William Stanek: Digging in to special preferences


William here again. Now that we’ve talked about what Group Policy preferences are and how you can use them, let’s dig deeper into ways you configure preferences. In addition to preferences you manage using C-R-U-D, there are preferences you manage using an interface similar to the actual Control Panel interface. Generally, these preferences have both CRUD actions that can be applied and editing states. For ease of reference, I call these special preferences, and they include preference items for


  • Start Menu settings

  • Regional and Language settings

  • Internet options

  • Folder options

  • Power options

You can identify special preference items immediately because settings are underlined using a solid green line or a red dashed line or have an icon depicting a green circle or a red circle. These elements indicate the editing state of a particular item. Green items are delivered and processed. Red items are not delivered or processed.

One thing to point out and if you’ve been working with Windows for a while, you won’t be surprised as you’ve probably come to expect that things aren’t always clear cut. And indeed, there are standard preference items that have extended interfaces. For example, when you create preference items for scheduled tasks to run in Windows Vista or later, you have the CRUD actions and an extended interface similar to the standard interface used by Windows Vista or later. However, these preference items won’t have green and red editing state indicators. The green and red indicators tell you that you are working with a special preference item.

The best way to show you how special preferences are used is just to start right in and go. When you are configuring preferences for the Start Menu, you specify whether you want to create a preference item for computers running Windows XP or computers running Windows Vista and later. You can then define general settings, including icon size for programs and then number of programs to list on the Start Menu as well as configuration options for the Classic Start Menu, the simple Start Menu or both.

Preference items for folder options and power options are also divided into separate items for computers running Windows XP or computers running Windows Vista and later. For Windows XP, you can configure Power options and Power schemes. For Windows Vista and later, you can configure Power plans.

With Internet options, you can configure settings based on the browser version. There are separate preference items for Internet Explorer 5 and 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8. You specify the desired settings using a dialog box similar to the Internet Options dialog box you see when the related browser version is installed.

As mentioned previously, special preferences use the CRUD actions. You configure special preferences using editing states, which I’ll discuss in more detail next time. Also, I welcome your emails telling me what you want me to write about!

William R. Stanek

williamstanek at aol dot com

Twitter at williamstanek

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