Basic Components Functionality

When the scan component of the software update inventory tools runs on client computers, it creates a new class in the WMI schema for that computer named Win32_Patchstate. The scan component examines the registry of the client computer and compares the information contained there to the current catalog of known software updates from Microsoft (Mssecure.xml for security updates and Invcif.exe for Microsoft Office). When the scan component finds an update that is either installed or not yet installed but applicable, it adds an instance to the Win32_Patchstate class for that update. This information then propagates up to the SMS site database through the standard SMS hardware inventory process.

Periodically (weekly by default), the synchronization component of the software update inventory tools downloads the latest software update catalog and the latest versions of the scan components from the Microsoft Downloads center and distributes these to SMS distribution points, from which the updated components are distributed to SMS client computers.

When the administrator runs the Distribute Software Updates Wizard from the SMS Administrator console of a site server, several things happen:

  • The wizard connects to the SMS site database and obtains the latest version of the software update inventory data contained in the hardware inventory records for the type of software updates currently being managed (for example, Security or Office).

  • The wizard displays that list to the administrator, allowing the administrator to select and configure the software updates for the current package.

  • If the administrator is creating a new package, the wizard creates a package and program object for the software update type in the specified package source folder.

  • When the administrator authorizes software updates, the wizard creates a software updates installation list (PatchAuthorize.xml) and adds the information about the selected software update to this list. This list is also stored in the package source folder.

  • The wizard copies the Software Updates Installation Agent (PatchInstall.exe) to the package source folder and creates a program object that contains the configurable settings that the administrator specifies the agent should use when it installs the updates on client computers.

  • If directed by the administrator, the wizard also creates an advertisement for distributing the software update package to the specified client collection.

When the advertisement for the software update package runs on SMS client computers, the Software Updates Installation Agent runs with the configuration options that were specified by the administrator in creating the program for the package. When software updates are installed, either automatically or as requested by the user of the computer (depending on program settings), the agent first runs the scan component for the relevant software updates inventory tool to determine which of the software updates to be installed are applicable and missing from the client computer. If the destination computer is running the SMS Advanced Client, the agent can also be configured to run a local notification and scheduling process on the client computer (the persistent notification icon). For more information about this icon, see the "Software Update Management Advanced Features" section later in this chapter.

Each action taken by the Software Updates Installation Agent is logged, and it is also recorded in the form of SMS status messages. These status messages provide a near-real-time record of the compliance level of the computer with respect to the software updates that are contained in the package. In particular, software updates that have been installed, but which are not yet in effect pending a system restart, are recorded as such.

The above description covers the basic operation of the software update management components. However, several new advanced features have been added to the software update inventory tools for SMS 2003 which allow you to perform more complex tasks. These features are described in the following section.

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