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Configuration Manager Support Center – a first look

A few days ago Microsoft has released a new tool called the SC2012 Configuration Manager Support Center. This post describes the installation steps and some findings and experiences while test driving this new tool in a lab environment.

Installation

Before beginning the installation make sure the .Net Framework 4.5 has been installed. You can download it here.

After extracting the content we downloaded from Microsoft Connect there are 3 files:

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There are a few known issues with the current beta release, so I recommend reading the releases notes first to learn about them. Run the cmsupportcenter.msi with administrative permissions and walk through the installation wizard as follows:

  1. Click Next on the welcome screen.
  2. Accept the License Agreement and click Next.
  3. Choose a Setup Type, I opted for the Typical setup.
  4. Click Install to start the installation.
  5. Click Finish when the installation is complete.

Upon successful installation the following items are listed in the start menu:

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Support Center Features

This is what Support Center looks like when launching it:

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Notice that we are connected to the local host. Through the menu options there is also the possibility to connect to a remote machine. You will need to specify the hostname of the machine and optionally also any required credentials.

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Now lets walk through all the available tabs.

First tab is the data collection tab. When clicking the start collection button the tool starts gathering information from the client system. The data gathering process only takes about a minute to complete. At that point you will be prompted to save the data (in a .zip file).

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We can use the second utility Support Center Viewer to analyze the zip file. More information on this later in this post.

Second tab in the Client Details tab. The only option available here is to load or refresh the data. This tab just gives an overview of some basic client information:

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The third tab is the Client Policy tab. Here you have the options to load the local client policy, request and/or evaluate the policy and the capability to listen for policy events. If you enable the listener you can flip open the bottom pane for more details.

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The fourth tab is related to Content on the client. Similar to the policies we also have the option to load or refresh the data. This tab gives us details about what has been deployed to the client. In the example below we see detailed information on one of our lab applications.

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Next tab we can explore is the Troubleshooting tab. Upon clicking the Start Troubleshooting button a series of tests is conducted.

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Once the tests are complete you can individually select each one and click the view log button to see more detailed information about the test. The example below is taken from the step that verifies Client Registration.

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The last tab is the troubleshooting tab. Here we can open log files for further analysis. The functionality here seems similar to the CMTrace utility. There are search and filter options and also highlighting of specific entries.

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The tool also includes the capability to modify the client logging configuration and to open groups of log files related to a specific troubleshooting area.  There are 3 groups: Application Management, Client Registration and Policy.

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Support Center Viewer

Using the Support Center Viewer utility we can analyze the results from the data collection we did earlier. When launching the utility it will immediately show a dialog box to browse to the .zip file saved earlier. It shows detailed information on the Client Configuration and the System and allows further analysis of the logs files that were retrieved.

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That concludes the first test drive of this new utility in our lab. Although I only had a chance to look at all the features at a glance I am sure this will be a helpful utility during future troubleshooting.

Until next time!

Tim

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