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Advanced methods of extending Group Policy

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Advanced methods of extending Group Policy

The following table lists advanced methods that you can use to extend Group Policy functionality.


Method Advantages Disadvantages

For administrators only: Write an .adm file

  • Easier than writing an extension to Group Policy.

  • Everything you need is included in the Windows Server 2003 family.

  • The .adm files are text files, which you can edit in Notepad.

  • You can write from scratch or modify existing templates to suit your purpose.

  • This option is only suitable for registry-based policies.

  • The user interface is limited. Finding where to set individual policies might be difficult.

For software developers only: Write an extension to Group Policy

  • Richer user interface.

  • The full Group Policy application programming interface (API) is available to the developer.

  • Not limited to registry-based policies.

  • Because writing an extension takes considerable development time, this option is not worthwhile unless it will be used widely or often.

  • Requires software development kit (SDK) material that is not included with the Windows Server 2003 family.

Creating custom .adm files

You can consider creating custom .adm files if the supplied template, System.adm, is inadequate. However, it is recommended that you use the supplied template.

Administrative Templates propagate registry settings to a large number of computers without requiring you to have detailed knowledge of the registry. In the Windows Server 2003 family, Group Policy is used to set registry-based policies. In Windows NT 4.0, the System Policy Editor (Poledit.exe) was used to set System Policy.

For more information, see "Implementing Registry-based Policy" at the Microsoft Web site.

Creating Microsoft Management Console extensions

Developers can create extensions to Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins to provide program-specific user interfaces for setting Group Policy. For more information, see "Group Policy" at the Microsoft Web site and "MSDN Library" at the Microsoft Web site.

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