It seems like it was not long ago that Kent and I presented Preparing for the Future of SCCM and Maximizing SCCM 1511 for Enterprise Client. But that was a year ago and so much has happened since then. We thought it was worth taking another look at where System Center Configuration Management is and where it’s heading which we did in this recent webinar.
A lot has changed since then. We have seen three production releases of Current Branch (1602, 1606, and 1610) and the 1511 version that we talked about last time is no longer in support. The Configuration Manager Team was also busy releasing monthly Technical Previews, as well as a new Microsoft Deployment Toolkit release (build 8443). This is a far cry from the “old days” of System Center Configuration Management updates every few years!
How to get updates has changed. So has how to upgrade to the next version.
We now have the concept of Baseline Builds and In-console Updates. Baseline Builds are essentially full installs that you use to get to Current Branch from Configuration Manager 2012 or if installing a brand new Current Branch site. In-console Updates are released in between the Baseline Builds and show up directly in the Configuration Manager Console. Either type can be a “Fast Ring” or “Slow Ring” release. This is when the new build shows up in the console.
We also talked about and showed some of the key features in each of the Current Branch releases.
There have been so many changes that we did not have enough time to go through every new feature in each release but the following links provide great information on what was new in each build:
Along with a new release cycle comes a new support cycle. Current Branch builds are supported for exactly one year from release. This means that companies are going to need to upgrade at least once per year in order to stay supported. However, the goal is to get companies to upgrade with every release and make the process as quick and easy as possible. Moving from version to version is easier than applying a service pack. And a testament to back this up, as of December 2016, over ten thousand unique customers were already running version 1610.
If you are still using System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, (hopefully, SP2 or R2 SP1), mainstream support ended in July of 2016. Keep in mind that it only supports deploying the first two releases of Windows 10. One of those versions, Windows 10 1507, is no longer supported after March of this year.
For more information on the support, lifecycle see: Support for System Center Configuration Manager current branch versions.
Since the release of 1610, there have only been a few reported issues. Did you take advantage of the Fast Ring deployment? Then you probably saw one or two hotfixes show up in the Updates and Servicing node in the CM Console. (If you upgraded after Dec 20th, 2016, then neither of these will apply.)
These have addressed issues that were identified during the Fast Ring period, but there is another, somewhat major issue that still exists. This one happens to be with the Apply Driver Package step failing (in some cases) when the ADK has been upgraded to ADK 1607 on Configuration Manager Current Branch 1602 or newer. The Configuration Manager OSD Support Team’s Frank Rojas has published an excellent blog on the issue (Apply Driver Package task fails when the ADK is upgraded to ADK 10 1607) and he provides three work around solutions until the problem is fixed. This will likely come with an update to the ADK since the problem appears to be with DISM.
Kent has a neat method for handling drivers that he demonstrated. Microsoft MVP Kim Oppalfens expanded on this method and made it dynamic in his blog post.
If you would like to see something more about CM, head on over to the System Center Configuration Manager Feedback site. This is where you can vote on feature ideas that have already been submitted. Or, you can submit new ideas that you would like to see in a future version of the product. The voting feedback enables to the Configuration Manager Team to prioritize work on feature ideas.
As for 2017, we are likely to see two to three more Configuration Manager Current Branch releases. Possibly two Windows 10 releases! We are especially looking forward to the highly-anticipated Windows 10 Creators Update release. Hopefully, you enjoyed the webinar. Be sure to check out the follow-up Questions and Answers blog.