Pawel Serwan Blog

Citrix, Microsoft and other stuff

First Look: XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 – Series summary


keep-calm-and-make-a-summaryIn this post I would like to sum up the First Look series on XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6. We did quite amazing job as we went through all main topics regarding installation and configuration of the product. I got really nice response from your side and got very nice comments. I would like to thank specially Piotr Ostrowski for his great comment regarding StoreFront configuration.

The series was the most frequently read part of my blog. It’s really nice to see that you like what I write about. Some of you put as well link to my blog on your websites. Thank you for that.

Now let’s review our series. XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 seems to be much better product than version 7.1 or even 7.5. Citrix really improved some areas and decided to revert back some old features that we know from XenApp 6.x and IMA architecture. Some of them sound very interesting but taking a closer look  I realized that this is just substitution. Let’s do then some summary points:

1. Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 installation – the installation of the product is quite easy. The wizard guides you through all configuration steps. What I really like is the prerequisites part – installer takes care of installation of all needed server roles, features, .NET packages etc. What I don’t like is the first screen of the wizard, where you have to choose whether you install XenApp or XenDesktop – it is confusing as you are installing exactly the same binary files, it is all about licensing. But about that in the next point.

2. Citrix is really missing one important info for all their customers and users. XenApp and XenDesktop share exactly the same architecture – FMA and well everything under the hood is exactly the same for both “products”. the only thing that defines if you are using XenApp or XenDesktop is the license model you bought from Citrix. You can read more about that on Carl Webster, CTP blog:

Please read it and remember – XenApp = XenDesktop, but XenApp license is not XenDesktop license 🙂

3. Connection Leasing – it was announced as a replacement of LHC and to be honest I was really disappointed with it. To be honest I do not see the real life use of that as it really doesn’t provide any backup mechanism in case of problem with SQL database connection. I cannot understand why IMA could use Access databases and why FMA cannot 🙂 Citrix, can you explain?

4. Lack of features between XenDesktop 7.x versions – I’m not sure if you noticed that but…between version 7.5 and 7.6 some features were removed e.g. you cannot anymore define user session window size or define color depth for user session. It was possible in 7.5 and well for some reasons it is not available anymore in 7.6.

5. StoreFront – to be honest I have a sentiment to old Web Interface which in my opinion was great. It had it’s limitations but still it was working fine and quick. I do not like StoreFront probably due to problem with Session Sharing.  Not sure if you noticed that already but:

  • if you use StoreFront with XenDesktop 7.x  and launcj Citrix published desktop then you will have one session launched. Then if you will launch Citrix published app on that desktop you have second Citrix session launched with another ID. So you will need 2 Citrix licenses. Can you now imagine how it will impact your license pool?
  • if you are using Web Interface (or even StoreFront  :)) and old good XenApp 6.5 there will be only one session for both: published desktop and app launched on it.

I have no idea if that is by design but for sure you can find bunch of topics on Citrix Support Forum regarding that. So Citrix – take to work and fix that. Unless you want to loose few customers more.

6. FMA architecture – to be honest I really do not like FMA for one fact – you cannot have anymore one global site. You have to rely on regional Delivery Sites. For big companies with global scope it means one thing – additional costs. And due to that they might think about replacement. Right now both VWware View (Horizon) and Microsoft RDS, especially Remote App via Microsoft Azure, are looking really good. And quite many companies may decided to test those new solution. In my opinion it will still take some time before FMA will be mature enough to meet most of the Citrix customers expectations.

7. XenDesktop in the cloud – right now it is not fully working solution for me. Personally I haven’t tested it yet but reading documentation and other blogs still seems to be solution that needs a lot of improvements. Another case is the licensing of VDI in the cloud which is really not so clear.

8. Citrix PVS – I started to work with this technology just few weeks ago and it seems to be really nice solution. Will try to write something about in the near future.

9. Citrix Receiver 4.2 – it was said to be finally a replacement of Receiver Enterprise 3.4 but it doesn’t seems so. I was not able to get Start Menu folder and SSO was not working properly.

I shared with you my opinions, concerns and comments regarding new version of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6. Personally I presume that Citrix might release shortly another version or at least Feature Pack that will fix few problems that I mentioned. I can’t imagine that they will wait for the release of XenDesktop 8 which might be probably end of 2015. As you know the release date of Windows 10 is autumn 2015 so Citrix will still need some time to tweak their product. Let’s see.

Below you can find the list of episodes of our series.

In the first part – we have installed first Delivery Controller and setup our new XenDesktop 7.6 site.

In the second part – we have configured first site.

In the third part – we prepared the template image of Windows Server 2012 R2 that will be used by MCS service for creation of new machines that will be hosting user desktops and applications.

In the fourth part – we have upgraded XenApp 6.5 server to XenApp 7.6.

In the fifth part – we have created machine catalogs and used previously prepared master image. We attached to the site as well upgraded XenApp 6.5 server.

In the sixth part – we have delivered applications to the end users by creating delivery groups.

In the seventh part – we have configured StoreFront so that end users could launch their apps.

In the eighth part – we checked how Connection Leasing really works.

In the ninth part – I showed how PowerShell  can be used in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6.


Thanks for your time and hope you will find useful information in other posts on my blog. Cheers!


3 thoughts on “First Look: XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 – Series summary

  1. Thank you for your tutorial! It was very helpful.


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