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System Center 2012 Configuration Manager introduces many exciting new features for deploying software that benefit both administrators and end users. With Configuration Manager, users get a consolidated view of the software status by using Software Center. In addition, users can install or request applications by using the web-based Application Catalog.

You might be wondering how the Application Catalog is different from Software Center. The Application Catalog is the user’s gateway to the available applications that they can install while Software Center helps the user track the status of available and required software, and lets users configure various options, such as their business hours to prevent their computer from restarting during their working day.

Example screenshot of the Application Catalog:

Example screenshot of Software Center:

Available applications mean that users can choose to install the software.  For these applications, you can configure them to install immediately, or prompt users to request approval from an administrator. Required applications have an installation schedule and automatically install if they are not already installed by a defined deadline.

The following table summarizes where users see their software, based on the deployment settings:

Object type

Collection resources

Deployment

Application Catalog

Software Center

Application

Users or groups

Available deployment,
does not require approval

Yes

After installation is initiated successfully from the Application Catalog

Users or groups

Available deployment,
requires approval

Yes

After the application is approved

Users or groups

Required deployment

No

Yes

Computers

Available or required deployment

No

Yes

Package and program

Users or groups

Available deployment

Yes

After installation is initiated successfully from the Application Catalog

Users or groups

Required deployment

No

Yes

Computers

Available or required deployment

No

Yes

Note that software updates and task sequences will only appear in Software Center and never in the Application Catalog.

To publish an application to the Application Catalog, create an application deployment with the purpose of Available and then deploy it to the user or user group collection.  Unless the deployment is configured to automatically upgrade previous versions of the application, computers do not receive policy for this type of deployment until the user requests to install it from the Application Catalog. This means that you can create available deployments without causing additional network packets between the computer and the management point.

When new software is available in Software Center or the application status changes, Configuration Manager notifies the user via balloons (notifications) if the software is configured to display notifications:

You can configure notifications and software appearance as follows:

For applications, the User notifications setting is in the User Experience tab in the deployment properties, as shown in the following picture.

You can choose to display the application in Software Center and also display corresponding notifications, show applications in Software Center only, or hide the application from the user’s view.

Note: Display in Software Center and show all notifications is selected by default for required and user-available deployments, while Display in Software Center, only show notifications for computer restarts is selected by default for computer-available deployments. If the users do not see notifications for an application, check that the deployment is configured correctly.

For packages and programs, the Suppress program notifications setting controls the notifications for a given program and it is in the Advanced tab of the program properties:

Note that Suppress program notifications is selected by default when you create a program in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which means that the user will not see notifications for the program.

I hope that this information helps to introduce you to some new software deployment features in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, clarifies whether users see software deployments in Software Center or the Application Catalog, and provides some tips if you don’t see the deployment notifications that you were expecting.

For more information about the Application Catalog and Software Center, see Configuring the Application Catalog and Software Center in Configuration Manager.

Anton Varshavskiy

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.