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Upcoming System Center 2012 Service Packs To Include Support for Windows 10

Microsoft on Thursday announced that its Configuration Manager components of System Center 2012 and System Center 2012 R2 will be receiving new service packs.

These service packs are adding "deployment, upgrade and management" capabilities for the Windows 10 client operating system, which currently is at the preview stage. However, they only support those capabilities for "existing features" of Windows 10, according to Microsoft's announcement.

This existing features point wasn't explained in Microsoft's announcement. It does echo a slide that was presented during an Ignite conference session earlier this month, though:

[Click on image for larger view.] Release milestones for Windows 10 management using SCCM and Intune. Source: Ignite presentation of May 4, 2015.

This chart shows that System Center 2016 Configuration Manager will support "new and existing features," while System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 2 (SCCM 2012 SP2) and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 (SCCM 2012 R2 SP1) will just support "existing features."

A Microsoft spokesperson indicated via e-mail that its next product, System Center 2016 Configuration Manager, will hit "general availability" in Q4, and it will be updated regularly to support Windows 10. Possibly, the 2016 product will be the only way to manage Windows 10's "new" features. Here is how the spokesperson explained it, although it's somewhat opaque:

Microsoft will not be providing support for new Windows 10 features with ConfigMgr 2012 or 2012 R2 (just app compatability). You will need the next version of Configuration Manager which will be available in Q4 in order to manage new Windows 10 features such as EDP (Enterprise Data Protection). We did add support for select new Windows 10 capabilities in the Configuration Manager Technical Preview that we released on May 4, during Ignite.

System Center 2016 Technical Preview 2 includes things like "enhanced scale-out file server management" and "mixed mode cluster upgrades," among other matters.

Microsoft has previously indicated that its existing supported SCCM products would work with Windows 10 clients when the new OS gets released this summer. However, a recent company announcement also implied that there will be a fall Windows 10 update release that will deliver additional security and management capabilities for businesses. Possibly, Microsoft is saying that the new service packs announced today won't support this fall Windows 10 update ("Q4"), but it's not really clear.

Microsoft's announcement today also directs System Center downloaders to its Evaluation Center page for both SCCM 2012 SP2 and SCCM 2012 R2 SP1 to get the new service packs. This approach of releasing "general availability" bits through the Evaluation Center caused confusion in a Microsoft TechNet forum page, as it was thought that these service packs are just test software. However, according to the Microsoft spokesperson, these evaluation copies can be used to move to the full "general availability" release by using an existing product key:

The service packs are at general availability. A customer can download the product evaluation on the Microsoft Evaluation Center and then use their existing product key to transition from the evaluation to the full product version. In addition, Microsoft will be making available these service packs on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) on May 27.

Additionally, Microsoft is promising that its MSDN subscribers will be able to get the bits next week via this download page.

Highlights of the new System Center 2012 service packs include faster App-V publishing in non-persistent VDI scenarios. There are also scalability improvements for pull distribution points. Microsoft improved data transfers for connections that are slow or latent. It also added SQL Server 2014 "native support."

A longer list of the service pack highlights can be found in Microsoft's TechNet library for SCCM 2012 R2 SP1.

About the Author

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

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