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Oct 2009

The Case of the Missing Group Policy Settings


Check this out.

Let’s say you had a Windows 7 management machine and also a Windows Server 2008 (or 2008 R2) as your management machine.(In “Jeremy-parlance” a “management machine” is where you run the GPMC from.)

Turns out that on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 / R2, there’s a gaggle of “extra” policy settings !

Seriously, this is weird, so stick with me.

Click here:
…and you’ll see the Windows 7 management machine view of the Computer Configuration | Policies | Administrative Templates | System | Group Policy node.

Click here:
…and you’ll see shows the same thing, except seen from a Windows Server 2008 management machine.

So, what are these “missing” definitions?

These are the settings used to control, manage and monitor the Group Policy Preferences settings. The very “way” GP Prefs “operates.” You’ll see specific Group Policy Preferences items like “Printers Policy Processing”, “Shortcuts Policy Processing”, “Start Menu Policy Processing” and all sorts of other Group Policy Preferences-specific settings.

And my favorite strangeness in this area is “Registry Policy Processing” (with an upper case P in Policy) right next to its cousin “Registy policy processing” (with a lower case P in policy.) The lower case P policy (Registry policy Processing) is about how we handle the stuff inside the “Administrative Templates” node; ya know – “normal” Group Policy settings like “Prevent Access to the Control Panel.” The upper case P policy setting (Registry Policy Processing) is about the “Registry node” in the Group Policy Preferences (Chapter 10 in the Green book)

Bizzaro, but now at least it’s understandable.

Look closely, and you’ll also see another whole node within the Group Policy node called “Logging and tracing.”

Okay, so what gives?

I’ll go more into this at another time, but since you can’t wait that long, here’s the abbreviated version. In short the “definitions” of what’s possible in Group Policy-land are stored in ADMX files Turns out, though that Windows 7’s RSAT and Windows Server 2008 don’t ship with the exact same definitions.

Kooky. The “missing” Group Policy settings are only available in Windows Server 2008’s “set” of definitions. And, yes, that set is downloadable if you don’t want to rip it out of an existing Windows Server 2008 machine.

To catch-up your “Windows 7 management machine” download and utilize the files here (though there are sure to be updates for Windows Server 2008 R2, so, I would try to track those down when available.)

Don’t be caught off guard if a GP Prefs problem occurs… now you’re in the know!

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