Q. How has Network Location Awareness (NLA) changed Group Policy in Windows Vista?

A. Before Vista, the speed of a link was determined via Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP-- i.e., ping requests), which could cause problems if ICMP is disabled for security reasons, causing Group Policy application to fail. NLA allows the computer to better adapt and be aware of network state, such as whether a connection is available or whether a domain controller (DC) is unavailable and if so, when it becomes available again. This NLA resource detection and event notification will allow Group Policy application over VPN links. NLA will see the VPN connection and know Group Policy needs to be updated. This knowledge of the network also helps speed up boot time by attempting to apply Group Policy only if a connection to the corporate network is available.

The NLA service provider is not a Group Policy component, it is a Vista Name Resolution service provider that enables any Windows Socket 2 application to query and ascertain information about the logical network to which the computer is attached.