Enabling Windows 7 Device Stage via Group Policy
Device Stage is a nifty new feature built into the in ‘Devices and Printers’ control panel in Windows 7 that exposes common functions of devices attached to your machine, such as digital cameras and printers. Gizmodo have a nice detailed article about how useful it can be. Personally I like it just because it shows actual pictures of my hardware instead of just a generic icon (see left for an example).
I decided that the extra functionality and pretty icons was worth the minimal bandwidth cost on my network, so decided I’d like to turn it on for every workstation on the network. I needed to set it explicitly because it’s an opt-in feature out of the box, and it requires administrative privileges to enable it, which my users don’t have.
There’s a Group Policy setting to control this, which you can find at:
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Device Installation
Prevent device metadata retrieval from the Internet
Enabling this policy forces Device Stage to ‘off’, but if you disable the setting or don’t configure it, the default is back to ‘let the user opt-in’. There’s no way to force it to always be on, which seems pretty stupid from my point of view, but hey, I’m just a customer who wants to use the latest features. However, knowing that the setting would be stored in the registry, I looked up the registry key that GP setting modifies in the Group Policy Settings Reference spreadsheet, and went investigating.
The critical value is:
The GP setting either sets this value to 1, or deletes it. However, if you define it yourself and set it to 0, then this has the same effect as explicitly enabling it in the Control Panel.
Easiest way to roll this setting out? Group Policy Preferences, of course.