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Disable Windows 7 Action Center

If for some reason you don’t want to use Group Policy to disable the Windows 7 Action Center, then there is a registry key you can set to disable it. 




Once the registry key is set to a value of “1”, certain items will be greyed out in the Action Center configuration, and you will no longer see the Action Center icon in the system tray.


There is a simple Group Policy setting for this as well, this is generally my preference, but I had a client who wanted to disable it in the image regardless.

User Configuration – Policies – Admin Templates – Start Menu and TaskBar – Remove the Action Center Icon



Target Group Policy Preferences by Container, not but Group

Great Group Policy Preferences post over on the Ask the Directory Services Team Blog.

Read the full post here.

Hello again AskDS readers, Mike here again. This post reflects on Group Policy Preference targeting items, specifically targeting by security groups. Targeting preference items by security groups is a bad idea. There is a better way that most environments can accomplish the same result, at a fraction of the cost.


Springboard Series: Understanding Group Policy Settings in Internet Explorer 8

Nice post over on Springboard.

“To start, I wanted to address that Internet Explorer 8 has over 1300 Group Policy entries that can be configured, which is great for keeping your environment managed and safe. That can also create some challenges in wrapping your head around all of the possibilities, so I wanted to begin with a list of 10 entries that are usually the most asked-about control locations for IE8 from a support perspective. Hopefully, this will give a bit of a "jumping off" point to managing Internet Explorer with Group Policy. It’s one of the most powerful features of using Internet Explorer 8 in an Active Directory domain, so I want to make this easier to use and understand.”

Read the full post here.


PolicyMaker registry extension crashes Group Policy snap-in

Thank you Microsoft :) 

If you use PolicyMaker, there is a nice issue whenever you try to view the PolicyMaker extensions in a GPO it will crash your MMC session.  Looks like it’s an issue with IE7


To resolve this issue, configure the following registry value in Registry Editor:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\FeatureControl\FEATURE_OBJECT_CACHING\mmc.exe

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. Locate the following registry subkey, and then right-click it:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\FeatureControl\FEATURE_OBJECT_CACHING

  3. Point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type mmc.exe to name the value, and then press ENTER. Leave the value at 0.
  5. Exit Registry Editor.

Controlling Windows XP Performance Settings/Visual Effects through Group Policy

Another thing I’ve been working on lately is creating a group policy that controls the performance settings and visual effects of Windows XP.   I have most of the registry settings identified that I needed to tweak and I’m controlling the settings through Group Policy using Policymaker.  Finding Policymaker these days is difficult from what I’ve seen.  Policymaker allows you to control virtually any registry setting through Group Policy without having to create a custom adm template, which I hate doing.  One thing to note is that these settings are user based, not computer based.  Sadly.  I will say that I’ve had some interesting results controlling these settings through a GPO, but it does seem to work, most of the time 🙂

Here are the majority of settings:

;0 = Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer
;1 = Adjust for best appearance
;2 = Adjust for best performance
;3 = Custom

;Use visual styles on windows and buttons (0=off 1=on)
;Use common tasks in folders (0=off 1=on)
;Show translucent selection rectangle (0=off 1=on)
;Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop (0=off 1=on)
;Use a background image for each folder type (0=off 1=on)
;Slide taskbar buttons (0=off 1=on)
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]
;Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing (0=off 1=on)
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop]
;Show window contents while dragging (0=off 1=on)
;Smooth edges of screen fonts (0=off 2=on)
;Smooth scroll list boxes
;Slide open combo boxes
;Fade or slide menus into view
;Show shadows under mouse pointer
;Fade or slide tooltips into view
;Fade out menu items after clicking
;Show shadows under menus
;(All off = 90,12,01,80   All on = 9e,3e,05,80)


“UserPreferencesMask” Is tricky because it’s a combination of all the settings, depending on what you pick, you will create a different hex.  I don’t have all the various hex’s identified and this is the one setting I’ve had the most trouble tweaking. 

Here is a screenshot of PolicyMaker controlling the settings in the GPO:


Policymaker allows you to set how you want to handle the registry keys, which is nice. (Create, Replace, Update, Delete)



Windows Media Player – Registry settings for first time configuration

One of the things I’ve always hated about media player is the validation and first time configuration that new users have to go through to launch it.  Here are the registry settings you need to set in order to “pre-configure” media player. Once you set these settings through a GPO, then media player will open upon the first launch.  This will work whether you have MP in your image or if you have an administrative install you are pushing down after the fact.