Introducing the Application Catalog and Software Center in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Introducing the Application Catalog and Software Center in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

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System Center 2012 Configuration Manager introduces many exciting new features for deploying software that benefit both administrators and end users. With Configuration Manager, users get a consolidated view of the software status by using Software Center. In addition, users can install or request applications by using the web-based Application Catalog.

You might be wondering how the Application Catalog is different from Software Center. The Application Catalog is the user’s gateway to the available applications that they can install while Software Center helps the user track the status of available and required software, and lets users configure various options, such as their business hours to prevent their computer from restarting during their working day.

Example screenshot of the Application Catalog:

Example screenshot of Software Center:

Available applications mean that users can choose to install the software.  For these applications, you can configure them to install immediately, or prompt users to request approval from an administrator. Required applications have an installation schedule and automatically install if they are not already installed by a defined deadline.

The following table summarizes where users see their software, based on the deployment settings:

Object type

Collection resources

Deployment

Application Catalog

Software Center

Application

Users or groups

Available deployment,
does not require approval

Yes

After installation is initiated successfully from the Application Catalog

Users or groups

Available deployment,
requires approval

Yes

After the application is approved

Users or groups

Required deployment

No

Yes

Computers

Available or required deployment

No

Yes

Package and program

Users or groups

Available deployment

Yes

After installation is initiated successfully from the Application Catalog

Users or groups

Required deployment

No

Yes

Computers

Available or required deployment

No

Yes


Note that software updates and task sequences will only appear in Software Center and never in the Application Catalog.

To publish an application to the Application Catalog, create an application deployment with the purpose of Available and then deploy it to the user or user group collection.  Unless the deployment is configured to automatically upgrade previous versions of the application, computers do not receive policy for this type of deployment until the user requests to install it from the Application Catalog. This means that you can create available deployments without causing additional network packets between the computer and the management point.

When new software is available in Software Center or the application status changes, Configuration Manager notifies the user via balloons (notifications) if the software is configured to display notifications:

You can configure notifications and software appearance as follows:

For applications, the User notifications setting is in the User Experience tab in the deployment properties, as shown in the following picture.

You can choose to display the application in Software Center and also display corresponding notifications, show applications in Software Center only, or hide the application from the user’s view.

Note: Display in Software Center and show all notifications is selected by default for required and user-available deployments, while Display in Software Center, only show notifications for computer restarts is selected by default for computer-available deployments. If the users do not see notifications for an application, check that the deployment is configured correctly.

For packages and programs, the Suppress program notifications setting controls the notifications for a given program and it is in the Advanced tab of the program properties:



Note that Suppress program notifications is selected by default when you create a program in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which means that the user will not see notifications for the program.

I hope that this information helps to introduce you to some new software deployment features in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, clarifies whether users see software deployments in Software Center or the Application Catalog, and provides some tips if you don’t see the deployment notifications that you were expecting.

For more information about the Application Catalog and Software Center, see Configuring the Application Catalog and Software Center in Configuration Manager.

--Anton Varshavskiy

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

 

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  • thanks for sharing your information and posting your blogs with us. I cant easily get what this means yet, is this really applicable? I want more details about this configuration management.

  • Is there a document that explains why they chose to force the user to open two different apps to see what software was available for them to install?  Why did they use Silverlight when it is a dead product?  Why does it make since to provide a link inside the Software Center to the Application Catalog when they could have simply put the stuff right there?  What information should we send to our users regarding apps?  Hey if you don't see the app in Software Center open up the web browser to see what you can install...makes absolutely no sense...

    On the Software Center couldn't they have included a means for the user to initiate a User and Machine policy refresh with a time stamp in either the registry or user based xml file to record the last refresh, maybe even show the last time it actually checked for policy changes?  

    The interface looks much better than RAP but with just a few more features this could have been excellent.  

  • Good article

  • Thank you for the information. Very useful! I do have one question though:

    -we have an application deployed to a user collection and the user installs the application from Application Catalogue.  

    - he can then see the application as available in Software Center.

    -if the same user uninstalls the application, he can find it in Software Center with the status "no longer available".

    Is this a normal behavior or should we check further? (In my opinion, it seems normal this way since the deployment is made as available in this case so there is no reason for the application to still be in Software Center. However, the fact that it appears and has that status does not seem quite ok).

  • Great and valuable information. Thanks for making it available.

    I have a case i want to share here to get some input about if the App Catalog is the right component to use to get where I need to go.

    In the company i work for, they have a common folder available to all users with a list of available applications they can install if they have the need. All of these apps EXEs and MSIs are housed in a shared folder and through GPO and a some batch files, they get published to the end user.

    I also want to mention that those applications are available to the users even after they get installed by the user to his/her machine. For example. The user installed GChrome and later found that it does not work properly, so the GChrome installer is still available for re installation.

    As i keep reading about the Application Catalog in ConfigMgr2012, i see that I can accomplish the same goal with it and take GPOs out of the picture but there are some scenarios i am not sure if the App Catal could help me with. For example,  If an user installs an application, can that same app stay visible and available (forever) to that same computer/user for further re-installation (like on my GChrome Example)?

    Thanks.

  • Was any end user testing done with having two ways to install software? So if I push software out to a user group and also a group of computers, someone in both of those groups might have to go to two different locations in order to see all the software available to them? How does that make any sense at all?

  • tnx

  • Good info there!

  • Very useful article, but my question is how long it takes the software to be published on the Available Software list. I've noticed in our case that I need min. 12hr to see the new apps on the Available Software list, is it normal? What does this depends from, is there any way to speed up the publish process?

    Thanks,