What’s new in Configuration Manager 2012 R2

I won’t go into great detail of what’s new since it’s fully outlined in detail at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn236351.aspx

And here’s the latest documentation library, newly updated for 2012 R2 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg682041.aspx

However, some of the more welcome and exciting new features for me are:

  • New ‘Certificate registration point” role provides certificate enrollment for devices that Configuration Manager manages.
  • A new Resultant Client Settings option allows you to view the effective client settings that will be applied to the selected device.
  • Ability to reassign clients, including managed mobile devices, to another primary site in the hierarchy, individually or in bulk.
  • Wipe and retire functions now include the option to only remove company content from devices.
  • Deployment of remote connection profiles that allow users to remotely connect to work computers from the company portal, when they are not connected to the domain or if they are connected over the Internet.
  • Deployment of user and device certificates for managed devices by using the Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) for Wi-Fi and VPN connections on iOS, Windows 8.1, RT 8.1, and Android.
  • Deployment of root certification authority (CA) certificates and intermediate CA certificates, so that devices can create a chain of trust when they use server authentication for network connections
  • Deployment of Wi-Fi profiles that provision devices with the settings and certificates that they need to access corporate Wi-Fi hotspots on on iOS, Windows 8.1, RT 8.1, and Android.
  • New maintenance window dedicated for software updates installation.
  • You can now change the deployment package for an existing automatic deployment rule.
  • You can now preview software updates that meet the property filters and search criteria that you define in an automatic deployment rule.
  • Web applications – a new deployment type that allows you to deploy a shortcut to a web-based app on users’ devices.
  • Support for boot images based on Windows PE 3.1.
  • Virtual hard disk management which allows you to create and modify virtual hard disks, and upload them to Virtual Machine Manager.
  • New task sequence steps (For more information about task sequence steps, see Task Sequence Steps in Configuration Manager):
    • Run PowerShell Script
    • Check Readiness
    • Set Dynamic Variables
    • SMSTSDownloadRetryCount
    • SMSTSDownloadRetryDelay
    • TSErrorOnWarning
    • _TSAppInstallStatus
  • Pull-distribution points support the prioritization of their source distribution points.
  • Pull-distribution points push status for completed actions to the site server (instead of distmgr having to poll each Pull DP periodically).
  • From the Distribution Status node in the Monitoring workspace of the Configuration Manager console, you can cancel distributions that are in progress to a distribution point, and redistribute distributions that have failed.  SWEET!
  • You can use the new built-in report named Distribution point usage summary to view details about how individual distribution points are utilized, including how many unique clients access the distribution point, and how much data transfers from the distribution point.  REALLY SWEET!
  • Clients that use Windows BranchCache to download content and that have a download interrupted now resume the download where it left off, without having to restart the download from the beginning.  NICE!
  • These additional (and very exciting!)
  • optimizations are introduced to improve performance during deployment of content:
    • Each time Configuration Manager transfers content to a distribution point, it calculates the speed of the transfer. During subsequent content deployment, this information is used to prioritize which distribution points receive content first. This is done to maximize the number of distribution points that receive content in the shortest period of time.
    • To improve concurrent distributions, when Configuration Manager validates content on distribution points, it validates up to 50 files during each WMI call to a distribution point. Prior to R2, we used a single WMI call to a distribution point to validate each individual file.
  • Reports are now fully enabled for role-based administration. The data for all reports included with Configuration Manager is filtered based on the permissions of the administrative user who runs the report. Administrative users with specific roles can only view information defined for their roles.

<Uber Important Stuff!!!>

Be sure to read through the planning article and notes at http://technet.microsoft.com/library/gg682075.aspx to understand interoperability behaviors between ConfigMgr versions if you’ll be running mixed versions.  Your ConfigMgr 2012 hierarchy must be running a minimum of 2012 SP1 in order to upgrade to 2012 R2.

Then read the planning to upgrade to 2012 R2 article at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/jj822981.aspx#BKMK_PlanningR2Upgrade.  There is a nice R2 upgrade checklist there that you should follow prior to upgrade, which includes testing the upgrade process against a copy of your site database, disabling any database replicas, disabling 3 specific site maintenance tasks, etc.

Remember, uninstalling Service Packs or R2 is not supported, so make sure you don’t rush through it and you’ve completed the recommended actions on the checklist!

Avoid a replication issue if you have a CAS and have used PullDPs: To avoid this issue, if you have downloaded the R2 bits prior to 11/26/2013, re-download the R2 bits.  More info on this one is available at: http://blogs.technet.com/b/configmgrteam/archive/2013/11/26/replication-errors-in-system-center-2012-r2-configuration-manager.aspx

Post R2 hotfixes of importance:

Slow OSD WIM downloads issue or WDS Service failures when enabling a boot image for PXE enabled Distribution Point: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2905002.

This post R2 hotfix has the usual prompts allowing you to create update packages for the administrator console, client, and site server.  However, the administrator console .exe version does not change when installing this post R2 hotfix.  Therefore, in order to detect if the adminconsole flavor of the hotfix is installed, you can query on the version # of CreateTsMediaAdm.dll or look for ConfigMgr2012AdminUI-R2-KB2905002-I386 in ARP.  This hotfix will update the client version to 5.00.7958.1101.

Computer variables defined for imported computers are not being picked up during Task Sequence execution: http://support.microsoft.com/KB/2907591.

This post R2 hotfix updates policypv.dll to 5.0.7958.1103 and is required on site servers and on servers where you have the SMS provider installed.

</Uber Important Stuff!!!>

If you’re close to or above 100,000 clients, have an above average amount of politics, or just enjoy extra complexity and therefore have a CAS, start the process on the CAS and work your way down the hierarchy.  Otherwise, just upgrade your stand-alone primary and you’re done.

Now that you’re drooling over all the new features you’re about to get which will make your life easier and more complete, let’s get on with the fun part!

The 2012 R2 Upgrade Process…

Step 1:  Uninstall Windows 8 ADK (Shows as 8.59.225584 in Programs and Features)

Step 2:  Download Windows 8.1 ADK from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39982.   If you have more than one site server to upgrade, select the option to Download for installation on a separate computer.  This will save you some time on the remaining site servers.  Otherwise, if you’re lucky and only have one site server, select the option to Install the ADK to this computer.


Step 3: Select Deployment Tools, Windows PE, and USMT and click ‘Install’.


Once the ADK installation is complete, run the splash.hta within the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 ISO.

The next few screens should be pretty self explanatory, so I’ll safe you some bandwidth and forgo going into to much detail.  However, I have pasted them below for your reference so you will know what to expect during a smooth R2 installation – which I’m sure you will have!



The product key is the same product key you entered during your Configuration Manager 2012 installation, unless you’re installing the evaluation edition.




If you are installing the R2 upgrade to more than one site server, be sure to download the required files to a UNC path so you can re-use them on the next site server upgrade.





The prerequisite check will run, and if your SQL installation isn’t local, it will remind you of the importance of reserving a minimum of 4GB for a secondary site SQL database and 8GB for a primary site SQL database.  Hopefully you have already done this recommendation during your initial site database installation.  If not, make sure it’s on the top of your to-do list!

Be sure to resolve any other critical issues that may come up during this check.  If you have any site roles running on a server in an untrusted domain, you’ll likely see some warnings about not being able to pre-check those servers, but they won’t prevent you from proceeding.



Once completed, you’ll have a nice stack of green checkmarks, or if upgrading a Primary site, for a period of time you’ll likely see some green checkmarks, and some blue arrows in a circle.  Monitor sitecomp.log to see any additional site roles on remote servers being upgraded, and if you haven’t closed this dialog, you’ll notice that eventually all the blue arrows in circles turn into green checkmarks.


For an extra-extra confirmation, click the ‘View Log’ button, and you’ll see a log entry letting you know that your site upgrade completed without any issues.


Repeat this same process for any primary sites you might have until all of your sites are completely upgraded.

Once all sites are upgraded, upgrade any stand-alone ConfigMgr Admin consoles.  The Admin Console on each site server will be automatically upgraded, so you can use these to check things out after the upgrade.  The new R2 site version number to know is 5.00.7958.1000.

Allow some time for your site resets to complete and any DRS replication to resume normal operations, and check out your Monitoring section in your shiny new admin console to insure things are replicating and happy.  Don’t be alarmed if your DRS monitoring link state shows “Link Degraded” for a little while.  I recommend waiting a good 15-30 minutes to allow DRS to get caught up before starting to worry.  Monitor your rcmctrl.log on each site server, and rcm.box inboxes to watch the BCP processing the cab files process and to verify replication is resuming normally.

If you have Automatic Client Upgrades enabled, clients will automatically upgrade to the new R2 client version within the number of days you have this feature set for.  If not, you will need to push out the new client version out using SCUP or by creating a package using the content from the Configuration Manager Client Package which was automatically updated and distributed to your DPs after the upgrade process.

To upgrade all your remote administrator consoles, you can use the following Collection query:

select SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceID, SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceType, SMS_R_SYSTEM.Name, SMS_R_SYSTEM. SMSUniqueIdentifier, SMS_R_SYSTEM. ResourceDomainORWorkgroup, SMS_R_SYSTEM.Client from SMS_R_System inner join SMS_G_System_SoftwareFile on SMS_G_System_SoftwareFile.ResourceID = SMS_R_System.ResourceId inner join SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS on SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS.ResourceId = SMS_R_System.ResourceId where SMS_G_System_SoftwareFile.FileVersion < “5.0.7958.1000″ and SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS.DisplayName = “System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Console”


Enjoy all the new features!!!

Original article can be found at technet.