Group Policy templates in Windows Vista: ADMX files replace ADM files

This is the second post in a series about Group Policy changes in Windows Vista. The first one was about Group Policies and event logs. Today, I am going to write about ADMX files, the replacement for ADM files.

Like ADM files, ADMX files are Administrative Templates for Group Policy settings. You can load these templates with the Group Policy Object editor. Windows Vista comes with about 2,400 of these settings, 800 more than in Windows XP/2003.

The new settings are mostly for new Vista features. These are the main areas where Vista comes with new Group Policy settings: power management, device installation controls, security settings (IPSec and firewall), and printer assignment.

The main difference between ADM and ADMX files is the latter's use of XML. XML is en vogue, so every human readable configuration file has to be in XML these days. Microsoft says this makes it easier for system administrators to create their own Group Policy templates, but I think, it is a matter taste. Maybe it will be easier now for vendors of third party Group Policy tools.

Since legacy Windows versions can't be used to manage ADMX files, you have to consider a couple of things when you work with Group Policy in the future:

  • You can only load ADMX files with a Group Policy Object editor running on Windows Vista.
  • Although Group Policy Objects (GPO) can be stored on the Win2K/Win2k3 domain controller, you can't edit them on a Windows Server 2003.
  • To edit Group Policies, you can use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) which is now included in Windows Vista. On the command line you can start the tool typing "gpmc".
  • If this Vista machine is a domain member, the GPOs will be automatically stored on the domain controller. This domain controller can be a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 system.
  • The Group Policy editor of Windows Vista also supports ADM files. This also means that you can use a Vista machine to manage Group Policy for legacy Windows versions.
  • ADM files that are superseded by ADMX files are ignored. This applies to the following ADM files: System.adm, Inetres.adm, Conf.adm, Wmplayer.adm, and Wuau.adm. So if you changed some of these files you have to repeat these changes on the corresponding ADMX files.
  • ADMX files are language neutral. This basically means that the descriptions of Group Policy settings are not part of the .admx files. They are stored in .adml files. Vista automatically loads the correct .adml files. This is a very useful feature for international companies. Administrators in different countries can work with the same templates, but always get the descriptions of the Group Policy settings in their own language.
  • ADMX files are like ADM files only templates. The Group Policy settings are still populated to the clients thru registry.pol files. That's the reason why ADMX files and ADM files can coexist.

In the next post of this series I will write about another new interesting feature of Group Policy in Windows Vista which is directly related to ADMX files, the central store. So stay tuned!

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2 Comments
  1. Phil 13 years ago

    Great website but you need a button that presents a printable version of the article.

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