The Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) team has been doing a great job with implementing new features and improving the product on a regular basis following the Software as a Service (SaaS) model and using feedback from the community on the Microsoft Connect site, as well as paying close attention to feature and enhancement requests on the ConfigMgr UserVoice forum.
The 45th President of the United States of America was inaugurated on Friday, January 20th and on this day the ConfigMgr team released SCCM Tech Preview build 1701 which is the first new release of 2017. This update has a number of new features (as listed in the Enterprise Mobility & Security blogpost) which include:
UEFI inventory data – Hardware inventory can now determine whether the device is UEFI-enabled.
Validate Device Health Attestation Data via Management Point – You can now configure management points to validate health attestation reporting data for cloud or on-premises health attestation service.
Updated Content Library Cleanup Tool – The command line tool (ContentLibraryCleanup.exe) used to remove content that is no longer associated with any package or application from a distribution point (orphaned content) has been updated with fixes for known issues.
Host software updates on cloud-based distribution points – Beginning with this preview version, you can use a cloud-based distribution point to host a software update package.
Support for Microsoft Azure Government cloud added to Operations Management Suite (OMS) Connector feature – You can now configure an OMS connector for the OMS workspace on Microsoft Azure Government cloud.
Additional boundary groups improvements – Clients now find software update points using Boundary Group associations.
You can update to the 1701 Tech Preview release via the ConfigMgr console under the Updates & Servicing node. You will need the baseline version of Tech Preview 1610 if you are installing it brand new.
March 26, 2017 marks the end of the line for the original Windows 10 release version 1507, which was released in July 2015. After this date, Windows 10 1507 will no longer be serviced as only two latest Current Branch for Business (CBB) releases are actively serviced. The following statement was posted in this Microsoft blogpost on January 19th:
With the availability of Windows 10, version 1607 to the VLSC on January 26th, the 60-day grace period for Windows 10, version 1507 will begin. That means, after March 26th, 2017, Windows 10, version 1507 will no longer be serviced as only the two most Current Branch for Business (CBB) versions are actively serviced.
1507: 15 = 2015 (year), 07 = July (month).
Serviced = Upgrades and Security Updates.
The following webpage provides a nice breakdown on the Windows 10 release information which helps you determine if your systems are up to date and running the latest feature upgrades and servicing updates. Basically, the N+2 equation is used, where N equals an earlier version, and 2 equals a +/- 60-day countdown, at which time (at the end of the 60 days) N drops off the supported list.
1607 = CBB
N = 1507 (July 2015)
N+1 = 1511 (November 2015)
N+2 = 1607 (July 2017)
Microsoft uses the VLSC availability date as the trigger for the 60-day countdown. Since, the availability of Windows 10 version 1607 to VLSC customers will be made on January 26, 2017, therefore, version 1507 support will end on March 26, 2017 which is two months from the January availability of version 1607 (CBB).
For the last 20 years, Microsoft has provided security bulletins as individual web pages which were available from the Microsoft Security Bulletin website, and January 10, 2017 was the last time this was made available. Going forward starting in February 2017, the new Security Update Guide portal will provide the security information via a dashboard. Knowledge Base (KB) number, CVE number, vulnerability, Windows version, or date of release can be searched on the online Security Update Guide (SUG) database.
According the the blogpost by the MSRC Team, using the new portal, you can:
Sort and filter security vulnerability and update content, for example, by CVE, KB number, product, or release date.
Filter out products that don’t apply to you, and drill down to more detailed security update information for products that do.
Leverage a new RESTful API to obtain Microsoft security update information. This eliminates the need for you to employ outdated methods like screen-scraping of security bulletin web pages to assemble working databases of necessary and actionable information.
Windows 10, version 1607 was declared the Current Branch for Business (CBB) on November 29, 2016. The updated media for Windows 10 v1607 (Windows 10 Anniversary Update) is now available on Windows Update for Business (WUB), Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and MSDN. Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) customers will receive the updated Windows 10 v1607 media on January 26, 2017.
FYI – No further action is needed if you have already installed the December cumulative update (KB3201845), or the most current cumulative update (CU), as that system is already running the CBB release.
I am truly honored and humbled to receive my first Microsoft Most Valuable Professional [MVP] award on January 1, 2017 in the Windows and Devices for IT category. It was a surreal moment when I received the email (see below) from Microsoft informing me that I was awarded this prestigious recognition. Wow!
My heartfelt Thank you to the MVP Award team, to my MVP Lead Betsy Weber, to my IT Pro peers who recognized my work and efforts in the IT Pro community with the abundance of nominations, and to everyone who has supported and encouraged me to be a valuable influencer and a technical evangelist. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Here’s an overview of the MVP program:
If you know of any IT Professionals who work with Microsoft technologies and should be recognized for their skills, influence, and valuable assistance to the IT Pro community, or if you want to nominate yourself, you can provide nominations on the MVP website.
The best Christmas / New Year / Birthday present!
Finally, here’s my vlog message for my 1st MVP award –
I also talk about the MVP Award on the Harjit & Prayer Show:
In Windows 10, version 1607 aka the Anniversary Update, Microsoft added a new section to the Get Started app targeting enterprise IT professionals called “Tips for IT Administrators.” This is only available with the Enterprise edition of Windows 10 version 1607 or later.
This tool enables a Windows admin to quickly access step-by-step instructions on common enterprise IT tasks, for example:
Change the default browser
Create a private store
Work with Windows Update for Business
Links to deployment and management tools, including Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK)
To access Tips for IT Administrators:
Press the Windows logo key, search for Get Started, then press Enter
Go to Browse topics and select Tips for IT administrators
If you would like to see additional topics added to the Tips for IT Administrators section and have ideas or feedback for the Get Started app, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) has been released and the most current build (8443) can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. This update requires the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10 version 1607 (10.1.14393.0) which is available for download on the Microsoft Hardware Dev Center.
According to the MDT blog post by Aaron Czechowski (Senior Program Manager), MDT is now tagless without the year and version number and going forward, new releases will be identified by their build numbers only.
You may notice that we are not tagging this release with a year or update version. To better align with the current branches of Windows 10 and Configuration Manager, and to simplify the branding and release process, we are now just referring to it as the “Microsoft Deployment Toolkit”, using the build number to distinguish each release. This is not necessarily a “current branch” of MDT; we are committed to updating MDT as needed with revisions to Windows, the Windows ADK, and Configuration Manager.
Some of the significant changes in this update include:
The latest version of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 10 have been released. The download is available here. You will find the following two download files available for version 1.2 corresponding to x86 or x64 Operating Systems:
See here if you would like to determine if a computer is running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows OS.
The Microsoft Windows team mentioned on August 15, 2016 that they were working on releasing an updated version of the Microsoft Update Catalog which would eliminate the need for ActiveX requirements in order for the site to work in any browser.
The Microsoft Update Catalog website is being updated to remove the ActiveX requirement so it can work with any browser. Currently, Microsoft Update Catalog still requires that you use Internet Explorer. We are working to remove the ActiveX control requirement, and expect to launch the updated site soon.
Good news! As of yesterday, the site has been updated and you can now access the Microsoft Update Catalog site using any browser including Edge, Google Chrome, and others with the following URL: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com. Here’s the blog post by Michael Niehaus with the announcement.
There is a widespread report of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 R2 / 2016 console crashes due to some bugs in October 2016 Cummulative Updates, in particular with the following patches: KB3194798 / KB3192392 / KB3185330 / KB3185331.
The product team has acknowledged the issue on their blog post and is said to be working on releasing a fix soon. The current recommendation is to uninstall the problematic patches as a temporary workaround. According to the blog post, an announcement will be made on the SCOM Team blog when a fix has been made available. So, keep a close eye on it.