Microsoft Announces New 'Current Branch' for SCCM
- By Kurt Mackie
- July 25, 2016
Microsoft has upgraded Update 1606 of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to be the product's new "current branch."
According to Microsoft's announcement late last week, Update 1606 actually will get rolled out to SCCM users worldwide "in the coming weeks," though users who want it now can get it by running this PowerShell script. Previously, Update 1606 was available just as a technical preview, which could only be used for testing purposes.
Microsoft has service-enabled updates to its SCCM client and server management product. The updates show up in the "Updates and Servicing node in the SCCM console when ready. SCCM is service-enabled to keep pace with the service-enabled Windows 10 client. The Windows 10 client has "current branch" (monthly), "current branch for business" (every four months) and long-term servicing branch (annual) releases for IT pros to track.
The client also tends to have big releases in the summer and fall, or it did last year, but this year may be different. SCCM, in contrast, just has current branch releases, which happen about three times a year, Microsoft's SCCM team has explained. IT pros have to be somewhat careful about skipping an SCCM current branch release as they won't get critical non-security fixes from Microsoft. Each current branch release, though, is supported for a year, the team said.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update Support
Update 1606 is notable for providing support for the Windows 10 "anniversary update," which is scheduled to arrive on Aug. 2. The anniversary update will add security features such as Windows Hello for biometric logins of domain-joined devices and improvements to the built-in Windows Defender anti-malware service.
The anniversary update also will light up Windows 10 client support for the coming Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service, which, despite the name, isn't an anti-malware solution. It uses Microsoft's machine learning technologies to provide post-breach analyses of attacks. It's billed as a kind of forensics tool that takes the drudgery out of combing through log files after an attack.
In addition, the Windows 10 anniversary update will have a Windows Information Protection feature, which is the basis for separating personal data from corporate data when protecting against data leaks. Microsoft explained late last month that Windows Information Protection (formerly known as "Enterprise Data Protection") just adds basic data protections into the client operating system, but it's "designed specifically to work with the Office 365 ProPlus and Azure Rights Management" service to protect against data disclosures.
Microsoft recently signaled that its Azure Rights Management service will be transitioning into the Azure Information Protection service, which is set for commercial release sometime this year. The Azure Information Protection service is a bit more sophisticated in that it provides a means for end users to classify information when documents get created. It then enforces security protections on those files, such as Office documents, when the files get moved.
In addition to lighting up the Windows 10 security features described above, Update 1606 will turn on Windows Store for Business management capabilities. Windows Store for Business is a late-blooming Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile feature for IT pros. It lets them find applications, assign or reassign licenses, and distribute applications to end users. It's possible to use Windows Store apps or sideload line-of-business apps to Windows Store for Business.
Some features were added to Update 1606 because they were suggested by SCCM users via User Voice votes. Microsoft's announcement listed those additions.
For instance "content status links" were added to the admin console. It's also now possible to have a list view "for applications in the Software Center." The Software Center now has an "Install Selected Updates button" that will let IT pros simultaneously install multiple updates.
Other Update 1606 improvements are briefly described in this Microsoft TechNet library article.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.