Microsoft have made available the Group Policy Preferences Client Side Extensions for download and deployment. You’ll need Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista SP1 with the Remote Server Administration Tools (not yet available) to manage these. You do not need to upgrade to a Windows Server 2008 domain to use Group Policy Extensions which is fantastic.

If you’re not already using a competing product such as RES PowerFuse or AppSense Environment Manager, or you are a previous user of the DesktopStandard products then you should know what Group Policy Preferences is all about. It’s great to see this functionality come from Microsoft. Could this mean the end of the logon script? Hopefully it will at least see the end of custom ADM templates.

Multiple Group Policy Preferences have been added to the Windows Server 2008 Group Policy Management Console (which are also available through the Remote Server Administration Toolset (RSAT) for Windows Vista SP1). Group Policy Preferences enable information technology professionals to configure, deploy, and manage operating system and application settings they previously were not able to manage using Group Policy. After you install this update, your computer will be able to process the new Group Policy Preference extensions. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

For a detailed introduction to Group Policy Preferences and see what they can do for you, check out these articles on WindowSecurity.com: Group Policy related changes in Windows Server 2008 - Part 3: Introduction to Group Policy Preferences and Group Policy related changes in Windows Server 2008 - Part 4: Group Policy Preferences continued.