Insights

Top 10 Improvements in ConfigMgr 1606

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With Microsoft’s new Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) release cadence, they’re adding and improving features with remarkable swiftness! Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a complete newcomer to ConfigMgr, you may be wondering what is new/has changed in the product since it originally shipped back in November last year.

If you didn’t catch the enormously popular “What’s New in SC ConfigMgr Since RTM” webinar Adaptiva presented last week with Wally Mead from Cireson, you can still view the video. The Q&A was very engaging, and the total running time is 2hr. For quicker look, in this blog post I highlight what I consider are the Top 10 new features in the latest update to the product known as ConfigMgr Current Branch 1606.

1. Updates to Software Center

In the 1606 release Software Center has had a makeover:

  • List view Vs Tile View – You can now choose between seeing all of your software in a list view or a tile view.
  • Single tab to view all installed software – In previous releases you had separate tabs, one for Installation Status and the other for Installed Software.
  • Separate tabs for Applications, Operating Systems and Updates – These provide easy segregation of the different types of software rather than everything being lumped in together.
  • Multi-select Software Updates – You can now multi-select the software updates you want to install plus there is a new Install All

2. Client Cache Settings can be configured via Client Settings

Prior to 1606 if you wanted to control the Client Cache you had to append various switches to the ccmsetup command line.  In 1606 you now have the ability to centrally control settings. A good example is whether to use the Client Cache and its maximum size (either in MB or as a percentage of disk space), via the Client Cache Settings group in Client Settings. This also means you can apply these settings globally by modifying the default client settings, or you can create customised client settings that you apply to different Collections to meet your needs.

3. On Demand Switching of Software Update Points

You maybe have multiple Software Update Points (SUPs) in your environment. If the SUP the client is using fails, the client retries the failed SUP for up to two hours.  Now in 1606 if you know a SUP has failed you can right click on a Collection containing the affected clients, select Client Notification then click on the new Switch to next Software Update Point action to tell these clients to use the next SUP in their list of SUPs.

4. Content Status Link Improvement

Previously whenever you viewed a piece of content and you wanted to know its status, and clicked on the Content Status link, it took you to the Content Status node showing the status of all content—not just the specific piece of content you are interested in.  This has been changed in 1606 to take you to the status for the relevant piece of content.

5. Multiple Device Management Points for On-Premise Mobile Device Management

If you are running ConfigMgr 1606 and Windows 10 Anniversary edition PCs, you can now have multiple on-premise Mobile Device Management (MDM) Device Management Points.

6. Device Categories for MDM enrolled devices

You can now create various categories for your MDM enrolled devices.  When a user enrolls a device they can choose the category or you can specify rules on your Collections so when a device in enrolled it is assigned to a certain category.

7. Ability to customise RamDISK TFTP block size and window size for PXE-enabled DPs

You can now customise these settings through new RamDiskTFTPBlockSize and RamDiskTFTPWindowSize Registry keys which should resolve issues with timeout errors.

8. Full scan or use Cached Scan Results for Software Updates

During an Operating System Deployment (OSD) of an image you now have the ability to either perform a full scan for software updates if your image is out-of-date. Or, if your image is relatively up-to-date, you can now use a cached set of scan results to limit which software updates are installed thus speeding up your deployments.  To do this select the new Evaluate software updates from cached scan results checkbox which is part of the Install Software Updates step.

9. Improvements to Install Software Updates Task Sequence step for Software Update Scans

You can now use the new SMSTSSoftwareUpdateScanTimeout Task Sequence variable to specify a timeout value to control how long the update scan should run.  Plus logging of the update process has been improved so you will now see the smsts.log referring out to the other logs used in the software update scanning process.

10. Updates to the Updates and Servicing Node

There have been several changes to the Updates and Servicing node:

  • The Site Servicing Status node has been renamed to Updates and Servicing Status
  • Improvements to View Status – Now rather than just showing a long list of everything the status is broken down into groups and also shows each individual step and the progress of each step.
  • The new Ignore prerequisite warnings Ribbon action in the Monitoring node can be used to restart the installation of failed updates if you forgot to tell the update to ignore prerequisite warnings.
  • Only the most recently installed update and any available ones are shown – The new History button on the Ribbon in the Administration node allows you to see the history of updates for the site.
  • The Client Update Options action has been renamed to Promote Pre-production Client

What else?

In addition to the above, 1606 includes the following:

  • Remote Control clipboard sharing can be configured via Client Settings
  • Windows Store for Business integration has been enhanced
  • SQL Server AlwaysOn availability group support has been updated so you can select the group during the installation of a site
  • Enterprise Data Protection has been renamed to Windows Information Protection
  • On-premise Health Attestation Service integration is now available
  • Company owned devices can now be pre-declared
  • Various improvement to iOS volume-purchased apps
  • Smart Lock for Android
  • iOS Activation Lock
  • Passport for Work has been renamed to Windows Hello for Business
  • Integration with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection
  • No collisions between OSD performing updates and Windows 10 Servicing Plans

There are also some items that have been deprecated in 1606 and others that have been moved to pre-release.  In 1606 some pre-release features are included in the production build.  You have the option of enabling these options so they are available in the console.  For more information see:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/mt752488.aspx

Cliff Hobbs
By Cliff Hobbs, Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility, Founder and CEO of FAQShop.