How to Use WMI Filtering to Improve Group Policy Administration

Group policy is one of the most versatile and powerful ways to manage your workstations in your domain. However, using just basic Group Policy to object relationship links you can limit the customization that is possible with group policy. Today I will show you how to add WMI (Windows Management Interface) Filtering to your group policy. This will allow you to build a kind of rule, and allow you to pick and choose which workstations get the policy and which don’t. My goal today is to apply my group policy to only workstations that start with the name of shs-exam. This is basically all the workstations that reside in our exam rooms and I would like them to have a special set of settings, however I want them to co-exist in my Active Directory structure in the proper ‘departmental’ organizational units that I already have.


  1. Open your Group Policy Management Console and browse to WMI Filters in your Domain.
  2. Go ahead and Right Click on WMI Filters and select New
  3. Give the WMI Filter a nice descriptive name and give more detailed text in the Description if needed.
  4. To build your actual query for WMI you need to think of this as a question to ask the PC and if it returns any result then the Group Policy will be applied to it. The query I have built asks it to return name for the computer and if the name contains “SHS-EXAM” then it will return the name and get the group policy applied, if not then nothing happens and the group policy is skipped.
  5. group-policy-scope-wmi-filtering

  6. Add your WMI Query, mine is Select name from Win32_ComputerSystem WHERE NOT name LIKE “%SHS-EXAM%” This will basically select all computers that are not named “SHS-EXAM”
  7. Now press Save
  8. Now that we have successfully made the WMI Filter we need to apply it to the proper group policy, so go to your Group Policy Objects under your domain and select the one you wish to add the filter to.
  9. The last section on the screen should be WMI Filtering, just drop down the list and select the WMI Filter you just made

Reference Material

  • WQL (SQL for WMI) (Windows) – This is a great list of advanced operators and examples to get you close the the proper syntax
  • HOWTO: Leverage Group Policies with WMI Filters – This article explains in detail how to create a WMI filter to determine the scope of a Group Policy based on computer attributes.
  • Paessler WMI Tester – This tool can help you test your WMI queries before deploying them in Group Policy use. I use this tool all the time to help find information about a workstation.
  • Microsoft Win32 Classes Reference – This is a Microsoft’s reference for all of the objects and events for WMI. You can use this to find that specific settings you need to filter on.

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How to Setup a Legal Notice Before Login in Group Policy

A few days ago I was tasked with setting up a notice to users before the actually log on to the computer to notify them that if they use this computer they agree to blah.. blah.. blah legal stuff. To solve this, I decided that this would be good to see on every computer we have in the organization so I added it to the Default Domain Policy, but this can be applied to users or computers at any level you see fit. This is a very easy setting that may also substitute for signing the computer usage agreements every year.


  1. Open up your Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc)
  2. Go to the Group Policy Object in your domain, right click on Default Domain Policy and select Edit…
  3. Once the Group Policy Editor is up, using the treeview on on the left go to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options
  4. To edit the title of the windows change: Interactive logon:Message title for users attempting to log on
  5. To edit the message text change: Interactive Logon:Message text for users attempting to log on

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How to Deploy Microsoft Office 2007 using Group Policy

Every few years you get the opportunity to update to that new fresh version of Microsoft Office, but you defiantly do not want to go computer to computer uninstalling the old and installing the new version. In the past you have just been able to create an MST and deploy it in group policy, this is not the case anymore. Microsoft is trying to push the System Management Server for most the large corporate environments, however I work at a place where spending money is not so much a popular topic, it is better to solve the problem withe the stuff you already have. Since you can’t make a MST to push out Microsoft Office 2007 customized you get a fancy XML file to play with to customized your installation so you can include things like Product Key, Organization, Display Levels of Installer, Accept the EULA, and which parts of Microsoft Office to install. This XML file is very unfriendly because it is very hard to determine the proper syntax or options since the Microsoft documentation is well… lacking to say the least. Other important things to note, this can only be deployed to as part of a Group Policy for a Computer. It will remind you of this if you try to add the MSI to the Users Group Policy. Microsoft also recommends that you don’t deploy this in large networks because of effects on the bandwidth required to install over the network cannot be managed like they can with System Management Server.

Network Share Setup

  1. Copy your entire Microsoft Office 2007 disk out to a network share that is readable by any user in your domain.
  2. Browse to the Enterprise.WW folder or Pro.WW folder in your deployment network share.
  3. Now Find or Create the config.xml file, scroll down and you can see a sample of mine at the bottom of this post. This is the key file that you will be modifying to customize your deployment of Microsoft Office 2007

Customizing the Microsoft Office 2007 deployment using config.xml
This is where all the magic happens if that is what you want to call it. There is several lines in this file I will try to hit the most important ones that you will need to use. At the bottom of the post you will be able to find the copy my config.xml file that I used for my deployment.

  • <Display Level="full" CompletionNotice="yes" SuppressModal="no" AcceptEula="yes" /> – These options have to do with how setup is displayed to the user.
    Display Level can be set to None, Basic or Full by default it is Full. Full: shows the entire setup to the user and allow them to modify options along the way. Basic: shows a welcome screen, Product Key if not included in config.xml file, EULA if not accepted, progress bar and Completion if allowed.
    CompletionNotice can bet set to Yes or No and is No by default and it will give a final screen showing that it had finished or not.
    SuppressModal can be Yes or No and is No by default and will suppress errors if set to Yes.
    AcceptEula can be set to Yes or No and is No by default, this makes the user accept the license agreement have to accept the EULA if set to No. I would strongly suggest setting this to Yes to save your users the trouble.
  • <PIDKEY Value="xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" /> – This is where you insert your product key.
    If you DisplayLevel is set to Basic or None and you enter a product key it will automatically accept the EULA for the installation reguardless of what AcceptEula is set to.
  • <COMPANYNAME Value="My Cool Company" /> – Allows you to modify the organization field for the software registration
  • <OptionState Id="ACCESSFiles" State="Local" Children="force" /> – These lines help determine which parts of Microsoft Office 2007 will be installed. The ID element varies depending on what version of Office you are installing. The State option allows you to determine if you want to install this portion of Office or not. It can be set to Absent, which will not install it, Advertise, which will install on first use, Local, which will install it item, or default which will do the Microsoft default action for the element. The option Children is specific to the ID and if set to force will install all sub items, I prefer this that way you don’t ever have to worry about dependence or special features some user might want to use.
  • <Setting Id="RemovePrevious" Value="ACCESSFiles,EXCELFiles,OUTLOOKFiles,PPTFiles,PubPrimary,WORDFiles" /> – This is an important line if you are wanting it to replace or uninstall the current version of Microsoft Office that is installed like Office 2003 or XP during the installation of Microsoft Office 2007.

Adding the MSI to Group Policy
This next step is very simple as you need to go to the Group Policy that will be in charge of installing Office 2007. Now open up your Group Policy Managment Console and select the GP you plan to use to deploy office, then right click and select edit. Now use the Tree on the Left to browse to Computer Configuration > Software Settings > Software Installation and right click on Software Installation and select New > Package… It will now prompt you with an open dialog box, go and select the MSI in the Office deployment directory for Enterprise it is called EnterpriseWW.msi. That’s it! Now just be sure to apply that Group Policy to the correct workstations and you will be good to go. The workstations should get the new version of Office 2007 next time it is restarted. You may want to test deploy it to a few machines to make sure everything goes smoothly.






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How to Deploy VNC using Group Policy

Do you spend too much time running from desk to desk just to help someone make a shortcut or change the default printer? This could be the solution for you. Using UltraVNC you can remotely view and control their workstation from your desk. This can save you time from running around everywhere, and make your users happier faster by solving their problems on the spot. You can also make your boss happy be making it authenticate with Active Directory. That will ensure that everyone that has the remote support access uses their own username and password, and it is easily managed with Active Directory Groups. VNC works very simply by installing a server on every workstation which allows it to share out the desktop to other clients / viewer programs. By installing the VNC Server on all your workstations it will allow you to connect using the client / viewer application and provide hands on support directly from your workstation.


Making the MSI using VNCed
Now that you have the required software, the first thing we need to do is uncompress the VNCed UltraVNC MSI Creator to a folder on your desktop. Once completed, run the run.bat and it should popup a GUI interface you can use to configure different parts of the UltraVNC Server.VNCed UltraVNC MSI Maker
Using this interface you can adjust and explore what options you have to choose from to customize your UltraVNC Deployment for your environment. The defaults here are a pretty good start and you can click on each item to get a description of what it will change. You may want to install this to a test computer a few times before rolling it out.
At this time you also need to configure if you will be using if you will be using Active Directory Authentication or just a plain password.

– To setup the plain password just fill out the password item and leave the newMSLogon unchecked.
– To setup Active Directory Authentication check the newMSLogon and you will need to make a file to select for aclImportFile. This file can either be generated based on the UltraVNC Instructions or you can use my file by creating a text file called: MSACL.ini and pasting allow 0x00000003 "..\Domain Admins in to it. That will allow anyone in the Domain Admins group to have full access to any machine setup using this MSI.

Once you have finished configuring the options for UltraVNC hit the Generate UltraVNC MSI button at the bottom. This will generate your UltraVNC.msi in the folder in which VNCed was extracted to. This file is what you will use to deploy UltraVNC to your workstations.

Using Group Policy to Deploy the MSI
First you will need to open either your Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc) and either modify your existing Workstation Group Policy or make a new one just for the deployment of this application depending on how you want to deploy it. By making a different GP to install, it can allow you deploy it just to a few machines, and only change the settings on those machines, where as the workstation method installs it to all workstations. This really up to the requirements of your environment. Either way you will need to look under Group Policy Object for your domain and create one or right click on one and edit it.Group Policy Software Installation
Now use the Tree on the Left to browse to Computer Configuration > Software Settings > Software Installation and right click on Software Installation and select New > Package… It will now prompt you with an open dialog box, go and select the MSI that we created earlier. If all goes well you should end up with something like the screenshot shows to the left. If all goes well now the only thing you have to do is link it to the OUs that you want it to effect if you created a new one , or you let your workstation group policy deploy to all the workstations the next time they restart.

Firewall ConfigurationGroup Policy Firewall Configuration for UltraVNC
If you run a firewall on your machine you will need to allow port 5900 open. If you only running the default Windows Firewall you can configure this using the same group policy that you deployed UltraVNC with. Just go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connections > Windows Firewall > Domain Profile then select Windows Firewall: Define port exceptions select Enabled then click the Show… button and click Add and fill out the items to specification.

For any other questions you have feel free to leave a comment I will be happy to assist you with the deployment.

For any other detailed information about UltraVNC you should check out their website at

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How to Remotely Manage Workstation in Your Network

You would be surprised at how often I solve a users issue without having to leave my desk. Users typically calls me about issues about how they need an icon, need a printer job canceled, or can’t find the file they are looking for. Here are some helpful methods that you can use your environment to fix problems without leaving your desk.

Using Hidden Drive SharesHidden Remote Administration Share
This is the one of the easiest to use and the most flexible to help you manage files on remote workstations. By default Microsoft Windows shares hard disk drives as a hidden share that only administrators can access. When you are setting up your domain you basically centralize the user authentication so now you have an administrator account on all the computers in your domain. This does require that file and print sharing is turned on in the Windows Firewall but for most environments this is most likely already on. To enable it from command line just type netsh firewall set service type = fileandprint mode = enable in command line window or run box. To configure it using Group Policy follow the these instructions

  1. Open the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in to edit the Group Policy object (GPO) that is used to manage Windows Firewall settings in your organization.

  2. Open Computer Configuration, open Administrative Templates, open Network, open Network Connections, open Windows Firewall, and then open either Domain Profile or Standard Profile, depending on which profile you want to configure.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Windows Firewall: Allow file and printer sharing exception.

  4. In the Windows Firewall: Allow file and printer sharing exception dialog box, on the Settings tab, click Enabled or Disabled.

To access these shares you need to go to the UNC path of the computer followed by the drive letter and a dollar sign. Ex: \\computername\C$ and bam there is the entire drive of that computer. Now you can browse in the Documents and Settings and the user and add the icon on the desktop all from your computer. This should work for any Microsoft Windows since 2000 including server operating systems.

Remote Microsoft Management ConsoleRemote Computer Managment Console
If you are not familiar with Microsoft Management Console or MMC then you need to be. It is a unified management console that allows you to adjust not only settings on your computer but remote ones as well. To use this command remotely you need to enable “Remote Administration” in the Windows Firewall this can be done by running the following command: netsh firewall set service type = remoteadmin mode = enable or you can enable it using group policy by following these Microsoft steps: Microsoft Article

  1. Open the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in to edit the Group Policy object (GPO) that is used to manage Windows Firewall settings in your organization.

  2. Open Computer Configuration, open Administrative Templates, open Network, open Network Connections, open Windows Firewall, and then open either Domain Profile or Standard Profile, depending on which profile you want to configure.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Windows Firewall: Allow remote administration exception.

  4. In the Windows Firewall: Allow remote administration exception properties dialog box, on the Settings tab, click Enabled or Disabled.

Once you have the exception in place you can run different commands remotely either by accessing a menu with the console or starting it from command line to open a computer. To start the Computer Management Console from command line just type compmgmt.msc /computer:computername in your run box or at the command line and it should automatically open the Computer Management console to that remote computer. Now you can go though the different parts of the machines from your desktop without interrupting the user. You should be able to do most things that you could if you were running this locally on the PC except for the Device Manager which is in read-only mode.

Remote Registry EditingRemote Registry Editing
Another less know feature of the registry editor is the ability to open a remote computers registry and make changes. To open the registry editor type regedit in your run box or command line, once it has open go to the File Menu and select Connect Network Registry… then just type in the name of the computer in the box and it should just open as another computer in the tree view. There are a few things to be aware of when editing another computers registry, you cannot undo your changes, so be sure you know what you are doing or the next call might be about the computer you just hosed by changing something you shouldn’t have. Also, the current user hive is sort of hard to find. It is under HKEY_USERS then it is probably something like S-1-5-XX-XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXX-XXXX, if you have multiple entries like this you will need to check the Volatile Environment key named SESSIONNAME, it is set to Console then that is the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive. The local machine class is in the same place in both the remote registry and the local one.

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