Recently, Microsoft released the first update for System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 3, which leverages its new Updates and Servicing feature.
So let’s take a look.
First off, according to the TechNet article, there are 2 new features that are included with this update: Combines End User Portals, and Client Piloting To PreProduction. Here’s the description from Microsoft:
- Combined end user portals – A unified portal experience is now available for end users, where all company approved software will be located for end users to discover and install. With this change, applications previously available only in the Application Catalog can now be viewed in the Software Center.
- Client piloting to preproduction – You can now deploy and test updates to the Configuration Manager client using a pre-production collection while leaving your current client version in use by the remainder of your hierarchy. You can try this scenario with an updated client version that we are releasing as part of this update for testing purposes.
Here is also some additional information on this update: https://technet.microsoft.com/library/dn965439.aspx#BKMK_TP3Update.
Discover New Updates
So how do we get the update? First, your Configuration Manager server needs to have an Internet connection.
Here is some interesting information from Microsoft on how this is done.
- Every seven days (beginning from the day and time that you installed Technical Preview 3), Configuration Manager checks for new updates that might be available.
- When an update is found, Configuration Manager will automatically download the update.
- You can check the DMPDownloader.log file to verify that the downloader thread started to download and extract the content. To find DMPDownloader.log file, go to <ConfigMgr_Installation_Directory>\Microsoft Configuration Manager\Logs\DMPDownloader.log.
- New updates display as Available in the console under Administration > Cloud Services > Updates and Services. In this same location the updates you have previously installed display as Installed.
So in my experience, I restarted the SMS_EXECUTIVE service on the SCCM server to force it to check for the update. Eventually it did appear, and shows as “downloading”.
However, when checking the DMPDownloader.log file, I see it initiating the process, but also throwing an error.
After further testing, it turns out the error was due to my lab networking. I have all my VMs running on an “Internal” Hyper-V switch. For any System Center VM that needs Internet access (i.e. SCOM for OMS, SCCM for WSUS, VMM for Azure, DPM for Azure Backup, etc.) I have a second “External” Hyper-V switch.
So on the required VMs, I add a second NIC and connect it to the external switch. Since I am not a networking expert, I think the issue lies with routing and response timing when it tries to use one switch over the other.
So in my case, I temporarily disabled the NIC connected to my Internal lab network from within my SCCM VM, and restarted the SMS_EXECUTIVE service. This time, the DMPDownloader.log file showed that it successfully identified the update, and started the download process.
In my environment the download tool approx. 10 minutes to complete, and was extracted to the following location: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\EasySetupPayload.
The folder, called EasySetupPayload, was 1.23 GB in size, containing 1,381 Files and 135 Folders.
After the download is complete, the Status in the SCCM console changed to Available.
To install an update, in Administration > Cloud Services > Updates and Services, select an Available update and then click Install Update Pack.
You will notice that there is also a button for “Run Prerequiste check” which seems logical to do prior to attempting to install the update. However, per the TechNet article, there are some known issues with this update; namely:
- This release ignores prerequisite check warnings and will not interrupt the installation. This happens regardless of whether you check the Prerequisite warning in the installation wizard.
- There is an option in the Configuration Manager console to Run prerequisite check only prior to the update pack installation. However, this option will run the full installation and not only the prerequisite check.
So since the “Run prerequisite check” will actually perform the full installation, I’m obviously not going to use that method.
When installing updates you are presented with a wizard that displays a list of the product areas that the update applies to.
Of course, there is a license term that we need to agree to as well.
If an update applies to the Configuration Manager client, you are presented with the option to test the client update with a limited set of clients.
Notice that you can specify a Collection, but this has to be an existing Collection (i.e. you can’t create a new one through this wizard).
If there are any new Features that are a part of the update package, these will be listed.
On the Summary screen, review the settings you’ve selected, then click Next.
Once the installation has started, click Close.
Note: Once the Update Pack for Configuration Manager wizard is “complete”, the status of the update will change from “Available” to “Installing”.
When you complete the update installation, Configuration Manager:
- Reinstalls any affected components like site system roles or the Configuration Manager console.
- Updates to clients are managed based on the selections you made for client piloting.
- Site system servers do not require a reboot.
- You can monitor the progress of the installation in the Configuration Manager console in Monitoring > Overview > Site Servicing Status > Show Status. Or, you can check the CMUpdate.log file in <ConfigMgr_Installation_Directory>\Logs\.
In my experience, I had a few Warnings with the prerequisites, but those were about my SQL Server memory, so no big deal in a lab environment.
In my environment the installation took approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Post Installation Confirmation
After the installation is complete, an upgrade popup message is displayed in the Configuration Manager console (running Technical Preview 3) to upgrade the console. Click OK to close the current Configuration Manager console and upgrade the console to the 1509 Technical Preview version.
After the Configuration Manager console upgrade completes, verify console and site version is correct. Go to About System Center Configuration Manager at the top-left corner of the console. The version should be 1509. The console and site version should be 5.00.8299.1000.
Now that the update is fully installed, let’s try out the new features.
Trying the New Features
Configure Client Piloting
In the Configuration Manager console open Administration > Site Configuration > Sites, and click Hierarchy Settings. On the Client Upgrade tab of the Hierarchy Settings Properties:
- Select Upgrade all clients in the pre-production collection automatically using pre-production client
- Enter the name of a collection to use as a pre-production collection
Click OK to save the Client Upgrade settings and continue.
Note: For the following steps taken from the TechNet article, I was not able to locate them in the console.
- Use Easy Setup to locate and start the installation of an update that includes a new client.
- During installation of the update, on the Client Options page of the wizard, select Test in pre-production collection, click Next, and then complete the wizard.
- After the wizard complete, clients in the pre-production collection will begin to install the updated client.
However, in looking at the CCMSetup.log file on a client that I added to the “Client Upgrade Collection”, we see that it identifies the version is different, and begins the install.
I also received a prompt from Software Center indicating that a restart was required.
Promote a Pre-Production Client to Production
When you are ready to move the updated client out of pre-production testing and into general use:
In the Configuration Manager console open Administration > Cloud Services > Updates and Servicing, and click Client Update Options
In Client Update Options, check the option to make the pre-production client version available to production, and then click OK.
After Client Update Options closes, the updated client version will replace the current client version in use in your hierarchy. You can then use your normal procedures to upgrade clients.
Now onto the next exciting feature, the new Software Center!
Software Center has a new, modern look and apps that previously only appeared in the Application Catalog (user-available apps) now appear in Software Center under the Applications tab. This makes these deployments more discoverable to users and removes the need for them to use the Application Catalog. Additionally, a Silverlight enabled browser is no longer required.
In my lab environment, I have 2 Applications. Office 365 ProPlus is deployed to the System Collection, and 7-Zip is deployed to the All Users Collection.
This is what the new “modern” style Software Center looks like.
However, if you navigate to the Installation Status area, there is still a link to the Application Catalog.
The Application Catalog won’t open in the new Edge browser, but if you open the link in Internet Explorer, it still works.
So for now, we still have the Application Catalog, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was discontinued by RTM release.