Application management in Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager provides Configuration Manager administrative users and the users of Configuration Manager client devices with tools to manage applications in the enterprise. System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is built around user-centric principles. This means that the product is designed to meet the needs of administrative users and users of client devices rather than forcing them to modify their processes to suit the product. For example, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager allows you to associate users with devices, so instead of having to remember the name of a user’s device, you can now distribute software to the user as well as to the device. Applications can also be distributed based on the user’s needs without the user needing to intervene. For example, on a computer a user works on every day, you might install a local copy of an application. On a computer a user works on occasionally, you might deploy a virtual copy of the application that is then removed when the user logs off. Additionally, in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, users are given much more control over what software is installed on their devices and when it gets installed.

A device in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager refers to a computer or to a mobile device, such as a Windows phone.

Benefits for administrative users include the following:

Benefits to the user include the following:

What’s New in Configuration Manager

Applications in Configuration Manager

An application in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager contains the files and information necessary to deploy a software package to a computer or mobile device and the information about the software shared by all deployment types. Applications are similar to packages in Configuration Manager, but contain more information to support smart deployment. An application can contain a range of information about a software installation, including the following:

  • Information shared by all deployment types, such as the application name, manufacturer, and version number, as well as a description of the application as it will appear to users. This information can be displayed in the Application Catalog in different languages based on client settings.

  • Contact names of users who can supply information and provide support for the application.

  • One or more deployment types, which contain information about methods used to install or uninstall the application and the location of files required by the application.

  • Keywords and categories to help users search for items in the Application Catalog.

When you make changes to an application, a new revision of the application is created. Previous versions of the application are stored and can be retrieved at a later time.

You can also import and export applications from Configuration Manager to a file. This allows you to make a backup of an application independently from Configuration Manager or to move applications to another System Center 2012 Configuration Manager site.

Applications are configured with the Create Application Wizard in the Software Library from the Configuration Manager console. For more information, see How to Create Applications in Configuration Manager.

Deployment Types in Configuration Manager

A deployment type is contained within an application and contains details about the files, commands, and programs used to install software. It also contains rules that specify if and how the software is deployed. Deployments types are similar to programs in Configuration Manager. An application can contain multiple deployment types that each installs a package by using a different method. A single application can have multiple deployment types that use the same technology, for example a single application might have multiple Windows Installer deployment types. The following are examples of deployment types available in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager:

  • Windows Installer – Creates a deployment type from a Windows Installer file. Configuration Manager can retrieve information from the Windows Installer file to automatically populate some fields of the Create Deployment Type Wizard.

  • Script Installer – Creates a deployment type that specifies a script that will run on client devices to install content or to perform an action.

  • Microsoft Application Virtualization – Creates a deployment type from a Microsoft Application Virtualization manifest. Configuration Manager can retrieve information from the manifest file to automatically populate some fields of the Create Deployment Type Wizard.

  • Windows Mobile Cabinet – Creates a deployment type from a Windows Mobile Cabinet (CAB) file. Configuration Manager can retrieve information from the CAB file to automatically populate some fields of the Create Deployment Type Wizard.

A typical deployment type contains the following information:

  • General information about the deployment type, which will be displayed to users in the Application Catalog.

  • The installation method used by the deployment type, such as the installation program.

  • The location of any content required by the installation.

  • The detection method which is used to determine whether the application is already installed on a client device. You can use the presence of a file or folder, a registry key value, a Windows Installer product code or a custom script to detect the presence of an application.

  • The required installation command line.

  • The required uninstall command line.

  • Requirement rules that must be met for the deployment type to install.

  • Dependencies that are additional deployment types that this deployment type requires.

Deployment types are configured with the Create Deployment Type Wizard in the Software Library from the Configuration Manager console. For more information, see How to Create Deployment Types in Configuration Manager.

Requirement Rules and Global Conditions

Requirement rules allow administrative users to define one or more rules that represent business or technical conditions that specify how an application is provided and deployed on client devices.

The following are examples of requirement rules:

  • Do not install this Windows Installer deployment type on computers with less than 2 GB RAM.

  • Only deploy this virtual application deployment type to a user’s primary device.

  • Do not install this application deployment type if the client computer has less than 500 MB free disk space.

Requirement rules are evaluated by the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager client to determine the correct deployment type that will be used to install an application or whether the application and any of its deployment types will be installed. The rules are re-evaluated (by default, every seven days) to ensure compliance. The administrative user can define a custom evaluation period.

You can define requirement rules that are used by a single deployment type, or you can define global conditions that are available to use with any deployment type.

Requirement rules are configured by using the Requirements tab of the Deployment Type properties or the Requirements page of the Create Deployment Type Wizard in the Software Library. For more information, see How to Create Deployment Types in Configuration Manager.

Global conditions are configured by using the Create Global Condition dialog box in the Software Library from the Configuration Manager console. For more information, see How to Create and Manage Global Conditions in Configuration Manager.

User Device Affinity

User device affinity is a method of associating a user with specified devices. This can remove the requirement to know the names of a user’s devices when you deploy applications. You can define primary devices that are typically the device that a user uses on a daily basis to perform their work. When you create an affinity between a user and a device, this provides further options for deploying software. For example, if a user requires Microsoft Office Visio, you can install it on the user’s primary device by using a Windows Installer deployment. However, on a device that is not a primary device, you might deploy Microsoft Office Visio as an App-V virtual application. By using user device affinity, you can deploy applications to a user whilst ensuring that the application is not installed on all devices the user logs on to. You can also use user device affinity to pre-deploy software on a user’s device when the user is not logged in.

User device affinity can be defined by using any of the following methods:

  • The user specifies that the device is a primary device in the Application Catalog.

  • A file is imported containing a list of users and devices.

  • The site can be configured to automatically create user device affinities based on collected usage statistics. An administrative user can then approve the detected user device affinity.

  • An administrative user can manually create affinities.

  • During mobile device enrollment, a mobile device is associated with the user who enrolls it.

  • You can define user device affinity for a client computer during operating system deployment.

User device affinity can include the following:

  • A single user to a single device.

  • Many users to a single device.

  • A single user to many devices.

User device affinities are managed in Assets and Compliance from the Configuration Manager console. For more information, see How to Manage User Device Affinity in Configuration Manager.


Deployments in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager are used to distribute applications to users or devices in your organization. The Deploy Software Wizard allows you to specify information about the application, including the following:

  • The name of the application.

  • The Configuration Manager collection to which you want to deploy the application.

  • The distribution points or distribution point groups that will host the content associated with the application.

  • Whether the application should be installed or uninstalled.

  • The purpose of the deployment; for example, whether installation is Required or Available.

  • Scheduling information for the deployment.

  • The client notification and restart settings for the deployment.

  • Monitoring and System Center Operations Manager alert settings for the deployment.

The Deploy Software Wizard can also be used to deploy packages and programs such as those imported from Configuration Manager.

The Deploy Software Wizard in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager replaces the New Advertisement Wizard in Configuration Manager.

For more information, see How to Deploy Applications in Configuration Manager.

Deployment Purpose and Action

When you deploy an application in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can choose a deployment purpose and a deployment action that define what the deployment should do and that represent the administrator’s intent. The available settings are as follows:

  • Install and Uninstall – Specifies whether the application is installed or uninstalled on client devices.

  • Available – If the application is deployed to a user, the user sees the published application in the Application Catalog and can request it on demand. If the application is deployed to a device, the user will see it in the Software Center and can install it on demand.

  • Required – The application is deployed automatically, according to the configured schedule. However, a user can track the application deployment status and install the application before the deadline by using the Software Center.

When you specify the purpose of a user-targeted deployment, you can specify whether users need to request approval from an administrative user before they can install the application.

The purpose of a deployment is specified by using the Deploy Software Wizard in the Software Library from the Configuration Manager console. For more information, see How to Deploy Applications in Configuration Manager.

Detection Method

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager can use a number of methods to determine whether a deployment type is already present on a device. You can detect a Windows Installer product code, a file or folder or a registry value to indicate that a deployment type is present. You can also write a script in the following languages to detect whether a deployment type is present on the device:

  • PowerShell

  • VBScript

  • JScript

Detection methods are specified in the Create Deployment Type Wizard or in the properties of an existing deployment type. For more information, see How to Create Deployment Types in Configuration Manager.

Monitoring Deployments

Unlike Configuration Manager 2007, which used the separate Status Message Viewer to track the installation of software, in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can monitor the deployment of all software (software updates, compliance settings, applications, task sequences, packages and programs) by using the Monitoring in the Configuration Manager console.

Applications in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager support state-based monitoring, which allows you to track the last application deployment state for users and devices. These state messages display information about individual devices. For example, if an application is deployed to a collection of users, you can view the compliance state of the deployment and the deployment purpose in the Configuration Manager console.

An application deployment state has one of the following compliance states:

  • Success – The application deployment succeeded.

  • In Progress – The application deployment is in progress.

  • Unknown – The state of the application deployment could not be determined.

  • Requirements Not Met – The application was not deployed because it was not compliant with a dependency or a requirement rule.

  • Error – The application failed to deploy because of an error.

You can view additional information for each compliance state, which includes subcategories within the compliance state and the number of users and devices in this category. For example, the Error compliance state contains three subcategories:

  • Error evaluating policy

  • Content related errors

  • Installation Errors

When more than one compliance state applies for an application deployment to a user that has more than one device, you will see the aggregate state that represents the lowest compliance. For example, if a user logs in to two devices and the application is successfully installed on one device but fails to install on the second device, the aggregate deployment state of the application for that user displays as Error.

Use these subcategories to help you to quickly identify any important issues with an application deployment. You can also view additional information about which devices fall into a particular subcategory of a compliance state.

To monitor the status of deployments in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, click Monitoring in the navigation pane, and then click Deployments. For more information, see How to Monitor Applications in Configuration Manager.

Using Packages and Programs with Configuration Manager

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager continues to support packages and programs that were used in Configuration Manager. A deployment that uses packages and programs might be more suitable than using an application when deploying any of the following:

  • Scripts that do not install an application on a computer (such as a script to defragment the computer disk drive).

  • “One-off” scripts that do not need to be continually monitored.

  • Scripts that run on a recurring schedule and cannot use global conditions or requirement rules.

When you migrate a Configuration Manager site to a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager hierarchy, you can migrate existing packages and deploy them in your System Center 2012 Configuration Manager hierarchy. After migration is complete, your Configuration Manager packages appear in the Packages node in the Software Library. You can modify and deploy these packages in a similar way as you did by using Configuration Manager software distribution. The Import Package from Definition Wizard remains in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager for importing Configuration Manager packages. Advertisements are converted to deployments when migrated from Configuration Manager to a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager hierarchy.

Packages and programs can use some new features of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, including distribution point groups and the new monitoring functionality.To deploy a package, right-click the package name, and then click Deploy.

For more information, see Packages and Programs in Configuration Manager.

Microsoft Application Virtualization applications cannot be distributed by using packages and programs in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. To distribute virtual applications, you must create these as System Center 2012 Configuration Manager applications.

The User Experience and Configuration Manager Application Management

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is designed to give the users of client devices more control over what software is installed and when it is installed. It also helps to ensure that the software that users need to perform their work is available wherever they log in, not just on their primary device.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager contains a new client interface, the Configuration Manager Software Center. Software Center allows users to manage their own software, including the following:

  • Install software.

  • View their software request history.

  • Configure when Configuration Manager can install software on their device.

  • Configure access settings for remote control, if remote control is enabled by an administrative user.

To enable the Application Catalog on client devices to let them browse for and request software and to let them share links with other users, you must configure two new site system roles on your site:

  • Application Catalog Web service point – Provides software information from the Software Library to the Software Catalog Web site.

  • Application Catalog Web site point – Provides users with a list of available software.

The following Configuration Manager client functionality can be found in the following locations in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Software Center:

Configuration Manager 2007 System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Program Download Monitor in Control Panel

Users can view and manage program download status on the Installation Status page of the Software Center.

Run Advertised Programs in Control Panel

Users can view and install available software and schedule software installations from the Software Center.

The Configuration Manager client in Windows Control Panel remains in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to help administrative users troubleshoot problems with the client software.

See Also