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Group Policy Preferences Getting Started Guide

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

Group Policy preferences, new for the Windows Server 2008 operating system, include more than 20 new Group Policy extensions that expand the range of configurable settings within a Group Policy object (GPO). These new extensions are included in the Group Policy Management Editor window of the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), under the new Preferences item. Examples of the new Group Policy preference extensions include folder options, mapped drives, printers, scheduled tasks, services, and Start menu settings.

Group Policy preferences provide better targeting, through item-level targeting and action modes. Additionally, rich user interfaces and standards-based XML configurations provide you with more power and flexibility over managed computers when you administer GPOs.

In addition to providing significantly more coverage, better targeting, and easier management, Group Policy preferences enable you to deploy settings to client computers without restricting the users from changing the settings. This capability provides you with the flexibility to decide which settings to enforce and which settings to not enforce. You can deploy settings that you do not want to enforce by using Group Policy preferences.

System requirements and installation steps

To use Group Policy preferences, complete the following steps:

  1. Install the set of client-side extensions (CSEs) on client computers. Supported operating systems: Windows Vista RTM or later, Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later, Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 or later

  2. Install the XMLLite low-level XML parser on client computers that are not running Windows Vista.

  3. If you are running Windows Server 2008, use the Group Policy Management Editor window of the GPMC to configure Group Policy preferences. No download is required in this case, because Group Policy preferences are included with the GPMC in Windows Server 2008. For information about how to view Group Policy preferences, see the next section, "Viewing Group Policy Preferences."


If you are running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1, you can install Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) and then use the GPMC. RSAT, which is available from the Microsoft Download Center, includes the updated version of the GPMC. The updated version of the GPMC includes Group Policy preferences. You can use RSAT to manage 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows Server 2008. For information about how to install RSAT, see “Installing Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT)” later in this topic. Keep in mind that installing RSAT does not install the CSEs.

Viewing Group Policy preferences

To locate Group Policy preferences, follow these steps:

To locate Group Policy preferences

  1. Open the GPMC. To open the GPMC, click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  2. In the GPMC console tree, expand Group Policy Objects in the forest and domain containing the GPO that you want to edit.

  3. Right-click the GPO that you want to edit, and then click Edit.

  4. In the console tree, expand Computer Configuration or User Configuration, expand Preferences, and then expand or click items as needed. Click an item in the console tree to view the associated settings in the details pane.

Installing RSAT

To install RSAT, follow these steps:

To install RSAT

  1. Download RSAT from either of the following locations:

  2. Open the folder into which the package downloaded, and double-click the package to unpack it and start the Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools Setup Wizard.

  3. Complete the steps required by the wizard, and click Finish to exit the wizard when installation is complete.

  4. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Programs.

  5. In the Programs and Features area, click Turn Windows features on or off.

  6. If you are prompted by User Account Control to allow the Windows Features dialog box to open, click Continue.

  7. In the Turn Windows features on or off dialog box, expand Remote Server Administration Tools, and then expand Feature Administration Tools.

  8. To install the GPMC, select the Feature Administration Tools check box, and then select the Group Policy Management Tools check box.

  9. To install additional remote management tools, select the check boxes that correspond to the tools that you want to install.

  10. Click OK.

For a complete list of tools included in the RSAT package, installation instructions, and other Help topics, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Remote Server Administration Tools Help.

Additional references