Greetings from the sunny Southern California! Mark Templeton just announced XenDesktop 7 today at the Synergy Keynote here in Anaheim, and we are all sharing the excitement from the audience. So I wanted to give you an update on VDI-in-a-Box, as the next version of VDI-in-a-Box shares some important Citrix technologies with XenDesktop 7.

You may remember a blog post I wrote a month ago on VDI-in-a-Box Project Curacao. The tech preview has been out for two weeks and quite a number of our partners and customers really liked it. Today, we are happy to announce that we are turning Project Curacao into the next VDI-in-a-Box release, version 5.3. VDI-in-a-Box 5.3 will be available in the end of June and focus on the following areas:

Full Windows 8 support

Version 5.3 will ship with the same VDA/HDX component and PVD (Personal vDisk) component as XenDesktop 7. This is the first time we “simship” major technology updates between XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box! Windows 8 virtual desktops will work with HDX connections for best user experience, and benefit from the enhancement in 3D application support, new H.264 SuperCodec, and reduced bandwidth consumption. Personal desktops (PVD) will be available on both Windows 7 and Windows 8, providing personalized user experience on the latest Windows desktop OS.

We are also including support for the new Windows 2012 VHDX format. In the current release of VDI-in-a-Box, VHDX format still works but is converted to VHD format on the fly. VDI-in-a-Box 5.3 will support VHDX format natively, allowing customers to take advantage of the new format.

Better supportability

As we see more and more partners start providing VDI-in-a-Box solutions, the team wanted to further improve the supportability of our already quite robust product.

For the end users, VDI-in-a-Box 5.3 will provide better, more specific error messages and self-service buttons so that the users are able to fix connection issues themselves when possible. And as seen in the tech preview, remote users will be able to single sign-on (SSO) into virtual desktops on the Netscaler Access Gateway web interface.

For IT and support organizations, we improved VDI-in-a-Box logging in some key areas such as licensing, JGroup, and HV connector. Log collection is also made easier – now you can collect logs from all the vdiManagers on any one vdiManager by a click of a button.

We also tweaked the product internals quite a bit and made version 5.3 a much more robust and higher performing release.

Enhanced IT experience

As seen in the tech preview, VDI-in-a-Box 5.3 will come with a new wizard-driven SSL certificate installation and management. Admins often need to install a trusted SSL certificate on the vdiManagers to avoid security warnings in end users’ browsers, and they used to have to do it from command line of each vdiManager appliance. Version 5.3 allows you to install and manage both trusted and self-signed SSL certificates from the admin console. You will be able to distribute installed certificates to other servers in a grid from the same UI.

VDI-in-a-Box 5.3 will come with Citrix Universal Printing components to bring the printing experience to the same level as XenDesktop. Admins no longer need to install multiple network printer drivers in the golden images any more. Universal Printing requires no driver install in the images.

We have been supporting all three major hypervisors and with every VDI-in-a-Box release, we add support for latest versions of the hypervisors. In version 5.3, we are adding support for the next version of XenServer.

Throughout the next few weeks, the VDI-in-a-Box team will be writing about some of the new features in more details. So make sure that you come back to the Citrix blog later to learn more about VDI-in-a-Box 5.3!