When I set the "force X off" policy to Disabled, why doesn't it force X on?

Raymond Chen

A customer was using one of the many “force X off” policies, but instead of using it to force X off, they were trying to use it to force X on by setting the policy to Disabled. For example, there is a “Hide and disable all items on the desktop”. The customer was setting this policy to Disabled, expecting it to force all icons visible on the desktop, removing the option on the desktop View menu to hide the icons. As we discussed some time ago, group policy is for modifying default behavior, and interpreting them requires you to have a degree in philosophy. In particular, a policy which forces X off has three states:

  • Enabled: X is forced off.
  • Disabled: X is not forced off.
  • Not configured: No opinion. Let another group policy object decide.

Disabling a policy means “Return to default behavior”, and the default behavior in many cases is that the user can decide whether they want X or not by selecting the appropriate option. In philosophical terms, “Not forced off” is not the same as “Forced on.”

If you want to force X on, then you have to look for a policy that says “Force X on.” (And if there isn’t one, then forcing X on is not something currently supported by group policy.)


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