This post is the first of a series about the changes in Group Polices in Windows Vista. You might have heard already that some of the changes are quite fundamental. In this post, I am introducing a relatively unspectacular change: Group Policy event logging. If you've just started playing with Vista's Group Policies, this new feature can be quite helpful. Thus, it is a good point to start with.

In Windows XP, logging of Group Policies events is quite complicated. There are many different places where one can look for information, if problems occur. Often the log files contain many entries of other applications and it is not to easy to find what you are searching for. You can check out this Technet article for more information.

In Windows Vista, it's much easier. There are just two logs for Group Policies now. Both can be accessed by using the Event Viewer.

Those events, which can be found in the system log under XP, are now in the application log. The difference is that they have their own event source ID. You can find them easily if you search for "Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy" sources. In XP, there is the "userenv" source which also belongs to other types of messages.

The second, certainly more important log of Group Policy events in Vista (Pre-RC1) can be found under "Applications and Services logs/Microsoft/Windows/GroupPolicy". Now, you might ask, what is the difference between those two logs.

Basically, the system log mainly contains event messages of the successful or unsuccessful processing of Group Policies. The event log of the Group Policy Service, on the other hand, lists operational messages. Here you will find detailed information which GPOs (Group Policy Objects) were applied, which filters were used, etc. So, if you have problems with certain policies, you should go here first and see what went wrong. In Windows XP, similar information, although not quite detailed, can be found with uservenv logging.

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Group Policy event logging has been greatly improved in Windows Vista. Thanks to the easy-to-use Event Viewer and detailed information in the Group Policy Service event log, troubleshooting will be much easier here in comparison to Windows XP.

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