Insights

Ami's Lab

ConfigMgr TP1708 – Shiny Ending to Summer

by

Adaptiva presents Ami's Lab

Adaptiva’s Technical Evangelist, Ami Casto promises to “science the bits” out of everything from the latest ConfigMgr releases and Windows 10 OSD advances to tools and techniques from the community. Follow this blog series to separate the buzz from from the bytes with new tech by finding out how it behaved in Ami’s Lab.

The final technical preview build of the summer has finally arrived. There are many shiny features to make any ConfigMgr admin excited to dig in and play. This build brings us a handful of new PowerShell cmdlets, a peek at management insights, improvements to the well-received Run Scripts action as well as a new and useful right click action.

PowerShell cmdlets

There are 8 new PowerShell cmdlets. As a reminder, I wrote how to get the list of cmdlets that ship with each technical preview and compare that list between any two builds. That post can be found here [link to TP1705 blog]. Here is the shiny list of PowerShell cmdlets:

Get-CMTSStepApplyOperatingSystem
Get-CMTSStepApplyWindowsSetting
Remove-CMTSStepApplyOperatingSystem
Remove-CMTSStepApplyWindowsSetting
New-CMTSStepApplyOperatingSystem
New-CMTSStepApplyWindowsSetting
Set-CMTSStepApplyOperatingSystem
Set-CMTSStepApplyWindowsSetting

Client Settings

Previously, customizing Software Center was extremely limited. Now, there is a new tab called Software Center in Client Settings where you can activate customization. When turning on this feature, it overrides what an admin may have previously set in Computer Agent tab of Client Settings. This means, if the new feature is activated, the Company Name field in the Computer Agent tab gets ignored, even if it is defined only in Computer Agent. This is an important limitation to know.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Within the shiny new setting is the ability to add a company logo. The logo is limited to 100px x 400px and a max size of 750k. It is also limited to .jpeg and .bmp files. If the logo does not meet the requirements, a warning box will appear.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Admins can also choose from a basic color pallet to set a color. The set custom color option is visible but inaccessible, giving hope that in the future admins will be able to define custom colors beyond the small sample available.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

An additional control added to the setting is the ability to define whether the following tabs are visible:

  • Applications
  • Updates
  • Operating Systems
  • Installation Status
  • Device Compliance
  • Options

In this example, I used the client setting to hide the Options tab for clients so that only the first five tables are visible. Additionally, the logo and custom color I set are visible.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Run Scripts

It is hard to deny that the Run Scripts feature introduced in TP1706 was well-received. There are several blog posts with ideas on how this feature can be used to run static scripts in near real-time against collections. New to this amazing feature is the ability to specify optional parameters at run time. Setting the parameters at run-time means generic scripts can be re-used for many purposes without the need to re-code lengthy scripts.

In my example, I am using a script that will add roles to a server. Just running the script in PowerShell ISE prompts me to provide the parameters. In this case, the parameters would be the roles I want the script to install.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

The prompt for the optional parameter is normal behavior, and now ConfigMgr can mimic this PowerShell behavior. In the example below, I have imported the same script and approved it. Now when I run it, I am prompted for an optional parameter. Here I have chosen File. The script will run and only install Data Deduplication on the (server) client I specified.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

It is important to note that you can use the Run Script against individual devices as well as device collections. To run against a single device, you have to drill down to it within a device collection. You can’t run a script against a device from the devices node. In Client Operations in the monitoring node, you will see the parent collection of the individual device. In Script Status, you will see the collection ID. Any success/failure should report in near real-time as the feature is using the fast channel.

On the server that I ran the script, I can go to the Run Script log which is in %windir%\CCM\Logs\Scripts.log . The log shows status by script GUID and I can visually verify on my site server that the script that succeeded is the one I just ran.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

I can also go to Server Manager and open Roles and Features and click through the wizard to find that the File and Storage Services roles I specified such as Data Deduplication are installed.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Additional Features

There is an in-console reboot option which allows admins to reboot PCs within device collections. The reboot counter and subsequent dialog box is directly tied to the reboot counter specified in the Computer Restart tab in Client Settings.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

To use the feature, drill down to a device within a collection and right click it. From there click Reboot in the Client Notifications menu. The console will then notify if the device is online and able to perform the action.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

The reboot will show up on the client in the following log %windir%\CCM\Logs\SCToastNotification_.log . The log also wrote the reboot threshold I set in Client Settings (two minutes).

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Both Windows and ConfigMgr warned about the reboot. I could dismiss the Windows notification, and as expected I could not dismiss or hide the ConfigMgr notification.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1708

There are two more features worth mentioning; however, they appear to be not functioning as expected. The first is the ability to see pending reboots for devices in the console. Simply add the Pending Reboot column in devices (or device collections) node. Currently all devices report that they do not have pending reboots, even if they do.

The second feature is the Management Insights node added to Monitoring. From here admins should be able to see any empty device collections or applications with no deployments. I was not able to get anything to populate this view despite all wizardry I attempted. Hopefully these two features are more functional in the next technical preview.

Conclusion

If you would like to keep up with our entire Technical Preview series, you can follow along on the SCCM Academy. There are many features released with ConfigMgr technical preview that already exist in Adaptiva’s Client Health so if you would like to use those features in production then sign up for our product webinars and for a demo to see them in action in your environment.

Ami Casto
Technical Evangelist

Get free education resources and more at the Adaptiva Academy

Get Free Stuff