Friday, October 2, 2009

Group Policy Preferences in Windows 2008

Today I want to go over the new Group Policy Preferences that come with 2008 server.
I recently added a 2008 server in my shop and the new options are exciting!
I think it is a major improvement that worth the upgrade. The fact that you only need one server to use it make it even more appealing.
Check this great video to get a first look.
The management screen is split to Policies - where most of the old options stay and Preferences with the new options.
The next option level is sorted to 2:
Windows Settings - contain everything that required scripting in the past
Control Panel Settings - contain everything that was changeable via... Control Panel

I find the most exciting feature to be Scheduled Tasks. Yes, it is not fancy or new but it is something useful that wasn't there and actually change my life as an administrator. I can configure tasks for PCs or Servers anywhere, anytime without physically getting there. That is a major time saver.
Other features that got better and I find useful include:
Devices - allow you to enable\disable devices
Folder Options - changing the settings of a specific folder
Power Options - much better control on the power options, this make green look greener
Services - allow you to change Service configuration

Another major change is Item-level targeting, a concept that apply changes only under specified set of conditions. With Item-level targeting you can compare Registry keys, use a range of IP addresses, rely on the local PC language or domain name and few other targeting options.

As I said before, you do not have to upgrade all your servers, 1 2008 server would be enough.
To manage from Windows 2003 server or Vista (and Windows 7) Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) is required
Client side require Group Policy preferences client-side extension (CSE)

This is another step to make our life easier and make tasks easier. The domain environment is much more manageable under this new set of tools.
I just wonder if it is becoming so easy to manage the domain what would happen to us, does our expertise still count?

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