|By Matt Hester||
|March 31, 2014 11:00 AM EDT||
Whenever the topic of working with desktops in business is brought up, IT Pro’s always want to manage and maintain those desktops. For me the first thing that always come to mind is Group Policy and hopefully does for you as well. Group Policy is one of the primary tools you can quickly leverage to help control your IT infrastructure. What better way to manage our desktops than with a free tool that is built into Active Directory, and has been there since the Windows NT days.
In today’s post I am going to take a look at some of the new features in Windows 8.1 Group Policy as well as some of the new settings you will want to learn to leverage to help manage your desktops. Oh, by the way you can still change the user's desktop background to blue, with blue labels on the shortcuts, or put the logoff command in the log in script, if you are so inclined not that I have ever done that.
Now if you are not familiar with Group Policy I would highly recommend you start here: Group Policy for Beginners The article will help you get familiar with how Group Policy works and how it is configured.
New Settings in Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 has a lot of new Group Policy settings from controlling the Start Screen to controlling the caching mode of Group Policy and everything in between. So where can you go to learn about all the settings? The best place to start is the Group Policy Settings reference. This is a spreadsheet you can download and has all the group policy settings documented for you to review. It also provides some nice filtering tools. Specifically you can filter for polices that are new to Windows 8.1, by filtering the last column New in 8.1 to True. (Thanks Keith for the tip) You can download the settings reference file here:
The rest of this article will focus on some useful new settings including policy caching and settings to help you control the Start Screen.
Group Policy Caching
New in Windows Server 2012 R2 group policy caching helps speed up your group policy processing when you are in synchronous mode processing. Before I go any further, in Group Policy there are two modes of how policies are processed by the client, synchronous and asynchronous. This mode impacts how fast policy is processed and ultimately when a user sees the login screen.
- Synchronous: at a high level, this processing mode will make sure Group Policy is processed in order and the user will not be presented with the login screen until all the policies have been processed.
- Asynchronous: this processing mode is going to try to get to the login in screen as fast as it can during system start up. Potentially this means you may be able to login while Group Policy is still processing in the background. You may have heard of this setting before as it was known as Fast Logon, which was introduced in Windows XP.
With Policy caching when your system gets the latest version of a policy from the domain controller, it writes that policy to a local store. Then if Group Policy is running in synchronous mode the next time the computer reboots, it reads the most recently downloaded version of the policy from the local store, instead of downloading it from the network. This is especially important if you have a latent connection to the domain controller, for example, with DirectAccess or for computers that are off premises. To configure this you will need to modify the Configure Group Policy Caching policy, and that is found in this location: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\
To take a more in detailed look at Group Policy Caching take a look here: Understanding Group Policy Caching in Windows 8.1
Managing the Start Screen
One of the new improvements to Windows 8.1 group policy is the ability to manage the Start Screen. In previous operating systems you also had many ways to control the start menu, desktop layout, and many other settings to help manage your users experience when they logged on. There are two areas we will take a look at in this section. First we will take a look at customizing the start screen layout. Secondly you will see how you can start the users on the desktop instead of the Start Screen.
Customizing the Start Screen begins with building a desktop with the Start Screen layout that meets your corporate requirements. Once that is done then you get to use our friend PowerShell and the Export-StartLayout cmdlet to export your Start Screen layout into an .xml or .bin file. To learn more about the cmdlet take a look here: Export-StartLayout. The PowerShell command would look something like this, if you wanted to save an .xml file to the d: drive.
Export-StartLayout -Path "d:\startlayout.xml" -As XML
Once you have the file created, you will want to place the file in a shared folder on one of servers that your desktops can access, for example you could place the files on share in your DC. Then you will need to configure the Start Screen Layout policy located here: Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar in either User Configuration or Computer Configuration. This then will allow you to control the layout of the desktops for the users you apply the policy to. For a deeper look and how to set this up as well as configuring this locally take a look here:
Lastly, let’s take a look at how to start your users on the desktop. As I mentioned in my article on the Start Screen, Windows 8.1 for Business- Oh Start menu, how do I miss thee…or do I , my favorite app is the desktop when I am working. My teammate Jennelle showed you how to start on the desktop by hand in her article, Beloved Desktop, Where Art Thou. Now let’s take a look at how easy this is to do with Group Policy.
The policy you will want to set is the Go to the desktop instead of Start when signing in or when all the apps on a screen are closed This policy will start your users right on the desktop when the login. You can find this policy here: User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar .
This article took a look at just a couple of the new policies settings for Windows 8.1 desktop. However, do not forgot the 1000’s of other policy settings at your fingertips or that you can also use Group Policy to manage your servers as well.
I hope you enjoyed a look at Group Policy and Windows 8.1 and we hope you are enjoying the series, and if you missed any of the Windows 8.1 for business series you can find them here: http://aka.ms/Win814Biz
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 5, 2016 03:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 5, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 681
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 320
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 316
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 506
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:15 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:00 AM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 291
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 303
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 4, 2016 09:15 PM EST Reads: 740
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 388
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 814
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 894
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 692
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,116
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,173
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 767
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 733
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,237