Last week, while Microsoft and Citrix were together taking aim at EMC VMware and its VMware View desktop virtualization product, the two companies were also talking up how well their respective desktop virtualization products meshed with one another. But what may have gotten lost in the sea of Microsoft desktop virtualization news was the announcement about the upcoming release of Citrix XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1.
When a company announces the release of a feature pack, many of us immediately start thinking about bug fixes, but this Citrix feature pack release has meat on the bone. It is aimed at enhancing the user experience, improving scalability, and simplifying management. With this announcement, Citrix and Microsoft are going after VMware with a vengeance.
[ Virtual desktop infrastructure endpoints come in all shapes and sizes, but InfoWorld's J. Peter Bruzzese says few are actually zero clients. | Track the latest trends in virtualization in InfoWorld's Virtualization Report newsletter. ]
Highlights of Citrix XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1 include:
- Improved scalability: Citrix verified that Feature Pack 1 could scale to deliver up to 100,000 shared virtual desktop sessions concurrently from a single location.
- Streamed user profiles: Citrix will be able to provide end-users with a much better user experience by accelerating the process of logging in to a virtual desktop or hosted application by as much as five times. Streaming profiles let the user complete the login process without having to wait for the entire profile to load, and Citrix has added a new feature called "active writeback" that speeds logout times by sending profile changes to a central store during the session as they occur, rather than having to wait and do them all in one batch during logout.
- Enhancements to Citrix HDX technology: The update enhances the company's high-definition HDX technology, which can improve the user's experience regardless of where they are or what type of device they are using. The update also includes enhancements to HDX 3D for Professional Graphics, adding support for Windows 7, 64-bit Windows XP, and lossless compression. The Microsoft and Citrix collaboration announcement also stated that HDX would be able to integrate with Microsoft's RemoteFX technology to help improve the user experience when connecting to virtual desktops from different types of networks.
- Simplified App Management: The new version incorporates the same capabilities included in the new XenApp 6 release, such as integration with Microsoft App-V and support for Windows Server 2008 R2. And XenDesktop can now provide on-demand, self-service app delivery integration with App-V through Citrix Dazzle and Receiver.