Configuration Manager: a progress update on the current branch and a new servicing branch

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Today, 101 years ago, the Ford Motor Company manufactured its 1 millionth Model T automobile. Thanks to our customers, we also have a reason to celebrate today as we are continuing to see an incredible adoption of our own model, the current branch of Configuration Manager. Our current branch model was designed to provide our customers with ongoing product improvements, faster updates, and timely support for new Windows releases.
Since the release of the current branch in December of 2015, over 21,000 organizations managing more than 43 million devices have transformed client management for their organizations by upgrading to Configuration Manager 1511 or later, allowing them to  keep their management tools up to date at an unprecedented rate and scale. With three current branch releases to date, the move to later versions is accelerating: more than half of these organizations have already updated to the latest version 1606. In the wake of this strong customer adoption, we are including the latest version of Configuration Manager in newly released System Center 2016 for server management, and at the same time we are introducing a new branch type.
In short, System Center Configuration Manager (version 1606) is now included with System Center 2016. Our customers can now upgrade Configuration Manager 2012/R2 directly to version 1606 of the current branch and start taking advantage of new management features, faster and easier updates, support for new Windows releases, and more. For the overwhelming majority of our customers, the current branch of Configuration Manager will be their preferred installation option, and we have seen this further validated by the upgrade momentum we noted above.
Today, we are also making available the Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) of Configuration Manager. Up until this point, if Software Assurance or equivalent subscription rights (most normally from Intune or EMS) became expired, customers, per product terms, would have to move back to the most recent release they owned perpetual rights to, e.g., System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. The LTSB of Configuration Manager now delivers an alternative option that will be supported on a fixed 10-year lifecycle, although it is important to understand the limitations inherent in a long-term serviced management product vs. the easily updatable current branch model our customers have been rapidly moving to.
While the LTSB is derived from the current branch of Configuration Manager (version 1606), it is scaled back and reduced in functionality to permit the extended support model. LTSB of Configuration Manager will not receive new functionality or support for new Windows 10 and Windows Server releases. It will continue to receive security updates only. By design, LTSB of Configuration Manager is intended to be fixed in functionality and very infrequently updated, so any features or components that require continuous updating or are tied to a cloud service have been removed. These removed features include:
  • Support for Windows 10 Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB)
  • Support for the future releases of Windows 10 LTSB and Windows Server
  • Windows 10 Servicing Dashboard and Servicing Plans
  • The ability to add a Microsoft Intune Subscription, which prevents the use of Hybrid MDM and on-premises MDM
  • Asset Intelligence
  • Cloud-based Distribution Point
  • Support for Exchange Online as an Exchange Connector
  • Any pre-release features available in the current branch of Configuration Manager
Based on the strong adoption of the current branch of Configuration Manager, positive feedback from our customers, and the future of Windows and the industry in general shifting to more frequent and smaller updates, we highly recommend our customers continue upgrading to the current branch of Configuration Manager. We expect that for the overwhelming majority of you this is the best model and approach of delivering an up to date management offering.
Configuration Manager (version 1606) can be downloaded from Volume Licensing Service Center (search for “System Center Config”). It can also be downloaded from Microsoft Evaluation Center and MSDN. The setup process of Configuration Manager (version 1606) allows you to choose to install either the current branch or LTSB.

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