How can I manage Group Policy for Windows Vista machines?

A. The tools provided with Windows Server 2003 don't understand Vista's new ADMX administrative template files, and therefore you can't use them to manage Vista's Group Policy options.

With Vista, Microsoft has taken the approach of "managing Vista from Vista," which means that to manage Group Policy settings that will apply to a Vista machine, you have to edit the Group Policy from a Vista computer (or Longhorn Server).

Group Policy Editor (GPE) and Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), which come as part of Vista, have been updated to look for the new ADMX format files locally and from the optional central store and load any custom ADM files that might exist within a Group Policy Object (GPO). The old ADM files that have been superseded by ADMX files (i.e., System.adm, Inetres.adm, Conf.adm, Wmplayer.adm, and Wuau.adm.) are not read by the new version of GPE, but all settings from these legacy ADM files are covered by the new ADMX files, so no functionality is lost.

We've already established that, in a mixed environment, to manage Vista clients, you have to manage the Group Policy settings from a Vista computer. If a GPO with new Vista settings configured is edited by using a legacy GPE (Windows 2003/XP/2000), then the extra settings will be displayed under "Extra registry settings" in GPMC as the figure shows. The best practice is therefore to roll out Vista to the group policy administrators' workstations first and restrict Group Policy management to those machines.

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