I’m excited to let everyone know that we just posted the second release candidate of XenClient and the Synchronizer for XenClient to the web. This will be our last stop before GA and I wanted to tell you about some of the great new features and enhancements in this release in XenClient, tomorrow I’ll share more details about enhancements to the Synchronizer for XenClient. We will also have a few more surprises before GA that I’ll share in late September.

Windows 7 x64

This was one of the top requests as we are seeing about a 50/50 split with customer deployments of Windows 7 between 32bit and 64bit. The Xen virtualization technology we use in XenClient is 64bit so adding this support was really a matter of porting the graphics, USB, and other supporting drivers over to 64bit. The storage and networking drivers were already 64bit ready courtesy of the XenServer group.

Improved USB

Another top request was improvements to USB device support. So we spent a lot of time making major improvements to the USB support in XenClient. This includes support for integrated USB devices such as webcams and fingerprint readers. Also we built a new user interface for routing USB devices between VMs and setting up persistent connections between VMs and USB devices. At this point most USB devices should work with the platform. If not let us know. I’ve listed some of the top requests below.

Added support for the following devices:

Apple iPod, iPhone, iPad

Microsoft Windows Phones

Android Phones

Headsets

Fingerprint Readers

Webcams

Smart Card Readers

3G data modems

And many more…

Bluetooth

With our new improved USB support comes support for a variety of Bluetooth devices. On most systems in our HCL the Bluetooth system is actually a USB device that can be assigned to a virtual machine. This allows that virtual machine to talk to your Bluetooth devices.

Usability Enhancements

We spent a lot of time on incorporating usability feedback into this release. We have a crack team of UX experts at Citrix that watched ITPros first use of the system and we learned some great information about how to make the product even simpler to use. While we made a host of enhancements and these are some of the ones that stand out.

Simplified VM upload and download process

We removed combined steps and even removed a number of steps to make the process of uploading a VM image to a Synchronizer super simple. We also removed the duplicate publish VMs that were cluttering the UI.

Improved display of upload/download progress

Along with enhancements to the actual upload and download process we enhanced the display of upload and download progress information and now include this information on the main Receiver for XenClient UI.

Enhanced client authentication experience

Here again we combined steps and cleanup up the UI to make the authentication experience on XenClient simpler to use and understand.

In VM alerting system

We have a brand new in VM alerting system that will make sure users are aware of critical issues affecting the system such as low disk space, policy actions, or impending lease time expiries. Previously this type of information was only available in the Receiver for XenClient UI.

Mouse pointer trails support

We have starting extended XenClient to be more accessible to all users and the first area of focus was on the mouse and trackpad. In this release we added pointer trails support 

Automatic slipstream of Intel Graphics drivers

XenClient has some amazing 3D graphics support that lets a virtual machine have direct access to the Intel graphics system for a native graphics experience. Now in this release we automatically slipstream the Intel graphics drivers into most versions of Windows. So you can flip on the 3D graphics feature and be ready to go without having to download any drivers.

Intel AMT KVM Remote Control

The latest version of Intel vPro technology includes a great new feature called AMT KVM Remote Control. This allows you to remotely view and control a laptop using a VNC viewer. This works on systems shipped this year with Intel vPro on Core i5 and i7 systems.  We did some nice integration work that allows you to remote control not only the XenClient UI but also switch between all of your VMs. It’s useful for remote troubleshooting and training with users. I also find it helpful for doing demos of XenClient over Go2Meeting. You need a second PC running Go2Meeting and then you can connect via a VNC viewer to the XenClient system. This lets everyone on the Go2Meeting see everything on the XenClient system.

Intel Extended Page Tables support

In this release we added support for hardware acceleration of virtual memory operations for increased memory performance. In the past the Xen hypervisor we use in XenClient did an admirable job of page table virtualization but nothing beats hardware assist and this will give us an extra boost in overall performance for memory operations.

In place upgrade for XenClient

We have had a tremendous response to the first release candidate and every time I go to a field event I get people showing me their laptops running XenClient. We have a legion of fans running XenClient as their daily software and so we wanted to make sure they had a path to move to the latest version of the software. So you can boot your existing system with an RC2 CD and the installer will find your existing setup and upgrade it. Once the software is upgraded be sure to update the XenClient tools software in each of your virtual machines. And as usual be sure to backup your system before doing the upgrade.

Local authentication enhancements

We made some nice changes to the authentication experience on XenClient simplifying the way you enter credentials as part of the usability upgrade mentioned above. We also added support for manual and automatic locking of the system. This means if you walk away from your XenClient system we can lock it automatically to protect your VMs and configuration.

Secure Application Sharing

We made a large number of enhancements to the secure application sharing feature to make it easier to use and provide helpful guidance if a publishing VM is not active.  Below are a list of some of the enhancements that have been made:

Automatic resolution changes when attaching a projector or external monitor

Notifications if the publishing VM is alseep or powered off

Ability to adjust thickness and color of secure shared application windows

Blacklisting of non-essential Windows utilities and built-in apps

Expanded hardware compatibility

This was also a big area of feedback from RC1 and over the next few releases you will see a big increase in the number of systems and peripherals we support. You will even see some new additions by the time we get to XenClient 1.0 GA.

Added support for the following laptops:

HP EliteBook 2540p

Dell Latitude E4310

Dell Latitude E4200

Added support for the following desktop:

HP Compaq 8000 Elite

Added support for the following wireless adapters:

Support for Dell Wireless™ 1501 adapters

Support for Dell Wireless™ 1520 adapters

Support for Intel 5150 Wireless adapters (WiFi Only)

Support for Intel 6250 Wireless adapters (WiFi Only)

Support for Broadcom 4312G Wireless adapters

Support for Broadcom 4322AGN Wireless adapters

So that’s some of the great new features and enhancements we have made to XenClient, see my second post to find out about some of the great new features in the Synchronizer including our new Dynamic image mode.

You can download XenClient and the Synchronizer for XenClient RC2 here.