Group Policy Preferences


GP Preferences was released with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It gives much more flexibility in addition to Group Policy Settings (administrative templates), and in some environments it may completely replace logon scripts.



GP Preferences Overview

To work with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 there must be installed client-side extensions. The most common and practical way to deploy these would be to approve them in WSUS.

If setup and managed from Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, GP Preferences may also be implemented in a Active Directory domain in Windows Server 2003 mode. This is described in more detail here.

Group Policy preference client-side extension can be downloaded here.

Group Policy Preferences overview whitepaper can be downloaded here.


Preferences vs. Settings (from the whitepaper)

Group Policy Preferences

Group Policy Settings


· Preferences are not enforced

· User interface is not disabled

· Can be refreshed or applied once

· Settings are enforced

· User interface is disabled

· Settings are refreshed


· Easily create preference items for registry settings, files, and so on

· Import individual registry settings or entire registry branches from a local or a remote computer

· Adding policy settings requires application support and creating administrative templates

· Cannot create policy settings to manage files, folders, and so on

Local Policy

· Not available in local Group Policy

· Available in local Group Policy


· Supports non-Group Policy-aware applications

· Requires Group Policy-aware applications


· Original settings are overwritten

· Removing the preference item does not restore the original setting

· Original settings are not changed

· Stored in registry Policy branches

· Removing the policy setting restores the original settings

Targeting and Filtering

· Targeting is granular, with a user interface for each type of targeting item

· Supports targeting at the individual preference item level

· Filtering is based on Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and requires writing WMI queries

· Supports filtering at a GPO level

User Interface

· Provides a familiar, easy-to-use interface for configuring most settings

· Provides an alternative user interface for most policy settings

Also, see this blog post from the Group Policy team regarding GP Preferences vs GP Settings.


Example usage

Drive mapping


Printer mapping


Power Options



Group Policy Resources 

Group Policy Team Blog

GPOGuy – whitepapers, blog, free tools and some excellent video trainings

GPanswers – newsletters, book resources, community forum and more.