SCCM Application Groups – A ConfigMgr TP 1905 Feature

Last week we saw the release of SCCM technical preview 1905. One of the new feature introduced was SCCM Application groups. Let’s explore what are application groups and how do you create them in SCCM.

Using Application Groups, you add a group of applications and send to a user or device collection as a single deployment. In addition to that you can order the apps in the group so that the client installs them in a specific order.

This feature is really useful when you want to deploy multiple applications to a device collection. Instead of deploying each app individually, you can now create an application group, add apps and deploy using SCCM.

It’s interesting to know what users see in the Software Center. The metadata you specify about the application group is seen in Software Center as a single entity.

This reminds me of a feature introduced in SCCM 1802, where you can install multiple applications using software center.

Note – The Application Groups feature is a part of technical preview release 1905. This feature is not available in current branch version yet. Therefore remember that you can test this feature in your technical preview lab setup and find out how it works.

During my testing I noticed that Application Groups feature is still not ready because of the below listed issues.

  • If you deploy the application groups to a device collection as Available, it doesn’t show up in Software Center. You have to deploy the application group as required, without user interaction, and to a device collection.
  • Another issue is the deployment of an application group doesn’t show in the Deployments node of the Monitoring workspace.

The above listed issues could be fixed in the upcoming release, so for now you may try the app group feature keeping above points in mind.

Create SCCM Application Group

To create an Application Group in SCCM

  • Launch the SCCM Console.
  • Click Software Library > Overview > Application Management > Application Groups.
  • Right click Application Groups and click Create Application Group.

Create Application Groups

Specify some basic information about the application group. Click Next.

SCCM Application Groups

Click Next.

SCCM Application Groups

Add applications to the group. I am not sure what is the maximum number of apps that you can add to an application group. For now I am testing this feature by adding just 3 simple apps. Click OK and then Next.

Add applications to group

Click Next and on completion page, click Close.

Complete the wizard

Right click the Application Group and click Deploy.

Deploy Application Group

Select the device collection to which you want to target the app group. In the next step ensure you select the purpose as Required.

Complete the remaining steps and on completion page click Close.

Deployment Settings - Select purpose as RequiredOn the client machine, let’s test the deployment.

Since we deployed the application group as required, the apps are installed silently and we just see icons on the desktop.

To troubleshoot the SCCM application groups deployment, make a note of these two important log files – AppGroupHandler.log and AppEnforce.log. Both these log files are located on the client machine.

The below screenshot is of AppGroupHandler.log file. As mentioned earlier, the apps are installed in a sequential order. You can configure the install order by editing the application group.

AppGroupHandler.log

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Rodderix
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Rodderix

Which would be the difference with a task sequence where you can also install a group of applications in the order you need and deploy it to a device collection? Is there any extra benefit?

Nick
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Nick

Seems unnecessary when you can deploy apps to a collection (similar to the new application group) and then add other collections or devices to the application collection… Once you have that setup it’s easy enough to sort.

Still, I guess more options can be good?

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