There have been many good posts in the blogosphere about XenDesktop that I have bookmarked.  Since this site did not exist when all the posts were made, I decided to write write up a history of blog posts about this product to have in the archives. A lot of this is old info that has been updated as the project has evolved, but this gives you a good history on that evolution.

Jeff Muir (a Citrix Developer) first blogged about the PortICA technology in XenDesktop back in 2006.

Introducing PortICA (ICA Server on WinXP)

Here is a short excerpt from Jeff –

“This is where PortICA comes in. For the first time, it will be possible to host ICA on Windows XP. This makes it possible to use existing ICA clients and infrastructure to access Windows XP desktops.

The project started early this year with a team from Sydney, Australia. I’m a part of this team. Members of the team have worked on a number of projects like Application Isolation (AIE) and Access Gateway in the past.”

There is quite a lively discussion in the comments section as well.

 Jeff has made several posts about PortICA and XenDesktop.

Just Like Being There

“Just Like Being There”. What does that mean to you? To me it means being able to use all the aspects of my computer system even though I am not there. It means I can run advanced 3D graphics and have it perform well. It means that it can support all my devices remotely and integrate with my local client. It means I have the latest technology to make the remote experience that much more real.

The goal: “To attain parity with local system performance and functionality”.

The vision: “To provide full spectrum coverage of user applications without noticeable degradation”.

The point: “To continue evolving the Citrix story to include more of the possible uses”.

To be completely honest, it is impossible to match the parity of local system performance due to bandwidth restrictions and built in latency due to routing. However, having an impossible goal is often the starting point for impossible things to become more possible. It is possible that technology solutions would provide enough improvements to guarantee that the link is not perceptively degraded for a certain threshold of latency and bandwidth. For example, a fully managed network (LAN or WAN) could guarantee enough performance to justify a “Just Like Being There” presence.

After the announcement of the name change from Citrix Desktop Server to XenDesktop, Jeff did his most recent post “XenDesktop and PortICA” 

Other posts by Jeff include “The Citrix Clipboard (Part 1) , The Citrix Clipboard (Part2) , Citrix COM Port Mapping (Part 1) Old and New Ways, Citrix COM Port Mapping (Part2) Just the old way, and more. You can view the complete list of PortICA related posts by Jeff here.

Brian Madden did a recorded interview with Brian Nason and Sumit Dhawan of Citrix on Project Trinity (the internal name of the first release) back in December of 2006.

Sunil Kumar of Citrix blogged about his Desktop Broker webinar in December of 2006.

Once Citrix Desktop Server was released, Brian Madden posted his thoughts on his site, as did Gabe Knuth.

Brian Madden likely had the first blog post regarding the name change from Citrix Desktop Server to Citrix XenDesktop during iForum 2007. Michael Roth of commented on the name change in this post as well.

Gareth James wrote a post entitled –“XenDesktop – A First Look”. Gareth included a few screen shots in his post for those of us who like visuals. Here is a bit of his summary –

My first impressions are favourable. It seems a well rounded solid solution. Now we wait for the Ardence/Provisioning Server components to be released, and if what we have already is anything to go by, then we have a very neat, tidy solution.

Gareth followed this post up by building his own online demo in “Xen Desktop – Try it Yourself”. He later added dual monitor support to the online demo . Gareth did an excellent job building this and documenting his experience, but has taken it down as of this post :

I have withdrawn the Xendesktop Demo. Thanks guys, 260 testers and nobody even tried to break it. I hope to put something new out ASAP.

Gus Pinto of did an overview of XenDesktop called “Citrix XenDesktop Explained”. Gus did a nice job of summarizing the features of XenDesktop.


Desktop Connector – Dynamic Desktop Delivery

Provides integrated method to connect end users to 3 different types of data-center provided compute power. Virtual Machine desktops provide full user personalization while offering the security and reliability of a centrally managed desktop. Terminal Server-based desktops offer the greatest possible scalability with extremely high reliability to users performing repeatable/predictable tasks. Blade based systems can serve the needs of CAD designers or other users who have very high performance requirements for their computing environment.

XenCenter – Virtualization Infrastructure

Provides virtualization infrastructure for desktop images in the datacenter. This is the hypervisor that allows many desktops to run from a single server in the data center. Offers real time and trended graphing of virtual machine and total server performance metrics including CPU, memory, plus disk and network I/O.

Virtual Desktop Provisioning

Provisions multiple virtual machines in the datacenter using a single desktop image. This will save up to 90% of storage capacity that would be required from competing virtual machine-based desktop solutions.

XenMotion – Desktop Pooling

Enables several users to share a common pool of desktops that are allocated on-demand, then returned to the pool after logoff. User personalization is captured and applied so for a consistent familiar experience each time.

SpeedScreen™ – Speedy Desktops

Based on Citrix’s ICA protocol, SpeedScreen ensures that screen images on XenDesktop clients are updated at up to twice the speed of competing technologies. This will ensure that the desktop user will experience performance that will match or exceed that of a traditional individual PC system.

Instant On – Desktops on Demand

This enables users to quickly log on and begin desktop use, ensuring immediate productivity for workers, facilitates user acceptance, and ensures workforce continuity in case of business interruptions.

For new employees, Instant On also means that a brand new desktop can be made available from the minute they are given userid and password.

Univeral Printing

XenDesktop allows any user to print to all network connected printers, eliminating the guesswork of driver installs, locally connected printers, and peer-to-peer networking configuration.
Products and Packaging

Of course, this history would not be complete with linking to the post in the Citrix XenDesktop blog over on Citrix TechTalk. My understanding is all those posts will be soon migrated to this new blogging platform, but here is a quick list –  

“Live from iForum – Mark’s keynote”

“Separation of Apps and Desktops”

How is this related to desktop virtualization? Desktop virtualization involves putting desktops in the data center. That just means you are moving the whole app deployment problem in the data center. Not good! My recommendation would be that while you are taking the action of putting desktop in the data center, have a strategy on you will separate your apps and desktops. Keeping your desktops clean – no apps deployed, you will be able to sustain the high performance of Windows like it comes out of the box and cut down on the IT operations on app compatibility significantly. What I mean by separation of app and desktop is – you should virtualize all your windows apps, either by client side app virtualization (a.k.a isolation environments ) or server side app virtualization (a.k.a Server Based Computing). Separating/isolating/virtualizing your apps will make your virtual desktops humming.

What am I missing here? Are you thinking about separating your apps and desktops as you move to virtual desktops?

The next post (by Chris Harget) entitled “Virtual Metaphors” invoked the Bard himself.

So, without getting too Shakespearean --though I was tempted to say, “Oh virtual desktop, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Shall I compare thee to a…” but, even I was reluctant to get into that much hyperbole. So, let us consider a few metaphors your rank and file users, and senior management, may be able to appreciate.

  1. Virtual desktops are like living in a luxury condominium with maid service. It’s your home, but it feels like new every day.
  2. Virtual desktops are like being able to open a door in any building and walk into your office. Everyone can be a day extender or telecommuter when needed.
  3. A virtual desktop is a car whose mileage automatically resets to zero every time you turn it on.
  4. Having a virtual desktop is like always getting to be first in line at the show. Instant on means no waiting.
  5. Upgrading a virtual desktop is like calling your mechanic to ask for an extra 100 horse power for the day, and getting it while you are out driving.

Chris followed up this very “literary” post with a very practical one – “Top 10 ways XenDesktop should save you money”.

Ron Lot then asks the question “Will Virtualized PCs wotk better than your old PC?” . Calvin Hsu followed this up with “Just an Introduction”.

The last two posts are “What’s More Important: Easy for Users or Easy for IT” and the “What is VDI?”

There you have it – a “Blogospheric History” of Citrix XenDesktop. As we near the release date of XenDesktop in the first half of next year, you will find a great deal more content on this exciting new offering. Until the official release, you can get access to the Tech Preview  at .

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