Targeting OS Platform/Bitness with Group Policy Preferences

I’ve had several people ask about targeting the bit level/bitness/platform of Windows with Group Policy Preferences using Item Level Targeting who were having problems getting it to work properly. Before we jump in, I should probably define bitness since I only first heard the term a few months back (Sorry… no… I can’t claim credit for making it up…). There’s an MSDN glossary entry that has very geeky sounding definition: “The distinction between 32-bit and 64-bit address spaces, and the potential differences in instantiation of components that this entails.” The less geeky, but easier to explain to your co-workers and/or boss definition is that we want to determine whether the operating system is 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) so we can selectively apply a Group Policy Preference setting. Continue reading

Control the Windows 8.1 Start Screen Layout with Group Policy

If you had the opportunity to attend TechEd North America 2013, one of the new Windows 8.1 features that was showed off was the ability to set the layout of the Start screen in Group Policy. (In the event you didn’t attend, you can watch a replay of the keynote here; skip to 13:30 to see the demo of customizing the Start screen.) Continue reading

Set the Default Save Location to Computer in Office 2013

Office 2013 comes with a number of cool new features. One of those new features is the ability to save to “cloud” locations like SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro right out of the box without having to install extra helper applications that sync the data down to the local system. With the big cloud push at Microsoft, the locations are now favored by default over saving to the local storage or mapped drives on a computer. This can be changed in the UI of the various Office applications. However, Microsoft chose not to include the option to change the default in Group Policy. The good news is that the settings can be configured in the Registry which means they can be manipulated by Group Policy Preferences.

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Disable Adobe Acrobat XI Updates with Group Policy

01-disable_acrobat_xi_updates-iconBy default, an installation of Adobe Acrobat XI will check for updates and then will prompt the end user to install the update whether or not the user has Admin rights. In a small environment, this may not be a problem, but in a larger environment, this can generate a lot of unnecessary support requests when a user that doesn’t have Admin rights gets a UAC prompt that wants Admin credentials. Here’s how to disable the Acrobat update checks so that your end users don’t see messages like this:

01-disable_acrobat_xi_updates-balloon

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Disable Adobe Reader XI Updates with Group Policy

01-disable_reader_11_updates-iconLike Adobe Reader X, an installation of Adobe Reader XI can check for updates automatically. In a small environment, this may not be a problem (honestly, I would encourage it!). However, in a larger (typically managed) environment, this can generate unnecessary bandwidth usage, problems when users update their own installs with untested updates, and unnecessary support requests to your Help Desk or IT personnel. Here’s how to disable the Reader XI update checks so that your end users don’t see update notices and can’t manually install updates.

02-disable_reader_11_updates-balloon

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[Sort of] Manage Adobe Acrobat XI with Group Policy

Like Adobe Reader XI, Adobe Reader XI has added the ability to be managed by Group Policy. Now that Adobe has released Adobe Acrobat XI, the administrator templates are also available for download (ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/acrobat/win/11.x/11.0.00/misc/AcrobatADMTemplate.zip), here’s how you install the Administrative Templates to start managing the settings Adobe deemed to be “common enterprise settings.”

Update (November 8, 2012) – Adobe has released the Adobe Customization Wizard XI for Windows. You can download it here: http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5515.

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[Sort of] Manage Adobe Reader XI with Group Policy

When Adobe announced Adobe Reader XI a few weeks ago, one of the new features listed was the ability to [finally!] manage common enterprise settings with Group Policy. Previously, you had to do all of this by customizing your install with the Adobe Customization Wizard. If you didn’t do that, your other option was to either edit the Registry or use one of the custom ADM/ADMX files floating around out there that (#1) isn’t supported by Adobe and (#2) isn’t true Group Policy since it isn’t modifying one of the Policy areas of the Registry.

Now that Adobe has released Adobe Reader XI, the administrator templates are also available for download (ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/win/11.x/11.0.00/misc/ReaderADMTemplate.zip), here’s how you install the Administrative Templates to start managing the settings Adobe deemed to be “common enterprise settings.”

Update (November 8, 2012) – Adobe has released the Adobe Customization Wizard XI for Windows. You can download it here: http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5515.

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