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System Center Update Publisher: A Celebration of Life – Jan 31, 2024

by | Nov 21, 2023 | Blog

Patch lovers everywhere should mark their calendars for a time of mourning on Jan 31, 2024. This will be the day that our dearly beloved System Center Update Publisher, or SCUP as his friends called him, will transition to the great beyond. Some of you might be surprised to hear the old man was still kicking around. After a hip replacement in 2019 (blog), he was still spry and hale, if not a little cantankerous. However, Microsoft has recently moved SCUP into hospice care (docs):

Do not go gentle into that good night.

While this is an unlooked-for development, it’s not entirely surprising. While SCUP as we know it today was released in 2008, its roots go even further back to SMS 2003’s Custom Updates Publishing Tool (CUPT). Two decades is a good run for any piece of code that isn’t part of an OS kernel or COBOL.

For almost all of SCUP’s history, there’s been a call to integrate its functionality directly into the Configuration Manager console. Several years ago, the Configuration Manager product team started this work, and today, you can subscribe and consume an update catalog directly within the console (docs).

While catalog consumption wasn’t the only thing our good friend SCUP did, it was by far his most popular feature. The in-console consumption of catalogs corresponded to a change in the catalog format itself. The new v3 catalog allows administrators to subscribe to only specific product categories. Gone are the days when you needed to consume an entire driver catalog and bring SCUP’s best friend, WSUS, to its octogenarian knees.

More importantly, the in-console catalog consumption was automatable. Unlike SCUP, administrators could schedule when and how often to sync the catalog and publish the selected products. SCUP’s major failing was that it always requires human interaction to deploy updates. Be aware that in exchange for this automation, you can only publish installers signed with a trusted code signing certificate. This means you can publish an unsigned installer like 7-zip via SCUP, but it will fail when published in-console.

What will be forever missed is SCUP’s ability to author your own custom updates for line-of-business apps or modify the updates from a catalog. With the evolution of Configuration Manager’s application model, this became less of a need, but if you adamantly wanted to use the software update model to maintain a consistent user experience, that is no longer possible with the loss of our good friend.

What’s an Admin To Do?!

Most likely, nothing. First, because you’re probably not using SCUP. If you used it in the past, you have probably moved on to in-console publishing. Second, because SCUP will continue working just fine. Microsoft’s deprecation is merely a support statement, not a statement of functionality. If you plan to continue using SCUP, we highly recommend you grab the latest installer and store it away for safekeeping before it is taken down:

Farewell SCUP! We loved to hate you but will never forget the good times we had together.

What’s a Patch My PC Customer To Do?

Again, almost certainly nothing. We have a very small number of customers who purchase a subscription that only supports SCUP publishing. We have reached out to each of those customers to work with them on a way forward that suits their business needs. If they wish to continue using SCUP, we will continue to provide the catalog to do so. If they wish to move to in-console publishing, we will upgrade them to Enterprise Patch for the remainder of their subscriptions free of charge — simply email [email protected]. To view the different features between Basic and Enterprise Patch subscriptions, view the Compare Basic and Enterprise Patch page.

View Full SCUP Catalog