of
Shell string to point to an executable or batch file that you'd like to run as a custom shell for a given user.
In this setup, when the computer starts, the Operator user logs in automagically and my custom application is launched. When needed, I connect a network cable to the computer and connect to is using VNC (optionally, I could just plug in a keyboard), hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and either lock or sign out the Operator user. Then I login as the admin user and the "normal" Windows Explorer is launched. I do whatever changes are necessary and either reboot the machine or logout and login as Operator again.
Keep in mind that messing with the wrong registry setting can cause the system to fail to boot. While I made an attempt at accurately representing the steps, refer to the actual documentation, read it completely at least once before attempting any changes so you have an overall picture of what needs to be done... Hope this helps.