Last week, Technical Preview 1703 for Configuration Manager was released, and with it came a few new features worth mentioning. If you don’t already have a lab environment set up (you should), you will need to wait until the new baseline build is released to get 1703 as Technical Preview 1610 is no longer able to download new builds. The Configuration Manager product team has said there will be a new baseline build coming, and when it does, make sure to dive in. The following features are quite simple to implement and gives us a glimpse of the end goal for the next build (I think it’s automation J).
Direct Links to Apps in Software Center
This feature is intended for applications that are already deployed in Software Center, and it won’t work for packages, programs, or task sequences. The benefit is that users will no longer need to open Software Center and search for a specific app. However I’m not entirely sure what this feature is trying to accomplish other than some beta automation at this point.
To use it, open your ConfigMgr console and go to Software Management / Application Management / Applications and then right click anywhere in the column headers to add “CI Unique ID”. You can then select the application and copy + paste to Notepad where you can clean it up so only the application GUID shows. Add Softwarecenter:SoftwareId= to the start of the line and dropg any text after the GUID.
If you start PowerShell within the ConfigMgr console you can grab the same ID without needing to do as much cleanup, but you’ll need to know the Localized Display Name (the text that shows in the Name column). The syntax is Get-CMApplication –Name <localized display name> | select CI_UniqueID.
Here’s how my application looks after it’s formatted with the entire required syntax for the feature:
Next, I deployed a Group Policy Preference to drop the shortcut on the user’s desktop. (Note: this isn’t sustainable, we will need to wait and see what the actual goal is of this feature). Alternatively, you could just have the end user go to Start – Run and paste in the link themselves.
As you can see, Software Center opens directly to the app I’ve targeted.
Secure Boot Property Added to Default Client Settings
This feature gives us the ability to report on whether or not a workstation has Secure Boot enabled, and is already enabled so there are no additional configuration steps needed after you upgrade to 1703.
Import Computer Records into Multiple Collections
When you import new computers (in bulk or individually as shown below), you can now add them to additional collections other than the All Systems collection.
Carrying over a nice MDT UI feature, you can now expand or collapse individual groups or parent groups at once. This makes organizing your visual workflow a lot better.
Use Client Settings for Windows Analytics
You can now use client settings (rather than deploying a pesky script) to use the Upgrade Readiness feature in ConfigMgr. I created a custom client setting specifically for Windows Analytics and supplied my Commercial ID, set telemetry and data collection levels, and specified IE data collection behavior.
Overall, I think Technical Preview 1703 brings some welcome features. You can check out the full list of new features on the docs page for this release.