Windows 2000, XP, and .NET systems all support Active Desktop. This is the ability of your desktop to display live information from the Internet. Depending on your environment, this feature may be a benefit or a hindrance. Fortunately, Microsoft included a means by which to control this feature through the group policy object of Active Directory.
The controls are found in the User Configuration section of a GPO. They are located in the Administrative Templates, Desktop, Active Desktop folder.
The Enable Active Desktop control enables Active Desktop and prevents users from disabling it. If this control is not defined, Active Directory is disabled by default but users can enable it.
The Disable Active Desktop control is used to disable Active Desktop and prevent users from enabling it. If this control is not defined, Active Directory is disabled by default but users can enable it.
The Disable all items control removes all Active Desktop items and prevents users from defining new ones.
The Prohibit changes control prevents users from altering Active Desktop settings. This includes enabling or disabling as well as adding, removing, closing, or editing content items. This control is often used when a pre-defined organization wide Active Directory configuration is defined for all users so end users are unable to alter the configuration, content, or layout.
The Prohibit adding items control stops
The Prohibit deleting items control stops users from deleting content items from Active Desktop.
The Prohibit editing items control prevents users from altering the configuration of content items from Active Desktop.
The Prohibit closing items control prevents users from closing or exiting content items from Active Desktop.
The Add/Delete items control defines content items that are automatically added or removed from Active Directory each time the setting is refreshed. This control does not prevent users from deleting automatically added items or re-adding automatically deleted items, but their changes will be reversed the next time the GPO is refreshed.
The Active Desktop Wallpaper control defines the background wallpaper displayed on all users' desktops. When defined, this control prevents users from changing the wallpaper.
The Allow only bitmapped wallpaper control restricts background wallpaper images to .BMP files.
James Michael Stewart is a partner of ITinfo Pros, Inc., a technology-focused writing and training organization.
This was first published in December 2002