Deploy Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade using SCCM

Benoit LecoursSCCMLeave a Comment

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This blog post will cover all the tasks needed to deploy the new SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade. We will cover scenarios for new and existing computers that you may want to upgrade.

Microsoft published the Windows 10 21H1feature update on VLSC on October 20th. This is the first Windows 10 feature update following the new naming convention. From now on, the new Windows 10 release will be called “Windows 10 version 21H1” (instead of “Windows 10 version 2004”).

If you haven’t planned your Windows 7 migration to Windows 10, this post will help prepare your SCCM Server to deploy Windows 10 21H1. You may also need to deploy Windows 10 21H1 to your existing Windows 10 computer to stay supported or to benefits from the new features.

Before deploying a new Windows 10 feature upgrade, you need to have a good plan. Test it in a lab environment, deploy it to a limited group and test all your business applications before broad deployment. Do not treat a feature upgrade as normal monthly software updates. Treat it as a new operating system as if you were upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10.

You can also follow our complete Windows 10 Deployment blog post series if you’re unfamiliar with the whole upgrade process.

Table of Content

Prerequisite SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade

SCCM Version

You need at least SCCM 2103 in order to support it as a Windows 10 client. See the following support matrix if you’re running an outdated SCCM version and make sure to update your site.

SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade

At the time of this writing, the SCCM Support Matrix hasn’t been updated. We’ll update the post as soon as they do

Windows ADK

At the time of this writing, the ADK Support Matrix hasn’t been updated. We’ll update the post as soon as they do.

SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade

Before capturing and deploying a Windows 10 21H1 image, make sure that you’re running a supported version of the Windows ADK. Windows recommends using the Windows ADK that matches the version of Windows you’re deploying. If you’re already running an ADK version on your SCCM server, see our post on how to install a new version.

Download Windows 10 21H1 ISO

In order to deploy Windows 10 21H1 using SCCM to a new device, we need to download the .ISO file. To get the ISO file, you can either download it from MSDN or VLSC.

  • In the portal, find Windows 10 (business editions), Version 21H1
  • Select the architecture and language, Click on Download
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • Save the ISO file on your SCCM file repository

Mount and Extract Windows 10 21H1 ISO

Before you can import the Operating System into SCCM, mount and extract the Windows 10 ISO to a folder on your SCCM File repository.

We like to save all the SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade content in one folder for the full operating system (Ex: Win10-21H1-FullMedia) and extract the Install.wim file from the \Sources folder to another directory. (Ex:Win10-21H1-Wim). You’ll understand why later in this guide.

Upgrade Strategy – Task Sequence, Servicing Plan, Feature Update, Enablement Package?

In order to upgrade an existing Windows 10 to Windows 21H2, you have 4 choices: You can use an upgrade Task Sequence, Servicing Plans, Feature Update or Enablement Package.

For brand new computers Windows 10 deployment, Task Sequences are the only option.

Task Sequences are customizable: You can run pre-upgrade and post-upgrade tasks which could be mandatory if you have any sort of customization to your Windows 10 deployments. For example, Windows 10 is resetting pretty much anything related to regional settings, keyboard, start menu and taskbar customization. Things are getting better from one version to another but if you’re upgrading from an older build, let’s say 1903, expect some post-configuration tasks… and the only way to do that is using a task sequence.

Servicing Plan has the simplicity, you set your option and forget, as Automatic Deployment Rules does for Software Updates. We yet did not have any client that doesn’t want any control over Windows 10 upgrade in their organization. We totally understand the point of Servicing Plan and they’ll be useful in a couple of releases when Windows 10 upgrades will be an easy task… but for now, it’s not, unfortunately. You can’t use servicing plans to upgrade Windows 7/8 to Windows 10. For migration, you must use an upgrade task sequence.

Feature Updates are deployed, managed and monitored as you would deploy a Software Update. You download and deploy it directly from the SCCM console. Features Updates are applicable and deployable only to existing Windows 10 systems.

Lastly, there’s a new option that you can use: Windows 10 Enablement Package. Some Windows 10 version shares the same core OS with an identical set of system files, but the new features are in an inactive and dormant state. By deploying the Enablement package you just enable the new feature. The advantage is that it reduces the update downtime with a single restart. Use the enablement package only to jump to the next Windows 10 version (example: 1903 to 1909 OR 20H2 to 21H1). You cannot deploy an enablement package let say to jump 4 windows version (example 1903 to 21H1).

We will cover all the options in this post.

Option #1 – Task Sequences

Import SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Operating System

We will now import the Windows 10 21H1 WIM file for Operating System Deployment. You should have downloaded the ISO file in the first step of this guide.

We will be importing the default Install.wim from the Windows 10 media for a “vanilla” Windows 10 deployment. You could also import a WIM file that you’ve created through a build and capture process.

This WIM file will be used for new computers, to upgrade an existing Windows 10, you need to import an Operating System Upgrade Packages. We will cover this in the next section.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library / Operating Systems / Operating System Images
  • Right-click Operating System Images and select Add Operating System Image
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • On the Data Source tab, browse to your WIM file. The path must be in UNC format
  • You can now select to import only a specific index from the WIM file. We selected the Windows 10 Enterprise index
  • Select your Architecture and Language at the bottom and click Next
  • In the General tab, enter the Name, Version and Comment, click Next
  • On the Summary tab, review your information and click Next
  • Complete the wizard and close this window
  • The import process will take about 5 minutes to complete

Distribute your SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Operating System Image

We now need to send the Operating System Image (WIM file) to our distribution points.

  • Right-click your Operating System Image, select Distribute Content and complete the Distribute Content wizard

Add Operating System Upgrade Packages

We will now import the complete Windows 10 media in Operating System Upgrade Packages. This package will be used to upgrade an existing Windows 10 or a Windows 7 (or 8.1) device to Windows 10 using an Upgrade Task Sequence.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library / Operating Systems / Operating System Upgrade Packages
  • Right-click Operating System Upgrade Packages and select Add Operating System Upgrade Packages
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • In the Data Source tab, browse to the path of your full Windows 10 media. The path must point to an extracted source of an ISO file. You need to point at the top folder where Setup.exe reside
  • You can now select to import only a specific index from the WIM file. We selected the Windows 10 Enterprise index
  • Select your Architecture and Language at the bottom and click Next
  • In the General tab, enter the Name, Version, and Comment, click Next
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • On the Summary tab, review your information and click Next and complete the wizard

Distribute your Operating System Upgrade Packages

We now need to send the Operating System Upgrade Package to your distribution points.

  • Right-click your Operating System Upgrade Package, select Distribute Content and complete the Distribute Content wizard
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade

Create an Upgrade SCCM Task Sequence for Windows 10 Computers

Let’s create an SCCM task sequence upgrade for a computer running a previous version of Windows 10.

This Task Sequence could be used to upgrade an existing Windows 7 or 8.1 computer.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library \ Operating Systems \ Task Sequences
  • Right-click Task Sequences and select Upgrade an operating system from upgrade package
  • In the Task Sequence Information tab, enter a Task Sequence Name and Description
  • On the Upgrade the Windows Operating System tab, select your upgrade package by using the Browse button
  • Select your Edition Index depending on the edition you want to deploy. If you select just 1 index as per our indication in previous steps, you’ll see just 1 index to select from.
  • On the Include Updates tab, select the desired Software Update task
    • All Software Updates will install the updates regardless of whether there is a deadline set on the deployment (on your OSD collection)
    • Mandatory Software Updates will only install updates from deployments that have a scheduled deadline (on your OSD collection)
    • Do not install any software updates will not install any software update during the Task Sequence
  • On the Install Applications tab, select any application you want to add to your upgrade process
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • On the Summary tab, review your choices and click Next and click Close

Create a Task Sequence for new Windows 10 Computer

Let’s create an SCCM task sequence for new computers you just bought.

  • Still in Software Library \ Operating Systems \ Task Sequences
  • Right-click Task Sequences and select Install an existing image package
SCCM Windows 10 20H2
  • In the Task Sequence Information tab, enter a Task Sequence Name, Description and select your X64 Boot Image
  • On the Install Windows tab, select your image package by using the Browse button
  • Select the Image Index and enter a product key. If you have a valid KMS server, you can skip the product key
  • In the Configure Network tab, select the Domain and OU in which the computer account will be created. Also enter valid credentials to join the domain.
SCCM Windows 10 20H2
  • In the Install Configuration Manager tab, select your Client Package
SCCM Windows 10 20H2
  • On the State Migration tab, select if you want to capture user settings and files. For our example, we’ll turn it off
  • On the Include Updates tab, select the desired Software Update task
    • All Software Updates will install the updates regardless of whether there is a deadline set on the deployment (on your OSD collection)
    • Mandatory Software Updates will only install updates from deployments that have a scheduled deadline (on your OSD collection)
    • Do not install any software updates will not install any software update during the Task Sequence
SCCM Windows 10 20H2
  • On the Install Applications tab, select any application you want to add to your upgrade process
SCCM Windows 10 20H2
  • On the Summary tab, review your choices and click Next and click Close

Edit your Windows 10 20H2 Task Sequences

Now that we have created the upgrade and new computer task sequences, let’s see what it looks like under the hood.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library \ Operating Systems \ Task Sequences
  • Right-click your upgrade or new computer task sequences and select Edit

As you can see, it’s fairly simple. SCCM will take care of everything in a couple of steps :

  • The Upgrade Operating System step contains the important step of applying Windows 10
  • Ensure to choose the right Edition
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade

Deploy the SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade Task Sequence

We are now ready to deploy our task sequence to the computer we want to upgrade. In our case, we are targeting a Windows 10 computer that is running Windows 10 1909.

  • Go to Software Library \ Operating Systems \ Task Sequences
  • Right-click Task Sequences and select Deploy
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • On the General pane, select your collection. This is the collection that will receive the Windows 10 upgrade. For testing purposes, we recommend putting only 1 computer to start
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • On the Deployment Settings tab, select the Purpose of the deployment
    • Available will prompt the user to install at the desired time
    • Required will force the deployment at the deadline (see Scheduling)
  • You cannot change the Make available to the following drop-down since upgrade packages are available to clients only
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • On the Scheduling tab, enter the desired available date and time. On the screenshot, we can’t create an Assignment schedule because we select Available in the previous screen
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • In the User Experience pane, select the desired options
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • In the Alerts tab, check Create a deployment alert when the threshold is higher than the following check-box if you want to create an alert on the failures
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • On the Distribution Point pane, select the desired Deployment options. We will leave the default options
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • Review the selected options and complete the wizard

Launch the Upgrade Process on a Windows 10 computer

Everything is now ready to deploy to our Windows 10 computers. For our example, we will be upgrading a Windows 10 2004 to Windows 10 21H1. This task sequence can also be used to upgrade existing Windows 7 or 8.1 computers to install Windows 10 21H1.

  • Log on your Windows 10 computer and launch a Machine Policy Retrieval & Evaluation Cycle from Control Panel / Configuration Manager Icon
SCCM Task Sequence Upgrade
  • Open the new Software Center from the Windows 10 Start Menu
  • You’ll see the SCCM upgrade task sequence as available. We could have selected the Required option in our deployment schedule, to launch automatically without user interaction at a specific time
  • When ready, click on Install
  • On the Warning, click Install
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • The update is starting, the task sequence Installation Progress screen shows the different steps
  • The WIM is downloading on the computer and saved in C:\_SMSTaskSequence
  • You can follow task sequence progress in C:\Windows\CCM\Logs\SMSTSLog\SMSTS.log
  • After downloading, the system will reboot
  • The computer restart and is loading the files in preparation for the Windows 10 upgrade
SCCM Windows 10 1803 Upgrade
  • WinPE is loading
SCCM Task Sequence Upgrade
  • The upgrade process starts. This step should take between 60-90 minutes depending on the device hardware
  • Windows 10 is getting ready, 2-3 more minutes and the upgrade will be completed
SCCM Task Sequence Upgrade
  • Once completed the SetupComplete.cmd script runs. This step is important to set the task sequence service to the correct state
SCCM Task Sequence Upgrade
  • Windows is now ready, all software and settings are preserved. Validate that you are running Windows 10 21H1 (Build 19043.985)

Launch the Process on a new Windows 10 computer

To install the Windows 10 21H1 operating system, the process is fairly the same except to start the deployment.

For my test, I’m booting a new VM. PXE boot the VM and press Enter for network boot service.

  • On the SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade Welcome to task sequence wizard screen, enter the password and click Next
  • Select your Windows 10 21H1 Task Sequence and click Next
  • The process will start and if everything goes right, should be fully automated.

If you encounter any issues, please see our troubleshooting guide.

#2 – Deploy Windows 10 21H1 using Feature Update

Once Windows 10 is added to your Software Update Point, we will create a Software Update deployment that will be deployed to our Windows 10 deployment collection. This is really the most straight forward and fastest method to deploy.

Make sure to run a full synchronisation to make sure that the new Windows 10 21H1 is available.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library / Software Updates / All Software Updates
  • On the right side, click Add Criteria, select Product, Expired and Superseded
    • Product : Windows 10 version 1903 and later
    • Language : English
    • Title contains 21H1
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • Select only the desired one and select Deploy
SCCM Windows10 21H1 Upgrade
  • Complete the Wizard and the deployment will be created to the desired collection
  • On a computer member of the collection the update will be available in software center. It will be available in the Updates section. Select the Windows 10 20H2 feature update and click Install. If you want an automated process, just make your deployment Required. The installation should take around 30 minutes.
  • You can also monitor the deployment in the Monitoring Section of the SCCM console

#3 – Deploy Windows 10 21H1 using Servicing Plans

As stated in the introduction of this post, you can use Servicing Plan to automate the Windows 10 deployment. Servicing Plans acts like ADR does for Software Updates. Let’s try that :

  • Go to Software Library \ Windows 10 Servicing \ Servicing Plans
  • Right-Click Servicing Plans and click Create Servicing Plans
  • Enter a Name and Description
  • Select your target Collection
  • Select the desired Deployment Ring and how many days after a release to deploy your Windows 10 update package
  • In the Upgrade Tab, select the Windows 10 version you want to scope your service plan. Use the Preview button at the bottom to scope it to your need.
  • Select your deployment schedule. Remeber that this rule will run automaticaly and schedule your deployment based on your settings.
  • Set your desired User Experience options
  • Select to create a new deployment packages. This is where the Update file will be downloaded before beeing copied to the Distribution Point
  • Distribute the update on the desired Distribution Point and complete the wizard
  • Your Servicing Plan is now created. You can always modify it if needed by right clicking on it and select Properties
SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade

#4 – Deploy Windows 10 21H1 using Enablement Package

We will now shows how to deploy Windows 10 21H1 using Enablement Package, if you’re not familiar with this, read our description in the introduction of this post.

You can only deploy this Enablement Package to Windows 10 Version 2004 and 20H2 devices that have installed the 2021-04 or later Cumulative Update.

It’s pretty musch the same as deploying a Software Update.

  • Open the SCCM Console
  • Go to Software Library \ Windows 10 Servicing \ All Windows 10 Updates
  • In the Search bar, type Enablement
  • The Windows 10 21H1 Enablement Package will be listed
SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade
  • Right-Click and select Deploy
SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade
  • Complete the Wizard and the deployment will be created to the desired collection. Don’t forget that this update can only be sent to a specific Windows version.
  • On a computer member of the collection, the update will be available in the software center. It will be available in the Updates section. Select the Windows 10 20H2 feature update and click Install. If you want an automated process, just make your deployment Required. The installation should be quicker than the classic Feature Update It should take around 15 minutes.
  • You can also monitor the deployment in the Monitoring Section of the SCCM console

Monitor your deployments

All deployment SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade methods can be monitored in the SCCM Console in the Monitoring section. Just select your deployments and you’ll have your status.

However, windows 10 Feature updates are built to fail if there’s anything on the computer that prevents a successful upgrade. This is called Hard Block.

We have numerous resources on our site for advanced monitoring and we also have 106 pages that cover the whole topic. This guide can be found in our shop.

Import ADMX File

If you’re responsible for managing group policy in your organization. Ensure that you import the latest Windows 10 21H1 ADMX file on your domain controller.

Bonus Resources

After your SCCM Windows 10 21H1 Upgrade, need a report to track your Windows 10 devices? We developed a report to help you achieve that :

Asset – Windows 10 SCCM Report

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