Group Policy Preference is a new feature to the Windows Server 2008 that enables you to configure other computer or user preferences that are not covered with Group Policy Settings. An example of which is the mapping network drives, which traditionally we use a logon script that is being executed by a Group Policy Settings.
Making this overview short, Group Policy Preferences are initial configurations and can be re-configured by the end user , while the Group Policy Settings are strictly enforced to the target object (a user / machine). This makes your environment FLEXIBLE and HUMAN FRIENDLY. Also. flexibility is most exampled in the scenario where you can apply once and do not re-apply again. This also helps with deployment if you are deploying hundreds of machines but with different group initial preferences which can be configured by the end user.
Group Policy Preference Extensions:
The Group Policy Preference can be used thru the Server manager Feature Snap in.
But most administrators, like me, most of us don’t really like going to the server room or going remote desktop, if you are like me (having Vista Enterprise, Business for clients + Server 2008 Forest) you can use the Remote Server Administration Tool, RSAT: A how to is described in this link. I would really recommend this if you are managing a whole forest say with 5 local domain and 1 global domain.
If you still do not have an RSAT you can also download the Group Policy Preference Client Side Extensions for Windows Vista x64 Edition (KB943729)
Quick Note: you must have a Genuine Vista in order to download this update.
Launch the Group Policy Management Console from your Administrative Tools
I already created my GPO which is called "Preferences" (to create this just right click on the level you want to apply the GP, then either Create a GPO or link an existing GPO) . This sample GPO will be our test bed for our Group Policy Preferences. You can right click it and on the context menu, select edit.
just a quick side by side comparison on the Group Policy with Preferences and Policies group with the local Group Policy. you will notice that there is a new grouping and that’s what separates the Policies and the Preferences. There is this usual Computer and User groups and is being used still even with the introduction of preferences making our configurations more flexible.
For the first preferences that we will configure I have chosen to map a network share thru Group Policy Preference, which otherwise we are going to configure and deploy using a combination of standard GPO and a batch file.
With the Group Policy Preferences, we can now deploy Mapped Network Drives by just going to the User Configuration, navigate to the PREFERENCES, then expand Windows Settings. On the Map Drives icon, right click new and then Click Map Drive.
From there everything is straight forward, you can create, replace, update and delete existing network drive. Put your network location, specify drive letter and thats it.
You can also specify the account that will be used to connect to this drive.
Group Policy References is available on Windows Server 2008,
Group Policy Preferences are initial configurations and can be re-configured by the end user , while the Group Policy Settings are strictly enforced to the target object (a user / machine).
Can be managed using Server Manager Feature snap-in, Vista RSAT or via Group Policy Preference Client Side Extensions for Windows Vista .
This gives more ease of management, rather than thinking if the script we wrote will run at all, we now focus on the business objectives which is far more important.
More information is available about Group Policy preferences here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=42e30e3f-6f01-4610-9d6e-f6e0fb7a0790&DisplayLang=en