Today, we surprisingly discovered that Microsoft has secretly changed the availability of some Group Policy options in Windows 10 version 1607. Windows 10 version 1607 "Anniversary Update" has reduced the control via Group Policy that you have in Pro edition. Pro edition users have lesser options available compared to version 1511, so many behaviors of the OS cannot be controlled.
If you open the Group Policy management console and read the description of certain policy settings in Windows 10 build 14393, you will find out that the options mentioned below are NO LONGER AVAILABLE for Windows 10 Pro users. They are locked down to Enterprise and Education editions only:
- The ability to disable the Lock screen
In Windows 10, the Lock Screen displays fancy backgrounds and some useful information like clock, date and notifications. It appears before you can pick a user account to sign in. When you lock your computer, again you see the Lock screen. After you dismiss the Lock screen, you get the logon screen where you authenticate. As the Lock screen is being gradually merged with the Logon screen, Microsoft has eliminated the option for Pro users to disable it. In Windows 10 version 1511, you could disable it with a simple Registry tweak. Now, if the user is running the Home or Pro editions of Windows 10, this option is not available.
- Do not show Windows tips
The same applies to the Group Policy "Do not show Windows tips" which could be used to disable help tips and introductory toast notifications in Windows 10. These can get very annoying for experienced users.
- Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences
Using this option, you could prevent Windows 10 from automatically downloading and installing promoted apps like Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipper, Twitter, NetFlix, Pandora, MSN News and many other potentially unwanted apps and games. Now you can't prevent these apps from being automatically downloaded and installed if you are using Windows 10 Pro or Home editions. The policy setting (or Registry setting) has no effect in these editions. Starting with Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you can only control unwanted apps in Enterprise and Educations editions of Windows 10. This behavior was confirmed when I upgraded my Windows 7 Professional to Windows 10 Pro and many unwanted apps installed automatically from the Store.
It's a shame that Microsoft decided to make Windows 10 Pro behave so unprofessionally. These changes make the Pro edition far less attractive for business users. Those who rely on Windows for professional use will have to tolerate random apps and games from the Store being installed on their work PC. By doing these changes, Microsoft is directly forcing these customers to get the higher priced Enterprise or Education editions which are only available through volume licensing. Volume licensing is not only expensive, complicated but requires you to purchase a minimum certain number of licenses.
Microsoft is provoking those who cannot afford volume licensing to pirate the Enterprise or Education editions of Windows 10. These editions now seem to be the only editions that still offer full control over installation of unwanted apps, besides telemetry and privacy intruding features. All the other editions of Windows 10 act like malware.
What do you think of these changes? Do they affect your opinion of Windows 10? Did you expect such feature changes across editions now that Windows is a service?
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