Windows 8 will bring a lot of new features to the client experience, specifically the new capability of a Windows Live ID account to allow the personal settings and experience of users to be replicated across Windows 8 systems. What piques my interest, however, is the management aspect of this new feature.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 8 are at the center of a very critical pass in the relevance of the operating system. This is due to the influx of cloud applications and competition from other platforms. So, I’ve taken a look at some of the management aspects surrounding this feature in Windows Server 8. Specifically, I’m looking at Group Policy. I’ve long believed that Group Policy is one of the best products that Microsoft has ever made, and I am hoping that it will stay relevant in this new era of BYOD and cloud applications.

With Windows Server 8, there are a number of new Group Policy Objects (GPOs). They are easy to spot in the Group Policy Management Console, as they indicate that the Developer Preview (or higher) is required to use these features. Figure A below shows one such setting:

Figure A

Click to enlarge.

With this new functionality, Group Policy has seven settings for the Setting Sync feature to be centrally managed by administrators. These settings control which features of the synchronization experience are available on the domain computer. While I’m looking only at the developer preview, these are a good starting point, but I feel I would want a few more settings on this option. On the other hand, this is just what client experience is really all about — being able to manage it from the end user perspective and take it with you. So, domain level granularity could really just be an on or off option.

The Group Policy settings for the Setting Sync options are located in Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Settings Sync and are shown in Figure B below:

Figure B

Click to enlarge.

Does the capability of having the user experience move with users from work to home computers (or possibly other work sites) appeal to you? At knee jerk reaction, I’m fine with it. It’s the data that we need to govern more closely, in my opinion. Share your comments on the experience replication feature below.

Also see:

ZDNet: How Microsoft’s Windows 8 will sync users’ settings and apps