Learn how to use ADMX templates to deploy Windows 11 for users in your domain
Windows 11 is now rolling out. Eligible devices will start getting the option to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 free of charge through different channels. For individual users, upgrading to Windows 11 is an easy feat. But when it comes to deploying Windows 11 for your organization, things are different.
One of the available tools for deploying Windows 11 is the ADMX Templates. ADMX files are administrative templates used by admins in organizations to provide users with certain policies. They are a Group Policy feature that helps in the management of machines and users in an Active Directory environment. ADMX files are different from the ADML files that are language-specific; both are part of the administrative templates.
Before downloading the ADMX files, make sure you have the rights to run the Group Policy Management Editor (gpme.msc) or the Group Policy Object Editor (gpedit.msc).
Downloading ADMX Templates
You can download the ADMX templates for the Windows 11 October release from Microsoft’s download page. Click the ‘Download’ button to download the .msi file that contains the .admx files.
The ADMX files are supported on the following operating systems: Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2022, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2.
Run the .msi file from downloads. The Administrative Templates Installer window will open. Click the ‘Next’ option to continue.
Then, select how you want to install the Administrative Templates. If you don’t want to alter any options, simply click ‘Next’. There’s only one sub-feature in the package and it’s already selected so you don’t have to worry about that. But you can change the location where the feature will be installed. Although you should leave everything unchanged, as MSI already extracts them to the right location.
ADMX Templates will install. Click ‘Finish’ to complete the installation.
Copying Administrative Templates to the Central Store
Once the installation is complete, all you need to do is copy the ADMX files to the Central Store for the Active Directory. If you don’t have a Central Store, you need to create one in the sysvol folder of your domain controller to take advantage of the ADMX templates. Group Policy tools check the Central Store files by default and use all .admx files that are in the Central Store. All domain controllers in the domain then replicate the files in the Central Store.
If you don’t have a central store, i.e., you’re importing ADMX files for the first time, create a central store. Go to the following location and create a new folder with the name ‘PolicyDefinitions’
If a folder for Central Store already exists for a previously built Central Store, you can access it at this location.
In this case, either create a backup of the .admx files already in this folder before proceeding further or use a new folder describing the current version such as:
Once you’ve created the Central Store folder in the domain controller, you need to copy all the files in the PolicyDefinitions folder of the source computer (where you downloaded and extracted the ADMX Templates) to the new PolicyDefinitions folder you just created in the domain controller.
You can find the location of the PolicyDefinitions folder on the source computer at:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Group Policy\Windows 11 October 2021 Update (21H2)\PolicyDefinitions
When using the approach of creating a version-specific folder, you’d need to rename the current folder to the older version after copying the ADMX files. Then, rename the new folder to the standard PolicyDefinitions folder. Microsoft suggests this approach so you can go back to the old folder in case something goes wrong with the new files.
It’s the same philosophy as creating a backup of the folder. You can go with either approach. If nothing goes wrong with the new files, you can archive the older version of the PolicyDefinitions folder to a location outside of the sysvol folder.
That’s all you need to set up your ADMX templates for Windows 11. You can now access the new group policy using either Group Policy Editor (gpme.msc or gpedit.msc) and deploy Windows 11 for users in your domain.