Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My experience with ConfigMgr 2016 (Technical Preview 3) so far

Last weeks I did a lot on ConfigMgr 2016 (Technical Preview 3). When installing the product (I used SQL 2014 and ADK 10 for this) and starting the console, no changes seems to be made. Thing is, most changes are not visible right away. You must use the product to see changes between the 2012 and 2016 release. The biggest one is under the hood. Let's have a look at my experience so far.

Because ConfigMgr 2016 is another x64 release, an in-place migration is possible from 2012 (when the product is final!). Only thing is, you need to update ADK (remove ADK 8.x and install ADK 10). It's possible to update SQL as well, but that's not a required thing. ConfigMgr 2016 can be installed as a servicepack (maybe it is off the record). You feel comfortable with it right away, which is quite nice. Just great to have a new release for the next coming years :)

Most important changes are:

Service connection point (connects ConfigMgr to Microsoft cloud services, it is used for Microsoft Intune subscription, and to update and service your ConfigMgr installation). You can choose between Online (persistent connection), which is recommended, and Offline (on-demand connection). Beneath Cloud Services (Administration tab) "Updates and Servicing" is added. Beneath that Features can be added by Microsoft dynamically. I installed "(Pre-Release) Version 1509 for Technical Preview" myself that way. With that you have "ConfigMgr as a service" from now on.

New task sequence: "Upgrade an operating system from upgrade package". This task sequence is used specially for Windows 10 upgrades. It contains a few steps only, but it does what it says: upgrade to Windows 10 in-place in just a few clicks. I did a Windows 8.1 to 10 upgrade within an hour with it.

Automatic Deployment Rules (ADR) can be connected to multiple collections now, without the need to set whole configuration again. Just click on the ADR and select "Add Deployment" to connect an existing ADR to another collection. When choosing properties on an existing ADR there is more overview, because of less tabs showing. Very nice there is improvement here!

Software Center and Application Catalog are (almost) merged now. Applications are showed in Software Center by default now, but approval still needs to be done in Application Catalog. Hope it will be merged totally in future soon. Software Center has a new look and feel, and can be used for (un)installing applications, software packages, and task sequence too. I use my for showing the Windows 10 upgrade task sequences available. Pity is still no e-mail notification is there by default. Other minus is that after approval the end user doesn't get an message that the application can be installed. Still some space for improvement if you ask me!

There will be full compatibility with existing features for Windows 10 (Windows as a service) in this release. And there will be a new hybrid option to manage Windows 10 devices via MDM with on-premises infrastructure. For this no ConfigMgr client is needed on the device. A workplace join (and company portal) is enough to show the device in ConfigMgr and push applications and policies. Just great isn't it?!

Hope to have my first ConfigMgr 2016 implementation and/or migration soon. This in combination with Microsoft Intune and Windows 10 for modern management. Microsoft is (still) the way to go! :) I'm very happy with the new possibilities till now.

More posts about ConfigMgr 2016:
New Microsoft System Center and Windows versions coming!
Installing ConfigMgr 2016 Technical Preview 3

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