Support for System Center Configuration Manager current branch versions and Servicing Update

With seven Cumulative Updates (CU’s) for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 released to date, and more on the way, we thought now would be a good time to revisit and clarify our servicing strategy.

New CU’s ship approximately every quarter. The “release timer” starts with the General Availability date of a new product, or the date the previous CU shipped. We maintain a flexible release schedule to accommodate customer demand and improve coordination with internal teams. This helps us to improve the quality of the end product.

Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager is in development now, and expected to ship in the 2nd quarter of calendar year 2014.

Each CU is considered a large hotfix. Therefore, the general guidance is to install it if you are encountering, or believe you may encounter, one of the issues fixed by current CU (or a prior one).  However, a CU also represents a new servicing baseline; In the event we release a critical on-demand hotfix for Configuration Manager it will require the latest released CU be installed first. This doesn’t happen often, but may affect your test and deployment strategy.

Our Cumulative Updates are truly cumulative; SP1 CU4 contains all of the fixes from SP1 CU1 through CU3. You do not need to install them in sequence, only install the latest.

From a servicing perspective, consider System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager as two separate products. In other words there is no dependency between SP1 CUs and R2 CUs, and SP1 CUs are not a prerequisite for R2 CUs.  There may be issues common to both SP1 and R2, and if so we will document any fixes as needed.

Microsoft plans to release updates for System Center Configuration Manager current branch a few times per year with each update version supported for twelve (12) months from its general availability (GA) release date. Technical support will be provided for the entire twelve (12) months. However, our support structure is now dynamic, evolving into two distinct servicing phases that depend on the availability of the latest current branch version.

  • Security and Critical Updates servicing phase – When running the latest current branch version of Configuration Manager, you will receive both Security and Critical updates.
  • Security Updates (Only) servicing phase – After a new current branch version is released, support for older branches will reduce to Security updates only for the remainder of the twelve (12) month support lifecycle (shown in figure 1).

Figure 1. Example of current branch servicing support.

System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note
The latest current branch version is always in the Security and Critical Updates servicing phase. This means that in the event that you encounter a code defect that warrants a critical update, you must have the latest current branch version installed in order to receive a fix. All other supported current branch versions will only be eligible to receive security updates. All support ends after the twelve (12) month lifecycle for a current branch version has expired. At that time, customers must update to a supported current branch version.

Version History

Version Availability Date Support End Date
1511 12/8/2015 12/8/2016
1602 3/11/2016 3/11/2017