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We have a 2x Server 2003 DC's, and manage group policy using the administrative tools on a couple Windows 7 workstations. We've just started using the domain central store to ensure that we're all seeing the same settings. I'm just slightly confused about how the administrative templates work when dealing with multiple versions of a product.

Am I correct in assuming that if I copy the the newest (Server 2012/Windows 8) templates in to the central store, I will have available all of the settings for Server 2012/Windows 8 as well as any settings specific to preceding operating systems, such as Server 2008/7/Vista/XP? Or do I need to add the set of ADMX/ADML files for each OS, in which case there are name conflicts?

Also, how does this work for templates for other MSFT products, such as IE or Office? Do you need the set of templates for each version?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

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To answer your questions directly: if you copy the Windows 8 / Server 2012 files over top of the 7/2008 files, you'll get the functionality of all of the new options, plus whatever MS has left in them from past versions -- historically, MS has made the Windows group policy files cumulative, and the help for each setting elaborates on the behaviour between versions.

That is not the case with some other products, like MS Office. Office does have some overlap in settings between versions, but most settings are targeted to specific Office versions. That is to say, you should have different policy files for Word 2003 and Word 2010.

There isn't any strict rule for how this works - it depends on the product and how that specific policy is written.

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Updating the central store to the newer versions won't break any old settings in your GPOs. All they will do is change the GUI of your "Group Policy Management Console". This applies to the windows ones as well as any out of the box office ones etc.

Now with that said, there might be some setting in the latest admx files that only apply to the most recent software, etc. but that is usually outlined in it's help.

Office admx files do have some overlap for some settings, but generally speaking I would try to use the one that matches the version you have installed for the computer it is targeted for.

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