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Microsoft Dropping SCCM 1511 Support in December

The support clock is ticking for users of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) version 1511.

Microsoft said last week that it will cut support for SCCM version 1511 after Dec. 8, 2016. That means organizations will no longer get product updates, including security fixes, or technical support. Microsoft recommends that organizations upgrade SCCM to the latest release before that date.

SCCM now gets three types of releases. There's a production-ready "current branch" update that arrives "several times" per year, which is the target update for most organizations. There's also a "long-term servicing branch" update that just provides critical security patches, and no feature updates. Lastly, there are "technical preview" releases, which are released so that IT pros can test the next coming current branch in advance.

Microsoft had explained in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session back in June that SCCM just gets current branch releases. However, it looks like that idea got scrapped this month. The new approach, with the three release types described above, is explained in this recently published Microsoft document.

The last current branch release for SCCM was version 1606, which was released in July and lets users perform an upgrade from within the Updates and Servicing node in the SCCM console. However, for organizations upgrading from SCCM 2012 or SCCM 2012 R2 installations, Microsoft released a baseline installer of SCCM version 1606 in October that's designed for facilitate direct upgrades from those older products. To use the baseline installer, the latest service packs need to be in place, namely Service Pack 2 for SCCM 2012 or Service Pack 1 for SCCM 2012 R2.

The latest baseline version can be downloaded from the Volume Licensing Service Center, the Microsoft Evaluation Center and MSDN, according to Microsoft's announcement. Once a new baseline has been installed, future SCCM updates will arrive via the Updates and Servicing node, according to Microsoft's servicing scheme.

The baseline concept is a big deal under Microsoft's new service-enabled SCCM model. Microsoft considered SCCM version 1511, its first update under this new model, which was released on December 8, 2015, to be a baseline release. A discussion of the concept can be found in this article.

Each current branch release is supported for one year. If an SCCM installation doesn't get upgraded after that time, it'll be on a dead unsupported branch, with no updates arriving.

Microsoft's announcement alluded to the rationale behind this one-year support model. It turns out that SCCM users are following Microsoft's new Modern Lifecycle Policy. This support policy quietly came into effect in August, but just for a few of Microsoft's products. It's designed for products that are frequently updated, and Microsoft considers SCCM to fit that niche. Under the Modern Lifecycle Policy, Microsoft will just give a one-year notice before discontinuing support for a product.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.