configuration service provider (CSP)

A configuration service provider (CSP) is a component of the Windows client operating system that shows IT professionals potential device configuration choices and allows them to apply the settings across multiple Windows OSes.

IT can use CSPs to configure device-specific settings such as assigning file access permissions and determining application preferences on an organization-wide level. As a result, CSPs are essential for IT professionals to ensure that the each device's configurations meet the organization's standards for performance, security and more before they distribute devices to users.

Purpose of a CSP

IT can use CSPs as part of its mobile device management (MDM) process to ensure users' mobile configurations are set to the proper standards to meet security requirements. Unified device configuration can also ease IT's management burden by setting a universal configuration blueprint for all Windows mobile devices.

The configurations that CSPs allow IT to set range from the cursory, such as wallpapers, language, time zone and more, to the essential, including granting native tool access permissions for programs such as the Action Center, limiting application access and determining which settings a user can edit.

custom configuration service provider
Provisioning a custom configuration service provider

Further, IT can use CSPs as templates for certain user groups. For example, users in the sales department could have one configuration for their devices, while executives could have a different configuration -- each according to their priority and organizational needs. This process can save IT from manually inputting each configuration for every new device.

How organizations use configuration service providers

Many tools and applications such as Windows Configuration Designer provide an interface that IT professionals can use to set customized CSPs and deploy them appropriately.

There are plenty of CSPs IT can choose from to determine a variety of settings, including EnterpriseDataProtection CSP, which IT can use to configure Windows Information Protection, and WiFi CSP, which IT can use to add or delete Wi-Fi networks.

IT can also deploy CSPs through custom commands in a lockdown XML file which uses the XML metalanguage to determine how other code operates. In this case, IT would write commands for the CSP code to customize the CSP's function beyond its basic capabilities.

This was last updated in June 2018

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