Table of Contents: Group Policy

Most Popular: Group Policy

Server 2012 – Set Internet Explorer Home/Start Page via Group Policy

If you want to set the user’s home page initially but then allow them to change it to whatever they want, on the Common tab in Group Policy Preferences, just make sure to check the box “Apply once and do not reapply” otherwise, any changes the user makes to their home page will be lost the next time they log in.
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Server 2012 – Add a 32 Bit Internet Explorer Shortcut Icon on the Desktop via Group Policy

On an 2012 RDS Server, when running a software restriction policy, your 64 bit browser won’t work unless you specifically create a rule to allow it. In addition to that, on an RDS Server, there’s not really any advantage to using the 64 bit version of IE because almost all plugins were only built with 32 bit support.

That being said, at first I had some trouble creating a desktop icon for the 32 bit version of IE using Group Policy Prefences. Strangely enough, if I set the path in my shortcut to %PROGRAMFILES(x86)% it still brought up the 64 bit version of IE somehow, WTF?! Basically to figure this out, I just copied the shortcut properties of the IE icon on the Classic Shell Start Menu.
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Foxit Reader 7.0 – Set as the Default PDF Viewer via Group Policy

When locking down your RDS Server, here are the registry keys needed to set Foxit Reader as the default PDF viewer per user via Group Policy Preferences to disable the annoying first run pop-up (technically, you can use just the last registry entry only and it will work but adding all of the keys is probably the safer approach):
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Polycom RealPresence Desktop – Windows QoS Registry Settings

Last week, I had to call Polycom support for two issues. One of which I mentioned in another post (Automatic Gain Control issue) and the other was because I wanted to find out why their user manual showed some QoS settings that my version did not have access to.

After waiting on hold for ten minutes, the first tech support person I reached was a little cocky, arrogant, smart ass of a prick who was less than helpful with either of my support requests. At one point, he literally told me “we can’t control Windows” (which brings up the question, “Well why in the fuck did Polycom even make software in the first place then?”) in regards to my AGC issue even after I told him that I had disabled all of the Windows settings that take control of the audio interface. He also said that you can set up QoS in Windows “somewhere in the network settings” (which turned out to be completely erroneous) without giving an ounce of help or direction.

Towards the end of our call, he was just trying to get me off the phone basically with an answer of “you’re fucked” to all my questions. At that point, I got pissed off and demanded to speak to somebody else. Finally, I got put on the phone with one of their product engineers and they actually addressed my issues. Long story short, the engineer ended up having to do a remote support session and did indeed acknowledge my AGC issue and gave me an explanation of why I couldn’t see the QoS settings mentioned in the manual. It turns out, those settings only show up if you use their provisioning server and they don’t even set the QoS settings in Windows like I needed.
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Server 2012 – Restrict Access to Specific Drives via Group Policy

If you’re familiar with Group Policy, there’s been an administrative template available since the Windows 2000 days to restrict access to the drives in File Explorer. The only problem with that template is that it only gives you the options to remove access to either all the drives or drives A, B, C, and D which is isn’t very flexible.

In search of a more granular option, I found this very helpful post here that explains exactly how to restrict access to specific drives using registry keys. Here I’m just going to copy the table and show you how to add a Group Policy Registry Preference to achieve the same thing.
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Server 2012 – Remove Network Icon from File Explorer Navigation Pane via Group Policy

After much research, some poking around in the registry, and a little dumb luck, I’ve discovered a way to disable the Network icon from the left side of the File Explorer navigation pane on a PER USER basis using Group Policy Registry Preferences.

Basically, I borrowed the concept from other posts and made it work for the current user profile. One problem that I ran into trying to use the HKLM key was that I couldn’t update the key using the SYSTEM account via Group Policy and I didn’t want to manually edit registry permissions on a bunch of RDS Servers. On top of that, more importantly, I didn’t want to disable the Network icon for my administrator accounts too! So here’s what you need to do… Continue reading “Server 2012 – Remove Network Icon from File Explorer Navigation Pane via Group Policy”

Classic Shell – Registry Entries for Custom Windows 7 Style Start Menu

When applying the Classic Shell Group Policy Templates in Windows 2012 RDS, there is an option called “Menu items for the Windows 7 Style”. In order to customize the menu items, you first need to make changes to some user profile that is using Classic Shell and then go and retrieve the entries from the HKCU\Software\IvoSoft\ClassicStartMenu\Settings\MenuItems7 key in the Registry to know what to enter there. Even on the Classic Shell forums, they didn’t have it documented so here goes…

First, you should have a list of entries titled “Items(1-23).Command=” followed by the friendly name of the item.


Following each one of those entires, you may or may not have an additional entry for each item titled “Items(1-23).Settings=” followed by one or more of the display options depending on how you want it displayed.


As of Classic Shell version 4.1, here is a list of the Command names and their descriptions:

admin - %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools
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Server 2012 – Remove Pinned Items on the Taskbar via Group Policy

I have researched for hours and hours and have looked into numerous different solutions on how to remove pinned items from the taskbar in Server 2012 and have not really found an elegant solution to the problem. Microsoft intentionally made it an extremely ridiculous and convoluted process to be able to add and remove pinned items from the taskbar. I guess it was meant to help prevent it from getting all fuckered up but for christ’s sake, I shouldn’t have to jump through effing hoops just to do such a seemingly rudimentary task.

Part of my particular issue lies in the fact that I’m setting up a completely locked down 2012 RDS environment where the users don’t even have access to the command prompt, powershell, or the ability to run VB scripts. This alone rules out almost every solution out there that I’ve found.

I have even gotten to the point of where I tried using Group Policy Preferences to create a HKCU RunOnce key to run a batch file to delete the necessary files, add the proper registry keys, kill the explorer.exe process, but then I can’t start explorer again without using cmd.exe and I don’t want the user to have to log off and back on again and we can just have a missing shortcut sitting in the freaking taskbar, it confuses people. WTF!!!
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