Software Center is getting close to awesome!

It’s almost been too long ago since I’ve done my latest post about Software Center. Luckily there are enough reasons introduced with Configuration Manager, version 1806,  to devote another blog post to Software Center, as Software Center is getting close to awesome. Yes, I deliberately say close to awesome, as we always need to leave options open for improvement. In this post I’ll focus on three great new additions to Software Center: 1) infrastructure improvements, 2) a custom tab and 3) maintenance windows.

No more application catalog website point and web service point required

Let’s start with the first and, in my opinion, best improvement related to Software Center. Starting with Configuration Manager, version 1806, available user-targeted apps can be made available in Software Center without using the application catalog website point and the application web service point. Both of these roles are no longer required. Software Center now relies on management points to get the information about available user-targeted apps. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality.

I’ve removed both of the mentioned roles. To completely clean up the configuration, especially from a Software Center perspective, also the Open the Application Catalog web site link must be removed (or actually be hidden) from Software Center. Otherwise it will still show a gray unneeded text. To achieve this, simply follow the next four steps.

1 Open the Configuration Manager administration console and navigate to Administration > Overview > Client Settings;
2 Now either open/create a new Custom Client Device Settings and select the Software Center section, or open open the Default Client Settings and select the Software Center section;
3 In the Software Center section, select Yes with Select these new settings to specify company information and click Customize with Software Center settings to open the Software Center Customization dialog box;
4

SC_Customization-GeneralOn the Software Center Customization dialog box, select the General tab and provide at least the following information;

  • Select Hide Application Catalog link in Software Center;

Note: In my example I’ve only selected to hide the Application Catalog link. Below is an example of the link in Software Center that will be removed. I deliberately left the link, to show that it’s not a link anymore and to show what will be removed;

SC_InstallationStatus

Custom configurable tab available for linking to a webpage

The second, also pretty good, improvement, is the ability to add a custom tab to Software Center. The administrator can define a name for the custom tab and the administrator can specify a URL that should be opened in the custom tab. It can be an internal webpage and an external webpage. The latter option would of course require an Internet connectivity. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality. To achieve this, simply follow the next four steps.

1 Open the Configuration Manager administration console and navigate to Administration > Overview > Client Settings;
2 Now either open/create a new Custom Client Device Settings and select the Software Center section, or open open the Default Client Settings and select the Software Center section;
3 In the Software Center section, select Yes with Select these new settings to specify company information and click Customize with Software Center settings to open the Software Center Customization dialog box;
4

SC_Customization-TabsOn the Software Center Customization dialog box, select the Tabs tab and provide at least the following information;

  • Select Specify a custom tab for Software Center;
  • Tab name: Provide a custom name;
  • Content URL: Provide a valid URL;

Note: In my example the custom tab is named Contact and it refers to the contact page of my blog. An example of the user experience is shown below.

SC_CustomTab

Next scheduled maintenance window is shown

The third improvement is a little bit smaller, but can provide really useful information to the end-user. The third improvement is the availability of the next available maintenance window within Software Center. Previously this required a little bit of custom scripting, but now the information is available within the Upcoming section of the Installation status tab in Software Center. This also implies that the agent must be updated to provide the new functionality.

SC_InstallationStatus

More information

More information about what’s new related to Software Center in the latest current branch version, please refer to this article about What’s new in version 1806 of Configuration Manager current branch – Software Center.

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