Introduction

Upon waking up today, I found out that a new version of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) had been released, SCCM 1906!

If you are reading this blog post a while later, the release date of SCCM 1906 was on May 26th, 2019.

Since it’s a Saturday and it’s warm and sunny in Sweden today, I was aiming at hitting the beach early morning, but that will have to wait 🙂

Three times a year, Microsoft releases a new version of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). The last release was named 1902 and was released in March of this year.

SCCM follows a similar evergreen approach as Windows 10 and Office 365, where the products are continuously updated.

Below you can see the servicing support of SCCM for 2018/2019:

SCCM 1906 Servicing Support
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sccm/core/servers/manage/current-branch-versions-supported

There are quite a lot of new features included in SCCM 1906.

This blog post doesn’t cover all the new features in SCCM 1906, but just the subset that I think is the most interesting.

The most exciting news in SCCM 1906, according to me:

  • Desktop Analytics integration
  • Role-based access for folders
  • Debugging of Task Sequences
  • Clear app content from client cache during Task Sequence
  • Add a column for SMBIOS GUID in the device collection view
  • Multi-select and delete packages
  • User Group Discovery for Azure Active Directory
  • A stand-alone version of CMPivot
  • Dashboard for Delivery Optimization
  • Windows Virtual Desktop support
  • The new log viewer OneTrace
  • Determine the retention period for SCCM client cache
  • Pre-cache driver packages and OS images
  • Direct links to custom tabs in Software Center
  • Updated Software Center notification for newly available software

The most exciting new features in SCCM 1906

User Group Discovery for Azure Active Directory

It is now possible to discover groups and group memberships from Azure Active Directory. User Group Discovery in Azure Active Directory is a Pre-Release Feature in SCCM 1906.

A stand-alone version of CMPivot

CMPivot is an excellent tool for viewing hardware inventory data as well as real-time data.

Dashboard for Delivery Optimization

It is now possible to view how much client data is retrieved from Delivery Optimization.

Windows Virtual Desktop support

Replacing Microsoft Azure Remote App, Windows Virtual Desktop is Microsofts new Azure-based service for running applications in the cloud.

Windows Virtual Desktop is currently in Release Preview.

One great benefit of implementing Windows Virtual Desktop is that you receive free extended Windows security updates until 2023.

The new log viewer OneTrace

We now see the new log viewer OneTrace, soon to replace CMTrace.

Determine the retention period for SCCM Client Cache

It is now possible to determine how long the SCCM client should keep client cache data before deleting it.

To be able to configure the SCCM client retention period is an awesome feature!

Clear app content from client cache during a Task Sequence

This issue has been present for a long time now, and at last, the SCCM team has solved it! You encounter this issue if you install large applications in a Task Sequence. The SCCM client cache is filled up, and your Task Sequence fails.

The reason for this is that the SCCM cache by default only clears up itself every 24h.

This feature is very handy in many scenarios!

Pre-cache driver packages and OS images

Improving the pre-cache method, it is now possible to also pre-cache driver packages, as well as OS images.

Direct links to custom tabs in Software Center

It is now possible to create and share direct links to custom tabs in the Software Center.

Multi-select and delete packages

With SCCM 1906, we finally have the possibility of selecting several packages in SCCM and deleting them. Before this feature, we had to remove packages one-by-one in the console or create a Powershell script to remove the packages at the same time.

Why has this not worked before? Great!

Add a column for SMBIOS GUID in the device collection view

My recommendation nowadays is always to use the SMBIOS GUID instead of the Mac address. The reason for this being that if you have shared network adapters, like in a dongle, you are not able to PXE boot several machines in succession.

Desktop Analytics integration

Replacing Upgrade Readiness, Desktop Analytics is Microsoft’s new way of planning Windows 10 Feature Updates.

I am excited about leveraging Delivery Optimization for Windows as a Service projects. Ever since Upgrade Readiness, I have been using it to analyze the Windows 10 telemetry data, before upgrading to a new version of Windows 10.

However, Upgrade Readiness had some shortfalls, mainly regarding the user experience. The issues in Upgrade Readiness seem to have now been solved in Desktop Analytics!

Desktop Analytics in SCCM 1906
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Configuration-Manager-Blog/Update-1906-for-Configuration-Manager-current-branch-is-now/ba-p/775553

Scconfigmgr has written a great blog post on how to configure the Desktop Analytics integration.

Role-based access on folders

Creating a proper role-based access structure in SCCM has been a hassle since SCCM 2012 was released. One of the main reasons for this is that it has not been possible to grant specific permissions on folders.

Role-based access on folders is now possible!

Task Sequence debugging

Task Sequence Debugging in SCCM 1906
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sccm/core/plan-design/changes/whats-new-in-version-1906

WSUS Maintenance improvements

Maintaining a healthy WSUS infrastructure has always been, let’s say, challenging…

It is significant that Microsoft is acknowledging this and adding more features to maintain a healthy WSUS infrastructure.

The newly added WSUS maintenance tasks are:

  • Maximum run-time for Windows Feature Updates in minutes
  • Maximum run-time for Office 365 updates and non-Windows Feature Update in minutes

Updated Software Center notification for newly installed software

If a user receives a new application, the user is only notified once. Previously, the user would be notified upon each logon to Windows 10.

How to install SCCM 1906

As of this writing, July 27th, 2019, SCCM 1906 is only available for those who have opted-in for Fast Ring. Opting into the Fast Ring is something that you are required to do for each new release.

Each new SCCM release is typically in Fast Ring for around two weeks before being becoming generally available.

Download the script and run it on your Primary Server in SCCM.

Once downloaded, run the Fast Ring script:

Fast Ring Powershell Script in SCCM 1906

Since I was a day late with this blog post, there are already other blog posts in the community, describing how to install SCCM 1906:

Monitor the installation of SCCM 1906 using the logfiles.

Conclusion

As part of the Evergreen IT strategy from Microsoft, it is imperative that you as an organization keep up-to-date on the latest software releases. An evergreen IT strategy is not just applicable for SCCM, but also for Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus.

Unfortunately, we did not see the MBAM integration many were looking forward to. My guess and hope are that it will be released in the next version, SCCM 1910.

Which features will you be using in SCCM 1906? Please leave a comment below!

Now I’m off to the beach!

References

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