How do you get smarter in MDM & Group Policy?

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Dates Class Actions
04 / 09 / 2019 Tampa2019 Learn More

How do you get smarter in MDM & Group Policy?

Mar 2019
13

Solving the Mystery of MDMWinsOverGP Basics with Intune

Surprises are great when you are engrossed in a captivating movie.  A good novel always has multiple twists that you don’t see coming.  For the most part though, the world prefers predictability, especially when it comes to managing corporate enterprises.  The whole purpose of deploying settings is to ensure conformity to your enterprise client devices.  Group Policy and MDM were made to deliver a level of certainty to the enterprise.  

So what happens when Group Policy Settings and MDM settings collide with one another?  Because Windows 10 can potentially be a member of an on-prem active directory domain and be MDM enrolled as well, that is a distinct possibility.  Starting with the 1709 release, Microsoft unveiled a GPO setting that allows hybrid joined devices to be automatically MDM enrolled.  So let’s say we have a hybrid environment of Windows 10 laptops and just for grins we disabled Cortana using an MDM policy setting and enabled it using a Group Policy Setting.  Which policy do you would win out?  

If you had to guess, you would probably say Group Policy since it is the elder of the two.  If you did, you would be sort of wrong.  You would also be sort of wrong if you said MDM. 

How can you be sort of wrong you ask? 

Because when MDM and GP settings conflict, we honestly have no idea which one is going to win out. 

In fact, that is the default, expected behavior.  Yes, the default behavior is uncertainty.  Just like the stock market doesn’t like uncertainty, neither do network admins.

So in order to add some stability to these conflicting scenarios, Microsoft introduced a Policy CSP called ControlPolicyConflict/MDMWinsOverGP.  It uses an integer based data type for which there are two supported values:

  • 0 (default state of uncertainty)
  • 1 - The MDM policy is used and the GP policy is blocked.

To enable this policy, we have to create a custom OMA-URI setting as shown in the screenshot below.

So if MDM and the same Group Policy setting are contending to assign the SAME value to the SAME setting .. then you can use MDMWinsOverGP to force the MDM to always regardless of what GP is trying to do.  

If you are managing a hybrid environment with MDM and GPO, it may in fact be good practice to enable this CSP for good measure just to ensure that certainty will always prevail.  In the IT world, certainty is a good thing.

Mar 2019
05

The Original Co-Management Model of SCCM and Intune Hybrid

Long, long ago, well, actually not so long ago, there were two worlds.  There was the on-prem world and the mobile world, and the two would never become one, until of course they did one day.  Up until Windows 10 version 1607, a device could either be on premise AD or Azure AD.  This made sense at the time.  Back then, MDM enrolled machines was pretty much restricted to mobile devices as administrators wanted the extensive management control that Group Policy or SCCM provided them for enterprise desktops. Mobile devices were better served in the cloud and outside of device resets and remote wipe capabilities, there wasn’t much you could do with MDM early on.

It wasn’t thought a good idea at the time to have settings delivered from multiple sources.  In order to prevent that from happening, devices were blocked from the ability to simultaneously register with SCCM and Intune at the same time.  In fact, the activation of the SCCM client on a Windows device automatically disabled any built-in MDM capabilities.  Devices were segregated to one or the other.

If your company’s IT staff had separated SCCM administrators and mobile device administrators, then everything was fine.  But if you had to manage both desktops and tablets, you had to switch back and forth between the Configuration Manager console and the MDM console.  So Microsoft set about to integrate Configuration Manager with Intune with what was called “hybrid configuration” so that both on-prem and mobile devices could be managed from the same console.  Co-management between the two was born.  Note that Intune was the only MDM supported in this scenario.  The merging of these two platforms is illustrated below.

But as in everything, things change.  Microsoft put more focus into MDM as time went on, and as a result, more setting capabilities and features were built into Intune.  Organizations also started recognizing the value of migrating more computers to the cloud than just mobile devices.  Microsoft also began figuring out that it was in their interest to encourage customers to move to the cloud.  Because of these and other factors, the usefulness of allowing devices to co-exist in both on-prem AD and Azure AD was realized.  Starting with 1607, computers could be a part of both at the same time.  Then came 1709 in which the SCCM client could now run on a device without its MDM capabilities being disabled.  This made it possible for a computer to receive setting input from both sources.  This signaled the end of Hybrid MDM.  In August of 2018, Hybrid MDM became a deprecated feature and Microsoft began blocking the registering of new Hybrid MDM customers in November of the same year. 

Jan 2019
25

Creating ADMX-backed policies is hard in Intune. Here's some guides to help you.

I have to admit... making a simple registry change in Intune can be ... difficult. 

The Administrative Templates function is nice, for those (under 300 settings) that support them. 

But for the rest of the simple settings ... you might have hand-create custom OMA-URIs and usin ADMX backed policies to do it.

Here are some others' great guides to help you "follow the leaders" and convert your ADMX and/or use an ADMX-backed policy:

Those resources, show how to tear into an ADMX and ADML file and create a more complex ADMX-backed policy:

  • https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/client-management/mdm/understanding-admx-backed-policies
  • https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/client-management/mdm/enable-admx-backed-policies-in-mdm
  • https://www.petervanderwoude.nl/post/allow-users-to-connect-remotely-to-this-computer-via-windows-10-mdm-admx-style/
  • https://www.petervanderwoude.nl/post/deep-dive-configuring-windows-10-admx-backed-policies/
  • http://carlbarrett.uk/admx-backed-policies-quickish-reference-guide
  • http://thesccm.com/use-intune-policy-csp-manage-windows-10-settings-internet-explorer-site-to-zone-assignment-list/

 

Jan 2019
22

Office 2016 ADMX templates, seemingly broken for Outlook ADMX

I got a tip from Pat DiPersia at www.dipersiatech.com and Susan Bradley, MVP about this one.

In short, I tested it myself, but the latest Office 2016 ADMX files seem to have got a messed up XML tag, rendering the Outlook policy useless. I tested both the 32 and 64 bit templates. They both have problems with Outlook.

I've reached out to report this issue.

At least now you know if you're trying it yourself... you're not crazy !

The error when adding to your Policy store looks like this after you click on Admin Templates.

TIP:

The issue is the /policies closing tag is before the final /policy closing tag.  Looks like someone added a policy after the fact, and didn’t put it in the right spot.  The /policies tag on line 6285, should be on line 6296 (Followed by /policydefinitions.) See screenshot below.

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