With each new edition of Windows, Microsoft adds new Group Policy capabilities. Group Policy has been with us since the release of Windows 2000, but has roots going back to Windows 95 and Windows NT in the older System Policies. Group Policy allows you to centrally configure settings for Windows clients and servers using Active Directory for deployment and application of these settings.
Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduce new Group Policy settings that may be important to network and system admins. Most of the new settings are related to new features, but many of them are related to existing features from previous editions of Windows as well. In total, Windows Server 2012 not supports more than 3,400 policy settings. Some apply only to older versions and some apply only to newer versions, but with this many policy settings you clearly have a lot of flexibility in centralized management and configuration of the Windows OS.
169 new policies have been created that require Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 to function. This does not include the policies that require Internet Explorer 10, which typically means you’re running Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 as well.
Examples of important policies for Enterprise deployments include:
- Turn off the Store application (can be applied to users or computers)
- Turn off tile notifications (the rectangles on the Start screen)
- Turn off toast notifications (the popup notifications in the upper right corner)
- Location where all default Library definition files for users/machines reside (allows you to point to a single location for consistent Libraries on all computers)
- Prevent users from uninstalling applications from Start (normally, you can right-click a tile and simply click uninstall – not good in the Enterprise!)
- Turn off app notifications on the lock screen (may be required for privacy or to reduce network bandwidth consumption)
In addition to the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 policies, another 69 require Internet Explorer 10 or above. You can learn more about all the policies (old and new) by downloading the Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows and Windows Server located here.