What's changed in System Center Configuration Manager from System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

The current branch of System Center Configuration Manager introduces important changes from System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. This topic identifies significant changes and new capabilities found in the baseline version 1511 of System Center Configuration Manager. To learn about changes introduced in subsequent updates for System Center Configuration Manager, see What’s new in System Center Configuration Manager incremental versions.

The December 2015 release of System Center Configuration Manager (version 1511) is the latest product release of Configuration Manager from Microsoft. It is typically referred to as System Center Configuration Manager current branch. Current branch indicates this is a version that supports incremental updates to the product. It also provides a way to distinguish between this release and previous releases of Configuration Manager.

With this release, System Center Configuration Manager:

  • Does not use a year or product identifier in the product name, unlike past versions such as Configuration Manager 2007 or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

  • Supports incremental, in-product updates, also called update versions. The initial release is version 1511. Subsequent versions are released several times a year as in-console updates, like version 1602 or 1606.

In-console updates for Configuration Manager

System Center Configuration Manager uses an in-console service method called Updates and Servicing that makes it easy to locate and install recommended updates.

Some versions are only available as updates for existing sites (from within the Configuration Manager console), and cannot be used to install new Configuration Manager sites.
For example, the 1602 update is only available from within the Configuration Manager console. It is used to update a site that runs a baseline version of 1511 to version 1602.

Periodically, an update version is released as a new baseline version (like update 1606). This kind of update can be used to install a new hierarchy, without the need to start with an older baseline version (like 1511) and upgrade your way to the most current version.

For more information about using updates, see Updates for System Center Configuration Manager.

New site system role: service connection point

The Microsoft Intune connector is replaced by a new site system role that enables additional functionality, the service connection point. The service connection point:

  • Replaces the Microsoft Intune connector when you integrate Intune with System Center Configuration Manager on-premises mobile device management.

  • Is used as a point-of-contact for devices you manage.

  • Uploads usage data about your deployment to the Microsoft cloud service.

  • Makes updates that apply to your deployment available from within the Configuration Manager console.

This site system role supports both online and offline modes of operation. For more information, see About the service connection point in System Center Configuration Manager.

Usage data collection

System Center Configuration Manager collects usage data about your sites and infrastructure. This information is compiled and submitted to the Microsoft cloud service by the service connection point. It is required to enable Configuration Manager to download updates for your deployment that apply to the version of Configuration Manager you use. When you set up the service connection point, you can specify both the level of data that is collected, and whether this is submitted automatically (online mode) or manually (offline mode).

For more information, see Usage data levels and settings.

Support for Intel Active Management Technology (AMT)

With System Center Configuration Manager, native support for AMT-based computers from within the Configuration Manager console has been removed. AMT-based computers remain fully managed when you use the Intel SCS Add-on for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. The add-on provides you access to the latest capabilities to manage AMT, while removing limitations introduced until Configuration Manager could incorporate those changes.

The removal of integrated AMT for System Center Configuration Manager includes Out-of-Band Management. The Out-of-Band Management point site system role is no longer used, nor available.

Note that Out-of-Band Management in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is not affected by this change.

Deprecated functionality

Some capabilities, like native Support for Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) based-computers, are removed from the Configuration Manager console. Other capabilities, like Network Access Protection, are removed entirely. Additionally, some older Microsoft products like Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008, are no longer supported.

For a list of deprecated features, see Removed and deprecated features for System Center Configuration Manager.

For details about supported products, operating systems, and configurations, see Supported configurations for System Center Configuration Manager.

Client deployment

System Center Configuration Manager introduces a new capability for testing new versions of the Configuration Manager client before upgrading the rest of site with the new software. You can set up a pre-production collection in which to pilot a new client. Once you are satisfied with the new client software in pre-production, you can promote the client to automatically upgrade the rest of the site with the new version.

For more information on how to test clients, see How to test client upgrades in a pre-production collection in System Center Configuration Manager.

Operating system deployment

Be aware of the following changes to operating system deployment:

  • In the Create Task Sequence Wizard, Upgrade an operating system from upgrade package, a new task sequence type is available. It creates the steps to upgrade computers from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. For more information, see Upgrade Windows to the latest version with System Center Configuration Manager.

  • Windows PE Peer Cache is now available when you deploy operating systems. Computers that run a task sequence to deploy an operating system can use Windows PE Peer Cache to obtain content from a local peer (a peer cache source), instead of downloading content from a distribution point. This helps minimize wide area network (WAN) traffic in branch office scenarios where there is no local distribution point. For more information, see Prepare Windows PE peer cache to reduce WAN traffic in System Center Configuration Manager.

  • You can now view the state of Windows as a service in your environment. You can also create servicing plans to form deployment rings, and ensure that Windows 10 current branch computers are kept up-to-date when new builds are released. Additionally, you can view alerts when Windows 10 clients are near the end of support for their build of Current Branch (CB) or Current Branch for Business (CBB). For more information, see Manage Windows as a service using System Center Configuration Manager.

Application management

Be aware of the following changes to application management:

  • System Center Configuration Manager lets you deploy Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for devices running Windows 10 and later. See Creating Windows applications with System Center Configuration Manager.

  • Software Center has a new, modern look. 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, and makes it unnecessary for users to refer to the Application Catalog. Additionally, a Silverlight enabled browser is no longer required. See Plan for and configure application management in System Center Configuration Manager.

  • The new Windows Installer through MDM application type lets you create and deploy Windows Installer-based apps to enrolled PCs that run Windows 10. See Creating Windows applications with System Center Configuration Manager.

  • When you create an application for an in-house iOS app, you only need to specify the installer (.ipa) file for the app. You no longer need to specify a corresponding property list (.plist) file. See Creating iOS applications with System Center Configuration Manager.

  • In Configuration Manager 2012, to specify a link to an app in the Windows Store, you could either specify the link directly, or browse to a remote computer that had the app installed. In System Center Configuration Manager, you can still enter the link directly, but now, instead of browsing to a reference computer, you can browse the store for the app directly from the Configuration Manager console.

Software updates

Be aware of the following changes to software updates:

  • System Center Configuration Manager can now detect the difference between software update management methods for computers. Specifically, it can differentiate between a Windows 10 computer that connects to Windows Update for Business (WUfB) for software update management, and a computer connected to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for software update management. The UseWUServer attribute is new, and specifies whether the computer is managed with WUfB. You can use this setting in a collection to remove these computers from software update management. For more information, see Integration with Windows Update for Business in Windows 10.

  • You can now schedule and run the WSUS clean-up task from the Configuration Manager console. In Software Update Point Component properties, when you select to run the WSUS clean-up task, it will run at the next software updates synchronization. The expired software updates are set to a status of declined on the WSUS server, and the Windows Update Agent on computers will no longer scan these software updates. For more information, see Schedule and run the WSUS clean up task.

Compliance settings

Be aware of the following changes to compliance settings:

  • System Center Configuration Manager improves the workflow for creating configuration items. Now, when you create a configuration item, and select supported platforms, only the settings relevant to that platform are available. See Get started with compliance settings in System Center Configuration Manager.

  • The Create Configuration Item wizard now makes it easier to choose the configuration item type you want to create. Additionally, new and updated configuration items are available for:

    • Windows 10 devices managed with the Configuration Manager client.

    • Mac OS X devices managed with the Configuration Manager client.

    • Windows desktop and server computers managed with the Configuration Manager client.

    • Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 devices managed without the Configuration Manager client.

    • Windows Phone devices managed without the Configuration Manager client.

    • iOS and Mac OS X devices managed without the Configuration Manager client.

    • Android and Samsung KNOX Standard devices managed without the Configuration Manager client.

    See How to create configuration items in System Center Configuration Manager.

  • Support for managing settings on Mac OS X computers that are either enrolled with Microsoft Intune or managed using the Configuration Manager client. See How to create configuration items for iOS and Mac OS X devices managed without the System Center Configuration Manager client.

Protect data and site infrastructure

System Center Configuration Manager lets you integrate with Windows Hello for Business (formerly Microsoft Passport for Work). Windows Hello for Business is an alternative sign-in method that uses Active Directory, or an Azure Active Directory account, to replace a password, smart card, or virtual smart card on devices running Windows 10. See Windows Hello for Business settings in System Center Configuration Manager.

Mobile device management with Microsoft Intune

System Center Configuration Manager introduces improvements to the mobile device management experience, including:

  • Placing a limit on the number of devices a user can enroll.

  • Specifying terms and conditions users of the Company Portal must accept before they can enroll or use the app.

  • Adding a device enrollment manager role to help manage large numbers of devices.

For more information about mobile device management capabilities with Configuration Manager and Intune, see Hybrid mobile device management (MDM) with System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune.

On-premises Mobile Device Management

You can now manage mobile devices by using on-premises Configuration Manager infrastructure. All device management and management data is handled on-premises, and is not part of Microsoft Intune or other cloud services. This type of device management doesn't require client software. Configuration Manager manages devices with capabilities that are built into the device operating systems.

To learn more, see Manage mobile devices with on-premises infrastructure in System Center Configuration Manager.

To submit product feedback, please visit Configuration Manager Feedback