Install Software Updates

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

The Install Software Updates step is commonly used in Configuration Manager task sequences. When installing or updating the OS, it triggers the software updates components to scan for and deploy updates. This step can cause challenges for some customers, such as long timeout delays or missed updates. Use the information in this article to help mitigate common issues with this step, and for better troubleshooting when things go wrong.

For more information on the step, see Install Software Updates

Recommendations

To help this process be successful, use the following recommendations:

Use offline servicing

Use Configuration Manager to regularly install applicable software updates to your image files. This practice then reduces the number of updates that you need to install during the task sequence.

For more information, see Apply software updates to an image.

Single index

Many image files include multiple indexes, such as for different editions of Windows. Reduce the image file to a single index that you require. This practice reduces the amount of time to apply software updates to the image. It also enables the next recommendation to reduce the image size.

Reduce image size

When you apply software updates to the image, optimize the output by removing any superseded updates. Use the DISM command-line tool, for example:

dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:C:\Data\install.wim /MountDir:C:\Mountdir
dism /Image:C:\Mountdir /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase 
dism /Unmount-Image /MountDir:C:\Mountdir /Commit  

Image engineering decisions

When you design your imaging process, there are several options that can impact the installation of software updates:

Periodically recapture the image

You have an automated process to capture a custom OS image on a regular schedule. This capture task sequence installs the latest software updates. These updates can include cumulative, non-cumulative, and other critical updates such as servicing stack updates (SSU). The deployment task sequence installs any additional updates since capture.

For more information on this process, see Create a task sequence to capture an OS.

Advantages

  • Fewer updates to apply at deployment time per client, which saves time and bandwidth during deployment
  • Fewer updates to worry about causing restarts
  • Customized image for the organization
  • Fewer variables at deployment time

Disadvantages

  • Time to create and capture image, even though it's mostly automated
  • Increased time to distribute the image to distribution points, which can be seen as outage for active deployments
  • Time to test through pre-production environments may be longer than OS patch cycle, which can make the updated image irrelevant

Use offline servicing

Schedule Configuration Manager to apply software updates to your images.

For more information, see Apply software updates to an image.

Advantages

  • Fewer updates to apply at deployment time per client, which saves time and bandwidth during deployment
  • Fewer updates to worry about causing restarts
  • You can schedule the servicing process at the site

Disadvantages

  • Manual selection of updates
  • Increased time to distribute the image to distribution points
  • Only supports CBS-based updates. It can't apply Office updates

Tip

You can automate the selection of software updates using PowerShell. Use the Get-CMSoftwareUpdate cmdlet to get a list of updates. Then use the New-CMOperatingSystemImageUpdateSchedule cmdlet to create the offline servicing schedule. The following example shows one method to automate this action:

# Get the OS image
$Win10Image = Get-CMOperatingSystemImage -Name "Windows 10 Enterprise"

# Get the latest cumulative update for Windows 10 1809
$OSBuild = "1809"
$LatestUpdate = Get-CMSoftwareUpdate -Fast | Where {$_.LocalizedDisplayName -Like "*Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version $OSBuild for x64*" -and $_.LocalizedDisplayName -notlike "*Dynamic*"} | Sort-Object ArticleID -Descending | Select -First 1 
Write-Host "Latest update for Windows 10 build" $OSBuild "is" $LatestUpdate.LocalizedDisplayName

# Create a new update schedule to apply the latest update
New-CMOperatingSystemImageUpdateSchedule -Name $Win10Image.Name -SoftwareUpdate $LatestUpdate -RunNow -ContinueOnError $True 

Use default image only

Use the default Windows install.wim image file in your deployment task sequences.

Advantages

  • A known good source, which reduces the risk of image corruption as a possible issue
  • Eliminates modifications to image as a possible issue

Disadvantages

  • Potential for high volume of updates during the deployment
  • Increased deployment time for every device
  • May not have needed customizations, requires additional task sequence steps to customize

Flowchart

This flowchart diagram shows the process when you include the Install Software Updates step in a task sequence.

View the diagram at full size

Flowchart diagram for the Install Software Updates task sequence step

  1. Process starts on the client: A task sequence running on a client includes the Install Software updates step.
  2. Compile and evaluate policies: The client compiles all software update policies into WMI RequestedConfigs namespace. (CIAgent.log)
  3. Is this instance the first time it's called?
    1. Yes: Go to Full scan
    2. No: Is the step configured with the option to Evaluate software updates from cached scan results?
      1. Yes: Go to Scan from cached results
      2. No: Go to Full scan
  4. Scan process: either a full scan or scan from cached results, with monitoring process in parallel.
    1. Full scan: The task sequence engine calls the software update agent via Update Scan API to do a full scan. (WUAHandler.log, ScanAgent.log)
      1. SUM agent scan - full: Normal scan process via Windows Update Agent (WUA), which communicates with software update point running WSUS. It adds any applicable updates to the local update store. (WindowsUpdate.log, UpdateStore.log)
    2. Scan from cached results: The task sequence engine calls the software update agent via Update Scan API to scan against cached metadata. (WUAHandler.log, ScanAgent.log)
      1. SUM agent scan - cached: The Windows Update Agent (WUA) checks against updates already cached in the local update store. (WindowsUpdate.log, UpdateStore.log)
    3. Start scan timer: The task sequence engine starts a timer and waits. (This process happens in parallel with either the full scan or scan from cached results process.)
      1. Monitoring: The task sequence engine monitors the SUM agent for status.
      2. What's the response from the SUM agent?
        • In progress: Has the timer reached the value in task sequence variable SMSTSSoftwareUpdateScanTimeout? (Default 1 hour)
          • Yes: The step fails.
          • No: Go to Monitoring
        • Failed: The step fails.
        • Complete: Go to Enumerate update list
  5. Enumerate update list: The SUM agent enumerates the list of updates returned by the scan, determining which are available or mandatory.
  6. Are there any updates in the list of scan results?
    • Yes: Go to Install updates
    • No: Nothing to install, the step successfully completes.
  7. Deployment process: The install updates process happens in parallel with the deployment monitoring process.
    1. Install updates: The task sequence engine calls the SUM agent via Update Deployment API to install all available or only mandatory updates. This behavior is based on the configuration of the step, whether you select Required for installation - Mandatory software updates only or Available for installation - All software updates. You can also specify this behavior using the SMSInstallUpdateTarget variable.
      1. SUM agent install: Normal install process using existing cached list of updates, with standard content download. Install update via Windows Update Agent (WUA). (UpdatesDeployment.log, UpdatesHandler.log, WuaHandler.log, WindowsUpdate.log)
    2. Start deployment timer and show progress: The task sequence engine starts an installation timer, shows sub-progress at 10% intervals in TS Progress UI, and waits.
      1. Monitoring: The task sequence engine polls the SUM agent for status.
      2. What's the response from the SUM agent?
        • In progress: Has the installation process been inactive for 8 hours?
          • Yes: The step fails.
          • No: Go to Monitoring
        • Failed: The step fails.
        • Complete: Go to Is the step configured with the option to Evaluate software updates from cached scan results?

Timeouts

The diagram includes two of the timeout variables that apply to this step. There are other standard timers from other components that can impact this process.

  • Update scan timeout: 1 hour (smsts.log)
  • Location request timeout: 1 hour (LocationServices.log, CAS.log)
  • Content download timeout: 1 hour (DTS.log)
  • Inactive distribution point timeout: 1 hour (LocationServices.log, CAS.log)
  • Total install inactive timeout: 8 hours (smsts.log)

Troubleshooting

Use the following resources and additional information to help you troubleshoot issues with this step: