Configuration Manager 1702 has been made available in the fast ring, and early adopters can breathe a sigh of relief that the much anticipated update is finally here. If you aren’t familiar with how the early adopter process works, you can read information about it here as well as download the script to run to put your environment into fast ring gallery.technet.microsoft.com. A version of this script is required to be run with each production release of Configuration Manager.
1702 brings with it some great changes, and that full list is available here: docs.microsoft.com
The top 10 changes/features that I’m excited about are:
1. Support Changes for SQL and Server 2008 R2
A change worth mentioning is that if you’re running Configuration Manager Current Branch in a legacy environment, you’re in for some bad news. Starting with 1702, you’re losing support for both SQL and Server 2008 R2.
2. Improved cleanup of updates
This housekeeping item improves the process of cleaning up the EasySeptupPayload folder for future updates. On that note, be sure to check out the Content Library Cleanup tool: docs.microsoft.com/.
3. Customizing High Impact Task Sequences
Not only can you declare any Task Sequence as High Impact. Although if a Task Sequence meets certain criteria it is automatically considered High Impact, you can now change the default notification (you know, the one that scares users by warning of data loss) to a message of your own choosing. If you decide to stick with the default notification, it has been changed to reflect the fact that In-Place upgrades do migrate apps, settings, and data.
4. Task Sequence pre-caching is a pre-release feature that has to be enabled.
This feature pre-downloads ALL packages associated with the Task Sequence and is enabled with a single checkbox. The great thing about this feature is that it changes the end user experience of clicking to run the Task Sequence and waiting for the content to finish downloading before it can be executed. This is a particularly bad experience in throttled or poorly connected networks. The feature can be turned on when creating a new deployment, or by navigating to Properties on an existing deployment.
5. UEFI hardware inventory
You can now inventory and report on UEFI thanks to a new hardware class called SMS_Firmware.
6. ADK version tracking
This feature enables you to customize boot images within the console that match the version of the ADK installed. In other words, you can do more with a boot image that matches what’s installed on your site server. If you’re interacting with an older boot image, you won’t be able to see the extra tabs.
7. Improvements to install applications step in a task sequence
It used to be that you could only install nine applications in a step. Now, you can install 99. Even better is that rather than selecting one-by-one, you can now multi-select too.
8. BIOS to UEFI conversion support
Support for the Windows 10 Creators Update BIOS to UEFI conversion for inplace-upgrade Task Sequences.
9. Add additional content to standalone media and set expiration dates
The ability to set expiration dates is great for version control, and up until now, you were only able to add content to the media that was explicitly called upon in the Task Sequence.
10. Updates and servicing node has moved out of Cloud Services
This isn’t a particularly exciting technical feature, but making this change to the UI makes it easier to drill into updates and servicing and therefore it is a welcome change.