Using Windows Action Center and Power Action Reminder for Symantec Management Agent Notifications
search cancel

Using Windows Action Center and Power Action Reminder for Symantec Management Agent Notifications


Article ID: 276754


Updated On:


IT Management Suite


Starting with our ITMS 8.6 RU1 Release, we introduced a way to show all Symantec Management Agent (also known as SMA or Altiris Agent) notifications in Windows action center on the client computers.


ITMS 8.6 RU1 and later


The "Show agent notifications in Windows action center" option on the Targeted Agent Settings > User Control tab (Under SMP Console Settings > All Settings > Agents/Plug-ins>Symantec Management Agent>Settings) lets you show all agent notifications in Windows action center on the client computers. See Targeted Agent Settings Page

If this option is checked, the Symantec Management Agent restart notifications will be shown in Windows action center and the Windows "Focus assist" settings apply to these notifications as well.
For example, if an end user turns the "Focus assist" on, the agent restart notifications are not shown on the desktop unless they are critical.

If an end user turns the agent notifications off using the right-click menu option "Turn off all notifications for Symantec Management Agent" in the Windows action center, the restart notifications will be shown in the Symantec Management Agent user interface. This behavior will avoid any unexpected computer reboots.

This option is supported on client computers with Windows 10 (version 1903 and higher) and Windows Server 2019 (version 1903 and higher).
Few areas to consider:

The major points about SMA reminder window:
  1. Multiple power actions (logoff, shutdown or restart) can be requested by various policies and tasks.
  2. User can perform some of them like "logoff|" and then leave others like "restart" for a later time.

We want to make this reminder window to show as Windows Action Center notification preserving as many details as possible but there are huge UI limitations because of the Windows notification system. 

Windows UI limitations are strict:

  1. No more that 4 lines in the descriptive text
  2. No more than 5 actionable items in the selection box
  3. No more than 5 actionable buttons

All notifications from various apps are shown in the same space in Windows Action Center so there is not much space for many notifications. The user can be easily overloaded with notifications if we show a single notification for every alert, like one for logoff, one for restart, etc, We’ve decided to have a single restart notification that can be modified over time if more power alerts come.

So here are the behavioral points for the new UI:

  1. Only the last alert text is shown. Shutdown alerts have precedence over restart, restart alerts have precedence over logoff.
  2. If more than one power action alert exists then text "There are N more pending actions" is displayed in the notification. This is the new text, it does not exist in the old UI.
    All the user needs to do to either log off, restart or shutdown depending on the number of pending requests. The number simply shows that this is not the first request there and maybe it’s time for the user to do something.
    If log off and restart are requested then there will be no logoff button as in native SMA UI, simply because of the current size limitations on Windows Action Center notifications (we cannot fit the text into 4 buttons).
    The progress is ticking if configured indicating the time until the automatic action.
  3. User can defer action up to the configured time. He can select from up to 5 deferral time intervals, these intervals change over time because we can put only 5 intervals in the selection box.

    The maximal interval is 2 weeks. If 2 weeks is set as a maximum then there will be intervals like 5 minutes, 2 hours, 12, hours, 1 week, 2 weeks.
    If maximal deferral time is set to more than a day, then there will be intervals of 1 day or 2 days or 4 days.

  4. If only "log off" was requested, then there will be "log off now" button.
  5. If "restart" was requested, then there will be "restart“ and "shutdown“ button and no "log off“ button even if log off was also requested. The idea here is that „restart“ is kind of more powerfull and it is requested so we can skip "log off“ request. "shutdown“ is added for convenience - user may want to shutdown a machine, go home and then turn it back on , that would be like "restart“ for us.
  6. If multiple logged in sessions exist on the machine then the notification will be transformed into the confirmation window when the user presses "log off now", "restart now", or "shutdown now"
  7. Confirmation window is needed so the user would not accidentally logged off other users currently working on the same machine.
    The regular or power user will not be able to log off the administrator, he/she will be able to log off only own session. The admin will be able to log off every session. This is the same functionality as exists in the old UI.
  8. There is a context menu and there is "Help" menu item in there. 
  9. User can move notifications into Action Center after notification appears on the desktop. "Right arrow“ should be used for that purpose. If user does not do that then the notification will be moved into the Action Center automatically after some time. Users can open Action Center later and review notifications then.
  10. There is no way to disable "X“ button for the notification so it should react to this action. The reactions are as following:
    1. If deferral is configured then the notification will be deferred. The currently selected time interval will be used.
      The agent log contains the moment a notification appears or changes or when the user triggers some action. The log entries contain some XMLs that describe the UI and action in detail, so you will be able to see what was selected by the user. These are INFO level entries since there should be not many of them, the entries about UI change (like progress update) are on TRACE level.
    2. If deferral is not configured then the notification will be shown again. User has to either perform the power action manually or wait until it is performed automatically (if configured).
  11. When SMA starts or stops it removes all its old notifications from Action Center and desktop.
  12. When SMA starts it will add any needed notifications back.
  13. This new UI will appear starting with certain Windows 10 versions only and only if configured so in the agent policy.
  14. Initially, a notification appears as a normal Windows reminder that will disappear after about 25 seconds, but if automatic restart is configured then the notification becomes a priority notification 3 minutes before the actual automatic action. It will appear on the desktop again even if the user moved to Action Center before and it will continue appearing every 30 seconds until the automatic action. The user will still have options to disable SMA’s notification but we have no control here then, SMA will just restart the machine automatically anyway.