Early January Release for System Center 2012 SP1
Microsoft announced in a TechNet forum post that its System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 is currently at "release-to-manufacturing," with general availability scheduled for early January.
Few details were offered about the RTM release of SP1, except for its January release expectation, as well as a description of upgrade restrictions from earlier releases. In addition, Microsoft plans to update its TechNet pages to describe System Center 2012 SP1 support for SharePoint 2013 and Exchange 2013 workloads. A list of what's new in SP1 for System Center 2012 is described in this TechNet library article.
The arrival of SP1 for System Center 2012 is a big deal because it will add management support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. Without this service pack, there's no management support for those operating systems in System Center 2012.
Management of mobile devices comes into fuller play with SP1 of System Center 2012. The list of devices that can be managed with the service pack in place includes Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, Windows Phone 8 smartphones, Windows To Go memory sticks, Windows Embedded Standard 8 devices and Mac OS X client devices.
There may be some other announcements with regard to mobile device management that may arrive in January. Microsoft has hinted at some licensing changes to come associated with Windows Intune, its PC management service. The hinted change is that Windows Intune users will gain the rights to use System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. Windows Intune is set for an "early 2013" update.
A few other improvements are expected with SP1. PowerShell's automation capabilities in System Center Configuration Manager 2012 will be able to be tapped. The ability to move virtual machines from on-premises environments to Windows Azure will be enabled in System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. In addition, System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager will support the Windows Azure Online Backup Service.
Lastly, SP1 will be an important product release because many of Microsoft's partner-built applications are waiting on it. For instance, management products built by Microsoft's hardware partners on Windows Server 2012, such as HP and Dell, depend on the release of SP1.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.