Supersedence and how it is not a feature

Image result for configuration manager logoSupersedence was supposedly a great new feature for ConfigMgr 2012 (released in… you guessed it..) that was part of the Application Model. App-model held so many promises, however it was actually quite broken until a few service packs and fixes down the road. There are still quite a few defects that just are “known” by people and adds to the general feeling of ConfigMgr beeing complex.

After a twitter-rant on how Microsoft view their support organisation (and anyone paying / using it) as a third-class citizien with no rights – apart from beeing the therapist for whatever sysadmin is on the other end of the call – I became sort of frustrated that the sixth most top voted Uservoice item, something that I previously raised support calls within their organisation aswell as spent better part of a week (at Microsoft Seattle campus) ranting about this specific defect to just about anyone who potentially could reach the actual Product-Caretaker to fix the issue. Microsoft may spring out shiny new things – but it honestly sucks at fixing its products. If its broken – it’s still just plain broken. And even when its fixed – noone tells you its fixed apart from during watercooler talk.

How long has supersedence been broken? Since 2012

Update 2017-12-18:
ConfigMgr TechPreview 1712 was released with a specific fix that would potentially aim to resolve test 1 and 2. If you are on a support agreement it seems that potentially you could drop it and only relay requests via UserVoice.

What is the scenario?

So, a few things to get the setup of what the actual defect is. Supersedence is the intent to connect two Applications within ConfigMgr and inform the system how it should replace the older one/ones. For the defect to show itself the following has to be inplace;

  • Application has to be deployed (directly / indirectly) as Available
  • Application can be targeted to users / computers
  • Application made Available has to replace a previous old version that is installed on the given impacted client

FoxDeploy (Stephen Owen) wrote a great article that sets up the premise for the defect, however as far as I understand his target environment deals only with users (or user collection targeted deployments).  Apart from really sharing a few thoughts, creating a very popular UserVoice-item there are somethings that needs to be retested (previous extensive confirmation of this defect was in the ConfigMgr 2012 era – both for myself and FoxDeploy) with the newer versions of ConfigMgr.

There is no release statement from Microsoft that this has been altered, fixed or improved upon as far as the eye can see.

Based on the above we can also conclude that this is not relevant if;

  • All deployments are Required
  • Supersedence is not used
  • Older versions, now beeing replaced, are not installed on any endpoints


We will retry the following tests on a ConfigMgr 1702 site. Neither 1706 and 1710 has introduced anything remotely closing to fixing this behaviour and all rumours that people have heard about previous fixes have been pre-CurrentBranch.

Applications used while testing


Test 1

  • Application (Adobe Reader DC 18) will supersed an older version (Adobe Reader DC 17)  before creating the deployment
  • A deployment will be created that targets our specific computer that has Adobe Reader DC 17 installed
  • Deployment will target a computer collection
  • Deployment will be set to be made available


When creating the deployment the following new check-boxes will become painfully obvious for the administrator. Pay attention, and ConfigMgr will tell you exactly how you are about to wreak havoc within the environment. Despite that you are saying – please just offer this as a nice-to-have-thingy – there is a greyed out check-box that indicates that a required deployment is technically beeing created.


When setting the date/time the deployment will be available – this becomes even more painfully obvious that you are infact creating a required deployment


As you might have guessed – as soon as the client receives this new policy – Adobe Acrobat Reader DC 17 is upgraded to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC 18.

Consistent with ConfigMgr 2012 in 2012

Test 2

  • Application (Adobe Reader DC 18) will supersed an older version (Adobe
    Reader DC 17)  after creating the deployment
  • A deployment will be created that targets our specific computer that
    has Adobe Reader DC 17 installed
  • Deployment will target a computer collection
  • Deployment will be set to be made available


As you can imagine the wizard while creating the deployment as Available does not present any information regarding supersedence (as that relationship between the two applications does not exist yet)


After creating the supersedence relationship and then opening the properties for the specific Available deployment the following reveals itself. Same as when Foxdeploy concluded the testing early 2016.


The scheduling leaves no schedule set for when supersedence should be run.


For a brief moment on the client the two versions will reveal themselves


Unlike Foxdeploys testing (that were targeted for user collections) – the upgrade will still occur and now its running on the schedule that you can not control. At the latest of the next Application Evaluation cycle – the upgrade will take place.

Consistent with ConfigMgr 2012 in 2012

Test 3

  • Application (Adobe Reader DC 18) will supersed an older version (Adobe
    Reader DC 17) before deployment is created
  • The application themselves will not be deployed, but a Task Sequence containing one step installing Adobe Reader DC 18 will be made available.
  • A deployment (for the task sequence) will be created that targets our specific computer that
    has Adobe Reader DC 17 installed
  • Deployment will target a computer collection
  • Deployment will be set to be made available

Contents of Task Sequence



As the task sequence only contains the step to install the one specific application there is no possibility to select that this would be available for PXE-only or other options than the ConfigMgr-client. The Task Sequence is still set to only be available. Per my experience it is also recommended to set the Available time back 1h (or 1 day) to get fairly instant results, otherwise you need to wait a bit before the client start processing the information.


As per the hallway chatter this seems to be resolved and the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC 18 does not cause an automatic upgrade.

Not consistent with ConfigMgr 2012 in 2012


What have we learnt? Well – anything that depends on supersedence will have a required deployment instead of an available deployment. There are of course three options to deal with this and they are as follows

  • Script it. Powershell Application Deployment Toolkit offers great ways todo this with control.
  • Set up the supersedence relationship, and then create the available deployment and alter the time for the supersedence from ASAP to a date far far into the future. Perhaps so far that you will not be handling the site any more.
  • Follow FoxDeploys guidance for user deployments and create the deployment, and then the supersedence relationship.




ConfigMgr – Howto generate an inbox-backlog

Ever wondered how someone can generate an enormous inbox-backlog for a Configuration Manager site? Apart from not scaling the environment correctly based on the performance of the infrastructure and the number of clients and features its servicing – here are a two methods to bring pretty much everything to a halt.

Server Groups

Server Groups is a feature not yet released for production. It became available in ConfigMgr 1606 and has been worked on since. As one can check it is required to be enabled from Updates and Servicing under Administration in the Feature list, however its been toggled ‘On’ in a number of sites where noone has actively thought about using this feature. Perhaps its toggled on per default?


There are a great number of write-ups by independt specialists aswell as an extensive Microsoft documentation.

The Server Group is defined per collection, and there are a few safeguards in place to avoid harm – for example you can’t se this on the generic ConfigMgr collections – such as the All systems


Any other collection, regardless of how many members it has, can toggle this on.


Locating these collections that are enabled for Server Groups is fairly easy by simplying recursively searching for all collections that has Server Groups to Yes – check the Server Group search criteria.



Create the backlog

The intent is to control Software Updates and in what order they are applied. If Server Group is enabled for a collection with all (or many devices) and these devices have deadline for a Software Update set – things will happen directly after these deadlines. Each client will effectively send a status update regarding patching status roughly once every 5 minutes (or each minute?)

Now, watch that backlog go…

Relationships – Dependency or Supersedence

Deeply burried with a side-note on howto create Dependencies within a Configuration Manager application is the following limit specified;

In some cases, a deployment type is dependent on a deployment type that also contains dependencies. In this scenario, where a chain of dependencies exists, the maximum number of supported dependencies in the chain is five.
Source: Technet¨

After effective testing the following is concluded – this isn’t a hard-limit that measures the limit of 5 level deep dependency chain – but rather a complete halt of so many things when its to  ‘complex’ and ‘to large’. Or – its not the exact number of 5 that is the limit but rather that depending on loads of factors (complexity of application object, how many, how deep etc)  this will eventually generate a failure of the handling within the Configuration Client or simply to many status messages sent. Also – the limit is very applicable for supersedence.

A chain of 5 dependencies or supersedences is a very good estimate for when things will function, and beyond that you are at the mercy of luck and testing to see if things work.

What adds payload and therefore risk of failure?

  • Requirements
  • Detections
  • Conditions
  • Dependencies
  • Many levels of dependency
  • Supersedence
  • Many levels of supersedence

The more you have of the above the more has to be evaluated and processed. As a consultant I have learned the hardway to avoid using the ‘always’, ‘never’ etc. Usually time is saved if dependencies and supersedence is limited in use. Wrap it in whatever preferred scripting language you have.

Now, if you have neatly packaged and deployed all versions of Java or Adobe for the last 2-3 years – there should be quite a few versions available within ConfigMgr. Using supersedence this is a great way to start generating that backlog;

Create the backlog

Create the latest version and ensure you replace about 8 previous versions in the first level. After the first level there should be roughly 7 deeper levels for each one in the first level. Something in the lines of


Aim to deploy the application to any collection that contains many devices and watch that backlog start creeping up…

Why create this havoc?

The intent is not to teach novice users howto wreak havoc within an environment, but rather what potentially could cause a backlog in the ConfigMgr processing and howto identify ill advised practices within a company.