Group Policy Preferences is one of a raft of technologies that debuted with Windows Server 2008. One of the challenges for administrators still running Windows Server 2003 migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2 is that the majority of content that’s bubbling near the surface of the web in 2015 is focused on what’s new and exciting in Windows Server 2012 R2. There are some interesting technologies that debuted in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that are still in the operating system, it’s just because they haven’t changed much in the last 7 years, they don’t get written about anymore.
Logon scripts are the bane for many administrators often because they tend to grow by a process of accretion. Rather than rewrite them from scratch as circumstances change, admins have a tendency to kludge them on an ad-hoc basis as required. I’ve seen insanely long logon scripts that are supposed to perform fairly routine tasks. Admins that have inherited them from previous admins have decided to just add more bits on as required rather than dig through and try and figure out the logic of what is going on which would be a necessary step before rewriting the whole thing from scratch.
The idea behind group policy preferences is to use group policy to accomplish of what has been traditionally accomplished with logon scripts. For example, mapping network drives, configuring printer connections, registry configuration, and local file system configuration. Group policy preferences can’t do everything a logon script can do, but it can replicate a substantial amount logon script functionality.
In the next two posts I’ll take you through what you can do with group policy preferences and why you should consider using them, rather than logon scripts, when you’ve completed your migration away from Windows Server 2003.