I had a question recently that I thought was worth blogging. The question was, “if I create a GPO using Windows 7, Server 2008 or similar newer platform”, then backup that GPO using XP or Server 2003, will it back up everything?”. The answer, not surprisingly, is “it depends”. GPMC Backup only backs up the “policy areas” that it knows about. For example, if I set some policy settings within Administrative Templates policy on Server 2008 and then backup that GPO using GPMC running on XP, those Admin. Template settings will be backed up just fine, because the Admin Templates policy area exists on both versions of Windows.
But lets say I create a GPO from GPMC using Windows 7, and set some GP Preferences settings or some of the new “Advanced Audit Configuration” options, then try to backup that GPO from XP or Server 2003’s GPMC. In that case, neither the GP Preferences nor the Audit settings will be backed up because those policy areas do not exist in XP or Server 2003 (from a GPMC perspective–its true that XP and Server 2003 can process GP Preferences settings, but they cannot manage them).
The bottom line is, as always, if you introduce newer versions of Windows into an environment and plan to leverage newer policy areas, its always best to manage GP from those newer versions of GPMC, since GPMC is backwards-compatible but not forwards-compatible!