Windows 10 Servicing Q&A

Windows-10-Servicing

I hope you managed to join our third and last webinar in a series covering Windows 10 migration. In this session we covered what happens after you’ve migrated most of your devices to Windows 10, managing new devices, device replacements, and rebuilds. We also covered Windows 10 Servicing in some depth. If you missed the session you can get the full recording and edited highlights at https://www.1e.com.

We had a few questions during the Q&A session that I’ve written up for your reference.

Q: How can I automate the replace scenario at a user’s desk?

A: Obviously we can’t automate everything, you’ve still got to pack up the old machine and put the new one on the desk 🙂 But the automation process is going to be basically using a two Task-Sequence approach that we outlined in the first webinar session (you can view the recording here), but in this scenario the first Task Sequence is deployed to the old computer and will back up the user’s data and settings.

You’ll need to store that on a State Migration Point, or if you’re using the 1E solution it can be stored on one or more local peers. The second Task Sequence is deployed to the new computer. You can either provision the new computer in CM before it is delivered to the user or, less popular, use the unknown computers feature in CM to get that built.

The second Task Sequence would typically be initiated through PXE (the user would boot up, press F12 and select the network boot option), so you would need a PXE service accessible in each location otherwise you’re going to have to be sending out USB drives.

As we showed in the first webinar session, our solution enables a peer-based PXE service you can use on existing workstations. The second Task Sequence deploys the image to the new computer and will restore the user state from the State Migration Point, or from one of the peers if you are using the 1E solution. If you’re using the 1E solution with the App Mapping feature, it will also install the apps that were installed and used on the old computer.

Q: Can you switch between Servicing Branches?

A: Yes, to some extent. It’s fairly easy to switch between Current Branch and Current Branch for Business – it’s just a case of enabling or disabling the Defer Upgrades option in the Windows Update Advanced Settings. You can either do that manually or through Group Policy or other management tools such as Configuration Manager.

You can go from Long Term Servicing Branch to Current Branch or Current Branch for Business by doing an in-place upgrade using the CB or CBB installation media, but it would need to be a later version than the currently installed LTSB version. In other words, technically you can go from LTSB 1507 to CB 1507 (it works but is not supported by Microsoft), but you can upgrade LTSB 1507 to CB 1511 (which is supported by Microsoft). Also, it’s a one-way switch – if you want to go back to LTSB you’ll need a full wipe-and-load install with the LTSB media.

Check out Mike Terrill’s blog at miketerrill.net, where he has a video that proves out the concept of going from LTSB to CB.

Q: Why can’t CM use express updates?

A: Why indeed! CM is integrated with WSUS and WSUS can be configured to use the express updates (by default it’s not). What that actually means is, the downloads from Microsoft are actually bigger over the WAN from between Microsoft and WSUS server, but then deployments out to the clients on your network are smaller. That’s supported in WSUS and so the logical conclusion would be well if CM’s integrating with WSUS, why doesn’t that use the express updates?

The reason is that in fact when you’re distributing software updates with CM, even though it’s integrated with WSUS, you actually download the full cumulative update and that gets added to a Software Update Package, which is then distributed to DPs. So that’s what the clients get. There is a request on User Voice, so go ahead and add your vote!

Q: Can I use SCCM 2012 to upgrade 1507 to 1511?

A: Technically, I guess you could. 1511 is supported as an operating system in SCCM 2012 R2 SP1, but obviously you don’t have the new Windows 10 Servicing options or the new Task Sequence steps that we covered in the webinar. There was a Task Sequence and scripts that Microsoft shared last year that can be used to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 10 in SCCM 2012. It used the installation media as a Package with a custom command line to run setup and perform the in-place upgrade. That was intended to upgrade to Windows 10 from earlier versions of Windows at the time, but I guess you could replace the 1507 installation media with 1511 and give that a go! But you really should be getting onto at least CM 1511 as soon as you can, especially if you’re managing Windows 10 devices already.

Q: We’re set to upgrade SCCM 2012 R2 SP1 this weekend, would you recommend upgrading to 1511 or 1602?

A: Unfortunately, you can’t go straight from SCCM 2012 to 1602. You have to upgrade to 1511 first, as 1602 is an ‘in-console’ upgrade. Upgrade to 1511 (of course you would have run the database upgrade test beforehand) and keep an eye on the Site Component Manager (sitecomp.log) to ensure the upgrade has fully reinstalled all components, including the Management Points. You can then upgrade to 1602 through the console. Once the 1602 upgrade has completed, you can then upgrade all your clients to 1602 (no need to upgrade the clients twice).

Q: Will Microsoft support peer-to-peer natively with Configuration Manager at some point?

A: Well they do already (kind of). BranchCache can be used for software and software update deployments and the Windows PE Peer Cache (new in CM 1511) can be used to get Package content during an OS Deployment Task Sequence. I’d speculate that it is very unlikely these will be replaced with anything else more ‘native’ to CM.

Q: Are there any steps for customizing the Azure domain joining step during OS deployment ?

A: There is no way to programmatically join a machine to an Azure Active Directory domain, it must be done manually. This also means that there are no hooks in the OSD deployment process either.

Q: Has anyone found a reliable way of customizing the taskbar for all users?

A: I have not done this myself, but here is a blog that outlines the process, it’s going to be all-or-nothing, meaning that you create a default taskbar outline and copy it to the default user profile for the local machine. I have been told by Internal sources at MSFT, that there are working on a powershell cmdlet similar to Import-StartLayout and Export-StartLayout for task bar items (Hopefully by RS1).

I hope you found this webinar series useful. If you have any topics you would like to see covered in future webinars, please email them to 1emarketing@1e.com.

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