If you’re an admin, and part of your responsibility is to maintain GPOs, then, chances are, you landed on this article, because you’re trying to find the all well known User Configuration –> Windows Settings –> Internet Explorer Maintenance and you’re using Windows 7 or Windows 8.

If you’re in that boat, then don’t fret, because as of yesterday, I was in that same situation, which prompted me  to launch a research task, to figure out what to happened to all these features. So I’m going to tell you where to find all those seemingly missing GPOs for maintaining Internet Explorer.

Before going into GPO, just a quick note, that you always have the option to deploy Internet Explore configuration using IEAK. However, in this article, I will stick to GPOs.

In Windows 7 and newer, you probably know that the Admin Tools are now called the “Remote Server Administration Tools” or RSAT.  Installing those gives you a nice addition of features to the admin tools, particularly in the “Group Policy Management Console” or GPMC. One notable feature is the “Preferences” tree that now exists for both “Computer Configuration” and “User Configuration”.

Though the preference section deserves a whole 15 articles all on its own, I will refrain from going into detail about that, and stick with the IE settings. In particular: “Internet Options” and “Shortcuts”

View Gallery:

The reason I mentioned the shortcuts section, is because you will notice that the internet options section does not include a place to specify important URLs. (i.e: Favorites). In my research, I actually found out that even though this option did conveniently exist in the Internet Explorer Maintenance section, and is usually fairly easy to configure, it is often cause to some problems in GPO processing, and corruption. So, in a way I’m glad that we now have a new way to do this without having to employ a method known to potentially cause problems.

In the Shortcuts section, you will notice that there is one for Users, and one for Computers. the function of those is like any other GPO, Computer will apply on a computer level, and will have to be scoped as such, and the User section, will have to target Users.

In the screenshot, you will see that it’s quite simple to create a new URL entry, and place it in the Favorites of Internet Explorer. Of course, the other settings will be in Internet Options.

You can create a shortcut, and select the dropdown to target the location of the shortcut. There is a preset location for the Explorer Favorites, and another for All Users Explorer Favorites.

These will have to target certain versions of Internet Explorer at a time , 5/6, 7, 8/9/, 10, as they contain different settings for the different versions

Trusted Zones Sites grayed out

The Trusted Sites button is grayed out in the Preferences Internet Options. The option will have to be specified the a different section of the GPO.

One of the issues you will find, is that even though the internet options section seems to have all the possible features, you will also notice that when you go to the “Security” tab, to add some sites to add zoning, the “Sites” button will be grayed out.

Sites to Zones Assignment

The window where site zone assignments are made in the new GPO model.

This will bring us to yet another section to complete the configuration of IE, and that is: Administrative Templates –>  Windows Components –> Internet Explorer –> Internet Options –> Security Pages. Under that page, you will see an options: “Sites to Zone Assignment”. By enabling that option, and specifying the sites and their zones, you would be performing the equivalent of adding your sites to the trusted zones in Internet Explorer, or doing the same in the more convoluted way using the deprecated “Internet Explorer Maintenance”.

Assigning Sites to Zones

Assigning sites to zones. You can read the explanation of the policy to find out which number corresponds to which zone.

Of course, there are tons of additional options in that same section, you can feel free to experiment with those on your own.

One last detail to add. When setting up group policies via GPO for internet explorer, you might want to turn on the option “Internet Settings Policy Processing”, and check the “Process even if the group policies have not changed.” This will ensure a “Self-healing” mechanism, and all the settings are always check to be compliant with the GPO settings.

Internet Settings Policy Processing

This setting will ensure that the policy always gets applied, thereby self-healing any changes the user may have made during their session.

So, there you have it, with the 3 new sections related to Internet Explorer, now you have more control than you ever had in the past, though you’d have to that in a few different places, which I find to be a bit inconvenient, and this part is probably the single item that I’ll miss about the Internet Explorer Maintenance. At least you now know that all the options that you were missing are still there, just in different places.


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