Group Policy – Fundamentals, Security, and the Managed Desktop by Jeremy Moskowitz is a deep-dive book specifically on the topic of Windows Group Policy. The second edition of this book covers from Windows XP to Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012. This expands from the first edition which stopped at Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.
While reading the book was mostly review for me, I appreciated seeing another source confirm my self-taught experience with Group Policy. The book does an excellent job of explaining the goals and capabilities of a well managed Active Directory structure and leveraging built-in Group Policy for central management. Elevating an organization to the next level, Group Policies should not be feared to be implemented but well understood and taken advantage of.
Group Policy covers many points of Group Policy and provides excellent technical explanations of those points, including:
- proper terminology
- Active Directory and Local Group Policy
- Computer and User configurations for policies and Group Policy Preferences
- Group Policy Management Console
- Linking Group Policy Objects
- Understanding and troubleshooting clients utilizing Group Policy
- Understanding application and precedence at the OU level, site level, and domain level
- Delegating Group Policy access
- Block inheritance versus linked GPOs and Enforced GPOs
- Security Filtering, WMI Filters, and delegation
- Starter GPOs
- Loopback Processing
- Using a Central Store
In addition to those topics covered in detail in the book, there are numerous examples provided and sections focused on specific assets of Group Policy such as Software Restriction Policies, fine-grained password policies, mandatory profiles, redirected folders, application deployment, scripts, and others. The second edition also covers a section of specific uses for Group Policy when it comes to VDI or Windows InTune.
Overall, I enjoyed the book as an authoritative source on Group Policy. The technical explanations of capabilities, precedence, and troubleshooting makes me want to buy a copy for many people that I wish had a greater understanding of Group Policy.
A detraction from the book does come from its source. I feel Group Policy loses a little bit of its credibility when it gets onto the topic of PolicyPak, the author’s third-party add-on for Group Policy to manage other applications. I felt when it switched into sales, I questioned the motivation of the author. Did I switch from reading a technical book to reading a sales brochure? Fortunately, the rest of the book is solid and neutral so I feel that I can still recommend it despite the dozen or so pages on PolicyPak.
You can pick up Group Policy – Fundamentals, Security, and the Managed Desktop by Jeremy Moskowitz from Amazon.com. It is still relevant and quite useful even though Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 are the current operating system levels, the foundation covered in this text is still very valid.