One of many accomplishments of our Engineering team that makes me proud is the high level of HDX feature parity across XenDesktop VDI, XenDesktop/XenApp hosted shared desktops, XenApp hosted apps and our new VDI-in-a-Box product. As we’ve designed new HDX capabilities and enhanced existing ones we’ve made it a goal to develop them as cross-platform technologies, and this has essentially been achieved. Occasionally I’ve been asked by customers and partners whether the same high definition user experience is now available on XenDesktop 5.5, XenApp 6.5 HF2 and VDI-in-a-Box 5.0, and for the most part the answer is Yes. With VDI-in-a-Box, this has been realized by sharing the same Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA 5.5) as used for XenDesktop VDI. With XenApp, it has been more complicated, yet it has largely been achieved. Still, there are some remaining differences worth noting and that’s why I promised to write this blog post.

Various factors can lead to one product introducing an HDX enhancement ahead of another. Sometimes the underlying operating system creates technical challenges. For example, the Windows Server RDS platform doesn’t currently lend itself to a generic, multi-user USB implementation. That will change, but at the moment generic USB redirection is only possible on Windows client operating systems. So on XenApp we’ve had to implement a variety of alternative USB solutions including Windows Portable, several device-specific solutions and our optimized virtual channels for keyboard and mouse, audio, video, printing, etc.

Similarly, OpenGL graphics hardware acceleration is not available on Windows Server, only on Windows client operating systems, so this requires XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro. For a comparison of XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro and XenApp HDX 3D, please read Unbeatable solutions for high-end 3D graphics and HDX 3D Pro takes another leap forward.  

Other times it is a matter of scheduling. Closedown cycles don’t necessarily line up, so an HDX enhancement may catch the train on one platform ahead of another, or it may take longer to implement a new HDX capability on Windows Server RDS because of architectural differences. That’s why UDP/RTP transport for audio isn’t yet available on XenApp. Aero Redirection and RemoteFX graphics are also not offered on XenApp.

The examples above cover off the few significant differences in HDX across our current product releases. Stay tuned for more updates on HDX in the year ahead.

Derek Thorslund
Director of Product Management
Citrix Product Strategist for HDX