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Microsoft gives Config Manager the service overhaul

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 6, 2015
Frequent updates coming to key enterprise PC management tool to support 'Windows as a service' model of Windows 10.

Each version will be supported for just 12 months, at which time IT administrators must have applied the latest update or face falling out of support, said Aaron Czechowski, a senior program manager in the enterprise client and mobility team, in a post to a company blog last week. That rule, too, mirrored the basic policies of Windows 10, which, with the exception of the static Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB), must keep relatively current to continue to be in support compliance.

While Microsoft will debut the new faster-to-update Configuration Manager this year, it won't require enterprises to adopt it until February 2016. In the meantime, Czechowski said, organizations can continue to use the 2012 version to administer Windows 10. That grace period will be permanent for those machines on, and that stay on, the Windows 10 LTSB 2015 track, but will suffice to service only the first two Current Branch (CB) builds: The original released in July and the second is expected this month, perhaps as early as next week.

By the time the third CB release rolls out, enterprises must have deployed the new Configuration Manager if they want to continue managing any Windows 10 device not assigned to the LTSB 2015 track.

"We will not extend support for further versions of Windows 10 Current Branch with ConfigMgr 2012 because we need the new System Center Configuration Manager updating model to keep pace with Windows as a service and Microsoft Intune," said Czechowski.

Adopting the new Configuration Manager and its service-style updating may be required, but that doesn't mean enterprises will have to like it.

"These are all big changes," said Terrence Cosgrove of Gartner, referring to the accelerated pace of both Windows 10 and Configuration Manager. "It will be very disruptive. They're going to have to adopt, and change processes. It is going to require major changes in how they roll out patches, and IT will have to be better at managing change and managing vendors."

Those caveats have become commonplace when industry analysts talk about corporate acceptance of Windows 10, and by association, just-as-rapid changes to the toolsets needed to manage the devices running the OS. In the end, enterprises will have to suck it up when it comes to Configuration Manager's changes, just as they must when they eventually migrate to Windows 10.

"At the end of the day, IT will have to adjust," said Young. "They will have to come to terms that this is the world we're living in."


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