Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Group Policy Preferences Overview

I happened across Darren Mar-Elia’s white paper on this topic the other day. It’s a great introduction to Group Policy Preferences (GPP). From the GPP white paper’s overview:
The Group Policy Preferences (GPP) feature was first made available at the release of Windows Server 2008. GPP is technology that Microsoft acquired when they purchased DesktopStandard and was referred to as PolicyMaker. Essentially, GPP is a set of client-side extensions and a management interface that adds to the policy capabilities that were previously available from Windows. The name “Preferences” underscores the fact that all of these new policy capabilities added by GPP are just that—preferences rather than policies that cannot be undone by an end-user. That being said, they do allow for a wide variety of additional configuration capability through Group Policy that previously had required complex logon scripts to automate.
What I like about GPP is the fact that it helps to eliminate logon scripts and includes what is described as "item level targeting" which enables you to set very granular filters on individual policy items within a group policy object. This gives you more granular control to target preferences at particular laptops, for example. Group Policy - and Group Policy Preferences - are two of the most important things that distinguish Active Directory from being just another directory service. If you're not familiar with GPP please read Darren's white paper. I'm hoping he updates it to include any changes with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that we all should know.

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