Windows 11 ADMX Templates Are Not Backward Compatible
Microsoft this week explained what hoops IT pros must jump through if they plan to use Group Policy with administrative template (ADMX) files to set policies for both Windows 10 and Windows 11 clients.
In essence, ADMX templates, which once were backward compatible between Windows operating system versions, are getting a split with the new direction set by Windows 11. Currently, Windows 10 has some ADMX policy settings that are only available for that OS, while Windows 11 has ADMX policy settings that are only available for it.
Microsoft's announcement included tables showing current policy differences between the two OSes.
An Active Directory Central Store is used as a central location on Windows systems for ADMX files, but it can't hold both the Windows 10 and Windows 11 ADMX files. IT pros have to choose which ADMX files to house in the Central Store.
Here's how that dilemma was explained by Helmut Wagensonner, a Microsoft customer engineer:
So what to do if you have a mixed environment of both client operating systems? Well, fact is that you can only copy one set of ADMX files to your Active Directory's Central Store. Depending on what your future plans are, you should decide which templates fit best. If you plan to stay on Windows 10 for a while, you should choose the Windows 10 ADMX files. If you're ready to upgrade to Windows 11 and this will become your dominating OS version (or it already is), you should copy the Windows 11 ADMX files to your Central Store.
IT pros need to carry out a Registry modification ("EnableLocalStoreOverride") and other steps, as explained in the announcement, which will allow them to set Windows 10 policies from a separate client if the Central Store houses Windows 11 ADMX files. These modifications will cause ADMX templates to be accessed from this separate client device's local store, rather than from the Central Store, which then permits the management of Windows 10 policies.
Comments on the announcement by readers suggested disappointment with Microsoft's new approach. One reader was "baffled" by the policy management split. Another commenter said that it'll "be a pain to manage both worlds (Win10 & 11)" when transitioning between the two OSes.
The ADMX split between Windows 10 and Windows 11 was recognized back in December in this 4sysops article. Author Wolfgang Sommergut noted that Windows 10 21H2 was still in preview back in October when Windows 11 was launched, so it wasn't wholly clear that there would be policy differences between the ADMX templates. The new approach, though, will make it "difficult to manage mixed environments," Sommergut suggested.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.