When managing Internet Explorer clients using the Group Policy Object 'Disable changing home page settings', the designated Home Page URL may not be read by Internet Explorer 6 and earlier clients.
Internet Explorer 7 and later clients function as expected when this policy is applied.
The policy was created on a machine that had a newer version of Internet Explorer installed. The installation of the newer version of Internet Explorer updated the administrative templates used by the policy editor. The policy template for the 'Disable changing home page settings' restriction defines an additional option to specify an alternate home page URL. This new location and value are not read by Internet Explorer 6 and earlier clients.
For all versions of Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher, this policy defines the DWORD Homepage entry which restricts access to the home page user interfaces. This entry is found in the following registry location:
When enforced, the options to set or modify the user home page are dimmed and restricted from use. However, the user home page URL continues to be read based on the REG_SZ Start Page item located in the following registry location:
Beginning with Internet Explorer 7, the policy now directs the client to also utilize the administrator-defined REG_SZ Start Page value which is created under the current user policies registry location:
Optimally, it is recommended to leverage separate home page group policies, one for each major version of Internet Explorer in the environment. Use WMI filtering to apply the policy based on the version of Internet Explorer present.
Note: Each policy should be created and managed from a workstation that has the appropriate version of Internet Explorer installed.
For more information on implementing WMI Filters, review the following TechNet article:
However, as a workaround, it is possible to achieve the desired results through the combined use of multiple home page policies.
The first recommendation is to enable the 'Disable changing home page settings' policy to block the user interface for Internet Explorer 6 and later clients. The URL specified by this policy will enforce a Start Page value for Internet Explorer 7 and later versions.
To define an enforced Start Page value for Internet Explorer 6 users, create either an Internet Explorer Maintenance ("IEM") 'Important URLs' policy or Group Policy Preference ("GPP") registry policy to set the desired value in the userlocation.
Note: It is recommended that this supplemental policy contain only the home page setting, which should be set to the same value used in the 'Disable changing home page settings' policy.
When combined with the new home page policy behavior, Internet Explorer 6 users will receive a restricted interface from the new policy behavior and a Start Page value from the additional Internet Explorer Maintenance or Group Policy Preference policy.
Internet Explorer 7 and later clients will receive a restricted interface and Start Page value from the 'Disable changing home page settings' policy object as well as an updated Start Page value under the user default location.
The explanation text which accompanies this particular policy object indicates that the policy has a functional requirement of 'At least Internet Explorer 5.0'. However, prior to Windows Internet Explorer 8, this policy text does not indicate that the Home Page URL setting will not apply to clients running a version earlier than Internet Explorer 7.
The explanation content from each of the major Internet Explorer versions is provided below:
Internet Explorer 6.0 template:
Requirements: at least Internet Explorer v5.0
Description: Prevents users from changing the home page of the browser. The home page is the first page that appears when users start the browser.
If you enable this policy, the settings in the Home Page area on the General tab in the Internet Options dialog bix appear dimmed.
If you disable this policy or do not configure it, users can change their home page.
Internet Explorer 7.0 template:
Requirements: at least Internet Explorer v5.0
The Home page in the Internet Options Settings is the default web page that internet explorer loads whenever it is run.
If you enable this policy setting, a user cannot set a custom default home page. You must specify which default home page should load on the user machine.
If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, the Home Page textbox is enabled and users can choose their own home page.
Internet Explorer 8.0 template:
Requirements: At least Internet Explorer 5.0
The Home page specified on the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box is the default Web page that Internet Explorer loads whenever it is run.
If you enable this policy setting, a user cannot set a custom default home page. You must specify which default home page should load on the user machine. For machines with Internet Explorer 7 or higher, the home page can be set within this policy to override other home page policies
If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, the Home page box is enabled and users can choose their own home page.