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

Group Policy Quick Tip: Exclude Files From Being Cached by Offline Files

In this edition of Group Policy Quick Tips, I’ll be covering a policy that has been around a while, but was renamed and might be hard to find if you haven’t configured it before.  In Windows 7/Server 2008 R2, this setting was called “Exclude files from being cached.”  With Windows 8.x/Server 2012, the name changed to “Enable file screens.”  Same thing; different name.

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Group Policy Hotfixes

KB2862565 – AppLocker blocks administrators and other high privileged group’s users from executing files on a Windows 7 SP1-based or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1-based computer

KB2849027 – Internet Explorer 10 security settings are silently applied to client computers when you use GPMC to view the Group Policy Preferences settings in Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012

KB2466373 – BACKSPACE or arrow keys do not work in MMC [especially in the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC)!!!!] on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2

KB2816253 – Known issues with Office if Desktop or My Documents is redirected

KB981177 – You can still unpin a program from the taskbar unexpectedly when you enable the “Do not allow pinning programs to the Taskbar” Group Policy on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2

KB981750 – Error message occurs when you use GPMC to view a software restriction Group Policy setting in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2: “An error has occurred while collecting data for Software Restriction Policies”

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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

Folder Redirection

In this series, I cover folder redirection in Group Policy.

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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Group Policy Quick Tip – Disable IE Add-On Performance Notifications

One of the features include in Internet Explorer 9+ is performance notifications for plug-ins.  With this feature, the user is notified when plugins are slowing down browser performance.  As the screenshot below shows, the user is presented with a dialog at the bottom of the browser window that says, “Speed up startup and browsing by disabling add-ons.”  The user has the option of disabling add-ons, being prompted later, or closing the dialog out by clicking the ‘x.’


The downside is that users can accidentally turn off browser plugins with this feature or, in a fully managed environment, generate calls to the help desk when browser plugins are pushed to computers.  The good news is that the notifications can be disabled in Group Policy.

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