Windows Server 2012 Essentials Folder Redirection on Windows 8.1

As all good IT Pros have done, I’ve upgraded my home client computers from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. You have upgraded your machines to Windows 8.1 right?

As I frequently proclaim and preach on here, I run Windows Server 2012 Essentials on my home network, acting as my DNS Server, DHCP Server in addition to the out of the box features that you can get from Windows Server 2012 Essentials like roaming profiles, folder redirection, automated computer backups and network file sharing (all of which I use).

When I was building out a test environment this week to practice how I might migrate from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the benefit of a second server with 19TB of available storage to hand (how many homes do have 19TB of storage let alone a spare 19TB) I was experiencing an issue.

As part of my testing, I built a Windows 8.1 Pro virtual machine to simulate a desktop or laptop client computer. I built a Windows Server 2012 Essentials server as a second virtual machine on which I recreated my group policy settings and a mock up of my Storage Pool and Storage Spaces on my production server. After installing the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Connector on the Windows 8.1 client and logging in for the first time as a user configured to use roaming profile and folder redirection, I noticed that the roaming profile was working but the folder redirection was not.

I spent a while pouring through event logs on the client wondering why folder redirection wasn’t working, looking at GPMC (Group Policy Management Console) wondering if I’d done something silly like moved a link on a GPO preventing it from working until the penny dropped. Windows Server 2012 Essentials applies a WMI Filter named SBS Group Policy WMI Filter to the SBS Group Policy Folder Redirection GPO which is created when you implement Group Policy via the Server Dashboard.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials Original WMI Filter

This WMI Filter is setup as SELECT * FROM Win32_OperatingSystem WHERE (Version LIKE “6.1%” or Version LIKE “6.2%”) AND ProductType = “1”. For those who are now also dropping the penny or those who can’t make head nor tail of a WMI Filter, Windows 8.1 increments the operating system version number from 6.2 (Windows 8) to 6.3 (Windows 8.1), therefore the GPO isn’t applying to any of the Windows 8.1 machines on my network because this filter limits the scope of the Group Policy Object to explicitly Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems.

The solution to making this work is pretty simple in that we just need to update the WMI Filter so that it includes Windows 8.1 as we know that basic features like roaming profiles and folder redirection are going to work so I’m not worried about something breaking here.

I’ve decided to change my WMI Filter to include operating systems greater than or equal to Windows 7 rather than add another or statement to include Windows 8.1 For me, the WMI Filter now reads SELECT * FROM Win32_OperatingSystem WHERE (Version >= “6.1%”) AND ProductType = “1”.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials New WMI Filter

 

After making the changes and running a gpupdate command on a Windows 8.1 client computer, the group policy magically springs back into life and things start working. Firstly, I’m amazed that I haven’t noticed this being a problem on my home clients which I guess is a testament to my gigabit throughout home network pushing the files directly back to the server rather than caching them locally with Offline Folders first. Secondly, I’m surprised that this hasn’t been updated with a patch or update to Windows Server 2012 Essentials but perhaps this is a cattle prod for customers to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials?

richardjgreen

Richard works as a Cloud Consultant for Fordway Solution where his primary focus is to help customers understand, adopt and develop with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and System Center. Richard Green is an IT Pro with over 15 years' of experience in all things Microsoft including System Center and Office 365. He has previously worked as a System Center consultant and as an internal solutions architect across many verticals. Outside of work, he loves motorbikes and is part of the orange army, marshaling for NGRRC, British Superbikes and MotoGP. He is also an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.