Turning off the Cortana search box, People button and Task View via Group Policy

Are you a company or a school wanting to block the Cortana bar (and the “Popular Now” junk that appears), the people icon or the Task View (multiple desktops) options along the task bar / start menu section?

A lot of articles point you to the following Group Policy section:
Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Search
However, in my case, I found that this didn’t seem to make any difference at all.

If you do want to disable it.. you can’t do it by a standard Group Policy setting. I’ve searched the Group Policy files for Windows 10 and the 1511 build and none of the required keys exist in the policy files.
You have to deploy some settings to the registry on logon via Group Policy.

The settings you want are:

Hive HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Key path SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search
Value name SearchboxTaskbarMode
Value type REG_DWORD
Value data 0x0 (0)

and

Hive HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Key path SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
Value name ShowTaskViewButton
Value type REG_DWORD
Value data 0x0 (0)

and
n.b. The people button can now be removed using native Group Policy..
User Configuration –> Policies –> Administrative Templates –> Start Menu and Taskbar –> “Remove the People Bar from the taskbar”
I will include the original registry key below as this may be useful for people running older Windows 10 builds or those who have not or cannot import the Windows 10 ADMX files into their environment:

Hive HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Key path Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\People
Value name PeopleBand
Value type REG_DWORD
Value data 0x0 (0)

Applying these two registry keys to the users will automatically hide the Cortana search box, people social button and the Task View buttons.

The user can probably still get to the “Popular Now” box by clicking start and then clicking on the second option down on the very left set of icons.

I’ve avoided this problem by also deploying ClassicShell Start Menu to all computers.

On another note.. I also apply this registry key (but I also think the option is exposed in a real GPO anyway, so use if you can’t find the correct GPO). This key prevents automatic hiding of system tray icons.

Hive HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Key path Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
Value name EnableAutoTray
Value type REG_DWORD
Value data 0x0 (0)
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