Guidance using OSD with System Center Configuration Manager 2012 highlighting differences from 2007

When switching from using OSD with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to 2012 there are many changes that you should be aware. This article runs down a list of several important changes in behavior that are good to keep in mind planning your OSD strategy for System Center Configuration Manager 2012.

Now that the Configuration Manager 2012 task sequence supports 64-bit any 'Run Command Line' steps targeted for 64-bit OS's should be written for 64-bit since this is the environment they will run. This also includes referencing a Package in a 'Run Command Line' step. Note that in Configuration Manager 2012, the legacy Packages/Program node still only supports 32-bit so if Programs are used in a task sequence that targets a 64-bit OS it will still run in a 32-bit environment. It may make sense to avoid using Programs in a task sequence.

Configuration Manager 2012's new Applications node allows launching Applications from the Application Catalog even if you are NOT running as the primary console user on a system. However, this does NOT apply to task sequences or Package/Programs. If a task sequence or Package/Program is optionally targeted to a system, and (2) you are NOT the primary console user because you may have switched users after someone was already logged on, you THEREFORE will NOT be able to select the available task sequence or Package/Program from Software Center. If you would at this point reboot, and log back on you are now the primary console user and THEREFORE the available task sequences and Package/Programs will be available through Software Center.

In Configuration Manager 2012, drivers can only be imported into the root of the Drivers node which differs from Configuration Manager 2007 which allowed drivers to be imported to folders within the Drivers node.

In Configuration Manager 2007, drivers that have already been imported into the Drivers node CANNOT be imported without a workaround such as adding drivers directly to driver packages. In 2012 this behavior is changed. Drivers MUST be added to the Drivers node before being added to a driver package. Previously imported drivers (duplicates) will be imported into the Drivers node, but will remain in their original folder location if the driver has already been imported. THEREFORE when importing drivers only drivers that have not previously been imported will be displayed in the root of the Drivers node. Because of this if it is necessary to import duplicates based of your driver strategy, it’s useful to pre-create the necessary driver packages and associate the drivers to driver packages during the original import so that any duplicate drivers are added to the appropriate driver packages immediately. Another useful option is appending a new category to existing categories during the import to mark duplicates as also being connected with the newly imported driver set even though they may be located in different folder locations.

Configuration Manager 2012 will not successfully update boot images that contain unsigned boot-critical drivers. Before assigning drivers to boot images it's recommended to check all planned drivers within the Drivers node to determine whether any drivers are BOTH unsigned and boot-critical. Any drivers that meet these criteria should not be added to boot images. To determine whether planned drivers meet these criteria, check each storage driver and any other driver that may be boot-critical to determine whether it is unsigned by right-clicking Properties for the driver.

For both Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012, because of issues like the one in the last bullet when creating or making changes to boot media such as adding drivers it is recommended to first make all the necessary changes to boot images. Then once the proper changes are in place, update the boot image by right-clicking on the selected boot media and choosing Update Distribution Points. This will show an interactive GUI and provide a final summary showing confirmation that the proper configuration of the boot media has been successfully implemented.

For both Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012, when creating and distributing driver packages it's recommended after the initial Distribution is started to right-click Update Distribution Points to start a 2nd distribution which will change the driver package revision number to 2 or greater which resolves an issue accessing driver packages referenced in task sequences.  

In Configuration Manager 2012 when using USMT hardlinks a checkbox is now available in the Capture User State step which enables hardlinks and avoids having to enter the two parameters /hardlink /nocompress in the USMT parameter variable.

In summary, keeping these changes in mind will allow you to plan a better OSD strategy in Configuration Manager 2012.

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