When group policy debuted 15 years ago, most organizational computers were desk bound in offices. Today’s computers are different, and so is the manner in which organizations manage their configuration.
Today’s computers are more likely to be mobile rather than desk bound, not all of them run Windows, and of those that do, not all will be domain joined. Today’s IT departments need to manage the configuration of a broad set of devices. These devices may be connected to the corporate network or may only connect to corporate assets through a remote access connection. Managing the configuration of these devices is likely to need a solution beyond that offered by group policy.
In my opinion it’s unlikely that group policy will be substantially modified to deal with these challenges. Since the release of Group Policy Preferences with Server 2008, changes in group policy have been of an incremental, rather than radical, nature. I’m not saying that Group Policy is going to go away. I expect that there will be additional policies released with the next version of Windows Server as well as for Windows 10. It’s also reasonable to say that Group Policy is going to be around for some time.
What I am suggesting is that it appears that Group Policy is unlikely to change radically in a way that allows it to be used to meet the challenges of managing a diverse range of client operating systems connecting to organizational resources using a variety of methods. That it will still be relevant in a specific set of scenarios, but that those scenarios may not reflect how a growing number of organizations do IT in the future.
In the next two posts, I’ll talk about other Microsoft technologies that you can use to manage the configuration of devices running Windows as well as other operating systems, whether those devices are on the corporate network, or only connected through a remote access solution.