Examining Office 2010 Group Policy

Examining Office 2010 Group Policy
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Office 2010 Group Policy

Office 2010 Group Policy is a way for network or office administrators to preload settings in Office for a specified group of users. Group Policy causes Office 2010 to execute scripts on startup and applies the settings that are contained within the script. Administrators can use Group Policies to customize Office 2010 for specific job roles, to make Office programs easier to use for beginning users, or to make commonly-used templates available as defaults for Office programs. Once installed, Office 2010 Group Policies can be changed as needed by the administrator to adjust Office settings on the users’ computers automatically.

Picture Credit: Screenshot by J. Edward Casteele

What Is Group Policy?

Office 2010 Group Policy is made up of three main parts: the Group Policy engine which runs on a server or other central location, a server-side extension that defines the policy settings for the client computers, and a client-side extension that receives the settings and applies them. The scripts for the Group Policy are written in scripting languages supported by the Windows Script Host such as Jscript and VBScript. Office 2010 Group Policy administrators can create templates for use with the policy scripts, designing the templates to make better use of the scripted features than Office 2010 defaults so that different users within the group can have the same defaults regardless of personalized settings on the individual computers.

How Group Policy Works

The administrator who sets up an Office 2010 Group Policy scripts the policies that they wish to distribute to user computers and loads it into the Group Policy engine located on the server or central computer of their network. Once loaded into the Group Policy engine, the scripts are interpreted by the server-side extension for distribution to the network. Each computer receives the script via the client-side extenstion that is installed on it; the extension applies the scripts to Office 2010 so that it will run automatically once the Office program it is designed for is launched. The changes or settings specified by the script go into effect as the program loads. If the program is running when a new script is received by the client-side extension, the new script will not go into effect until the program has been closed and opened again.

Examples of Group Policies

Administrators can use a number of different types of Office 2010 Group Policy scripts to customize the Office experience for their users. One commonly-used Group Policy script turns off a feature known as Office 2010 Fast Logon Optimization; this feature that can cause sychronization errors and turning it off allows networked users to synchronize their activities more easily. Another common Office 2010 Group Policy script adjusts the default time-out for links so that links can be opened even if it takes longer to connect to the servers they point to. Administrators also use Group Policy scripts to adjust the frequency that the extensions check for new scripts, increasing or decreasing the default frequency depending on how often they plan to update scripts and templates.