|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
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
Jan. 24, 2017 05:00 AM EST Reads: 3,104
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Jan. 24, 2017 04:00 AM EST Reads: 6,689
While many government agencies have embraced the idea of employing cloud computing as a tool for increasing the efficiency and flexibility of IT, many still struggle with large scale adoption. The challenge is mainly attributed to the federated structure of these agencies as well as the immaturity of brokerage and governance tools and models. Initiatives like FedRAMP are a great first step toward solving many of these challenges but there are a lot of unknowns that are yet to be tackled. In hi...
Jan. 24, 2017 02:45 AM EST Reads: 3,943
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Jan. 24, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 4,270
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
Jan. 24, 2017 02:15 AM EST Reads: 6,714
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Jan. 24, 2017 02:00 AM EST Reads: 1,933
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Jan. 24, 2017 02:00 AM EST Reads: 5,630
"Splunk basically takes machine data and we make it usable, valuable and accessible for everyone. The way that plays in DevOps is - we need to make data-driven decisions to delivering applications," explained Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk and @DevOpsSummit Conference Chair, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 24, 2017 01:45 AM EST Reads: 2,266
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Robert Doyle, lead architect at eCube Systems, will examine the issues and need for an agile infrastructure and show the advantages of capturing developer knowledge in an exportable file for migration into production. He will introduce the use of NXTmonitor, a next-generation DevOps tool that captures application environments, dependencies and start/stop procedures in a portable configuration file with an easy-to-use GUI. In addition to captur...
Jan. 24, 2017 01:15 AM EST Reads: 2,969
"Logz.io is a log analytics platform. We offer the ELK stack, which is the most common log analytics platform in the world. We offer it as a cloud service," explained Tomer Levy, co-founder and CEO of Logz.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 24, 2017 01:15 AM EST Reads: 6,455
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
Jan. 24, 2017 12:30 AM EST Reads: 5,126
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 24, 2017 12:30 AM EST Reads: 2,381
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jan. 24, 2017 12:30 AM EST Reads: 6,441
Hardware virtualization and cloud computing allowed us to increase resource utilization and increase our flexibility to respond to business demand. Docker Containers are the next quantum leap - Are they?! Databases always represented an additional set of challenges unique to running workloads requiring a maximum of I/O, network, CPU resources combined with data locality.
Jan. 24, 2017 12:15 AM EST Reads: 1,010
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jan. 24, 2017 12:15 AM EST Reads: 4,782