Managing Google Chrome via Group Policy and creating a Chromebook style Windows Laptop

Over the last few days I’ve been working at turning an old laptop into a Chromebook style laptop. Obviously its not a 100% chrome OS but I feel I’ve managed to achieve the best of both worlds. So here is a brief description of what I’ve done.

First I installed a fresh copy of Windows 8.1 onto the laptop and connected it up to my Domain. I then put the laptop into a new org unit on my Domain for testing and created a new group policy object in the org unit. Before I can use the group policy with Chrome I had to install the Chrome group policy templates. These are available from the site below along with a list, description and examples of all the policies you can set.

https://www.chromium.org/administrators/policy-list-3

After I’d installed the policies I opened up the group policy and set up the computer configuration to install Chrome via MSI (available here) and then setup my computer policy. How you set the policy depends on how you want it to work but I included things like

  • start up pages
  • enforcing safe modes
  • preventing developer tools
  • setting Ephemeral profile (forces chrome to log out on browser close)
  • hiding the web store
  • preventing incognito mode
  • restrict chrome to only my google apps domain users
  • forcing extension installs (more help on gathering update url for this here)

I then created a new user and a group policy for the user where I set the user configuration to lock down the windows laptop including preventing access to control panel, locking taskbars etc.

Finally I setup the laptop to auto logon as the new domain user and told chrome to automatically start on logon.

Now I have a laptop which is locked down, loads up quickly, auto loads chrome, sets chrome restrictions and then when a user has finished using Chrome they are auto logged out upon browser close. This can also be further enhanced by using Google Apps and setting the Chrome User Settings for different org units within your Google Apps Domain. Then each user will receive their own apps upon logon to chrome and access to their own Drive, Email etc etc.

Although this is only a brief explanation I hope it gives you an idea and points you in the direction of turning old laptops into chromebook style machines in your environment.

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