I recently posted about how to take advantage of the new Group Policy features in Windows 7.  Because many organizations decided to skip Windows Vista, they may not be aware of a feature introduced in that time frame called Group Policy Preferences.

In contrast to Group Policy settings, Group Policy does not strictly enforce preferences. Group Policy does not store preferences in the Policy branches of the registry. Instead, it writes preferences to the same locations in the registry that the application or operating system feature uses to store the setting. The implication of this is twofold. First, Group Policy preferences support applications and operating system features that aren’t Group Policy-aware. Second, Group Policy preferences do not cause the application or operating system feature to disable the user interface for the settings they configure. The result is that after deploying preferences using Group Policy, users can still change those settings. Additionally, Group Policy refreshes preferences using the same interval as Group Policy settings by default. However, you can prevent Group Policy from refreshing individual preferences by choosing to apply them only once. This configures the preference one time and allows the user to change it permanently.