Monday, May 2, 2011

New Application Catalog in ConfigMgr 2012

In ConfigMgr 2007 their was no default possibility to request new software. When users wanted additional applications, an e-mail or phone call was needed to get it. Some customers were using "Run Advertised Programs" then, to build a kind of Software Catalog. This was working also, but not that user friendly. In ConfigMgr 2012 this is changed with a new Software Center and Application Catalog. In this blog I will describe what functionality comes with these new programs.

In ConfigMgr 2012 there are four new roles available. Two of them has something to do with the Application Catalog. These are:
  • Application Catalog Web Service Point (HTTP or HTTPS)
  • Application Catalog Web Site Point (HTTP or HTTPS)

I have choosen HTTP on both roles here. Both are needed to have the Application Catalog working. The Software Center is automatically present when the ConfigMgr client is installed. This program is available from the start menu, which is a much better place then the Control panel I think. From the Software Center, the Application Catalog can be started. The Software Center is used for applications and patches that are deployed to the device. The Application Catalog is used for applications that are available for users.

Also there are additional settings available in the "Default Client Agent Settings" > Computer Agent. There the default Application Catalog website can be set, and Install permissions (for users and/or administrators). Now only new applications must be created, and deployed to a user collection. Otherwise applications will not be seen in the Application Catalog!

When opening the Software Center - Installation Status for the first time, there are no applications available. There is an "Track my application requests" here also, which leads to the Application Catalog.

When opening the Software Center - Installed Software for the first time, there are no applications available. There is an "Find additional applications from the Application Catalog" here also.

At Options, settings can be configured for Work information, Power management, Computer maintenance and Remote control. Power management and Remote control can be managed from the "Default Client Agent Settings" policy. For Work information and Computer maintenance this is not possible.

When choosing one of two above links, the Application Catalog is opened in a new web browser. There are no applications seen yet, this because these must be deployed to a user collection first. Now let's have a try!

I have added some new MSI files, which are imported as Applications. These MSI files are deployed to a User collection, which I named Software Catalog. A user group is added to this collection, so with next refresh on the Software Catalog window, my applications must be available (real time)!

When importing these Applications, choose to "Require administrator approval if users request this application" if needed. Otherwise uncheck this. Also user categories, user documentation and a localized description can be added. This can be different for each language selected! To finish it, selecting an icon for the application is also possible.

As you can see some applications need approval here. Other applications can be installed without a approval request. When requesting a new application, a reason is required to request it. In the ConfigMgr console "Approval Requests" is seen beneath Application Management. Within this screen all requests are visible (with reason information), and status for requested, denied or approved.

Now Application Management can be done within the same ConfigMgr console. No need to install a additional solution for this anymore! The only thing noticed, when application settings are changed in the ConfigMgr console, they are not available in the Software Catalog for some time. Hope this will be fixed in a newer release. For this moment a valuable addition in ConfigMgr 2012.

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