Policy Plus is a free open source program for Microsoft Windows that introduces Group Policy access on all editions of the Windows operating system.
Microsoft limits access to the Group Policy to professional and Enterprise editions of Windows. This means that Home edition users, for instance those running Windows 10 Home or Windows 7 Home Premium, cannot use the Group Policy for administrative tasks.
While it is possible usually to make changes to the Windows Registry which have the same effect, using the Group Policy is usually the better choice as you don’t have to research keys and values first to manipulate settings in the Registry.
Policy Plus is a free portable program for all versions of Windows to configure policies directly. This is mostly useful on systems that ship without Group Policy Editor, but may have its uses on systems with the regular Group Policy Editor as well.
The developer of the program notes that some administrative templates are present on Home editions of Windows by default, but that many are missing. Home edition administrators should download the latest policy files using the Help > Acquire ADMX Files option of the program. This downloads the latest file natively and adds the policies to it.
Policy Plus can edit the local Group Policy Object and make changes to the Registry. Another limitation for Home edition use is that a restart, or logoff/on is required before these changes take affect.
Lastly, the use of per-user GPOs is supported but ignored by Home editions of Windows. The developer suggests to make the necessary changes using the Registry instead.
The list of available policies is displayed when you start the program. If you have worked with the Group Policy Editor before, you will notice the resemblance right away. You can navigate the policies using the category listing of the sidebar, or use search to find specific policies.
Policy Plus supports three different search options: by ID, by Registry, by text.
- ID — Search by unique ID.
- Registry — Search by key path or name, or value name.
- Text — Find in titles, descriptions, and in comments.
Policies are configured similarly to how this is done in the Group Policy Editor. You double-click on a policy to display its configuration window.
It lists a description, on which systems the policy is supported on, and the configuration options. From there it is just a matter of changing the configuration and clicking on apply to apply the changes.
Policy Plus supports several other nice to have features such as lists of technical information about objects, and options to export and import policy settings.
Policy Plus is an excellent program for Windows Home edition users who want access to the Group Policy, or more precisely, to policies that are applied using the Windows Registry.
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