Today, Citrix released a new version of VDI-in-a-Box. While continuing our signature simplicity and affordability, VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 extends virtual desktop support to Windows 8.1, adds support for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and VMware vSphere/ESX 5.5, and comes with several power tools that IT administrators can use to enable advanced use cases. Here is an overview of the new features:

Stay current with latest Windows and hypervisor technologies

Just like Citrix XenDesktop 7.1, the new VDI-in-a-Box release fully supports Windows 8.1 virtual desktops. In fact, VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 and XenDesktop 7.1 share the identical VDA/HDX stack, ensuring that Citrix customers have a consistent, highly optimized user experience no matter which Citrix desktop virtualization product they choose to use. Version 5.4 also adds support for using Windows Server 2012 R2 as virtual desktops in a Windows 8.1 skin – a very useful feature for service providers to leverage Microsoft SPLA licensing to provide Windows-As-A-Service.

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 supports the latest hypervisors including Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, XenServer 6.2, and VMware vSphere/ESX 5.5.

When it comes to timely, up-to-date support for latest Windows and hypervisor technologies, VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 leaves no stone unturned, giving our customers complete freedom to explore what’s best out there, and to keep their production environments on the latest and greatest.

Power tools for advanced use cases

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 now works with customers’ existing investments in SAN and other storage solutions by adding shared storage support on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. Shared storage is supported on both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere hypervisors.

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 enables simple and affordable VDI for education with direct access from HTML5 devices such as Chromebooks. Version 5.4 includes built-in HTML5 device support, enabling devices without native Citrix Receiver to work “out of the box” with VDI-in-a-Box virtual desktops via a built-in HTML5 Receiver. Customers no longer need to deploy a separate StoreFront server to use Chromebooks with VDI-in-a-Box.

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 helps businesses stay compliant with support for multiple computer domains. Each golden image can be assigned to any of the configured computer domains. Desktops can be segregated into different domains if your business requires such segregation for security, regulatory or compliance reasons.

In a shared lab setting, VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 supports follow-me desktops for teachers while providing shared user accounts to students. Follow-me desktops is a template property with a per-template configuration of on/off. It allows a shared user account for students and more personal, follow-me desktops for teachers.

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 provides peace of mind for customers to be able to preserve and grow their investment in Citrix technologies. Version 5.4 now includes a wizard for migrating to Citrix XenDesktop, directly accessible from the VDI-in-a-Box Administration Console. The migration wizard exports master images for use in creating machine catalogs, and generates PowerShell scripts to duplicate VDI-in-a-Box template configuration and user assignments in a XenDesktop environment.

Enhanced IT experience

VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 provides support for streamlined IT workflows to pilot image updates before rolling out to production users. Images can be saved under a new name using ‘Image Save As’, allowing admins to easily create image backups, or experiment with Windows updates and application patches. Pooled desktop templates can be reassigned to new base images to pilot image updates with select users before rolling out to all users.

In previous version, VDI-in-a-Box 5.3, we added a SSL certificate installation and management UI which has been well liked by our customers. In version 5.4, the SSL certificate UI is greatly improved. Now you can install and manage either new or existing SSL certificates through the UI. The command line and Java keytool is no longer needed. You can also specify multiple host names when creating new CA-signed certificates.

With VDI-in-a-Box 5.4, helpdesk can offer users remote assistance in real time. The Microsoft Remote Assistance feature is now integrated in the VDI-in-a-Box Admin console. Administrators and helpdesk engineers can remotely mirror user sessions, take over mouse and keyboard control with end user’s permission, and be able to troubleshoot and fix issues in users’ desktops.

Current VDI-in-a-Box customers can download version 5.4 now at the Citrix product download page (requires MyCitrix login). Everyone can try the new version by downloading the free trial. As usual, documentation of this latest VDI-in-a-Box release is available on Citrix eDocs. And you can always go to the VDI-in-a-Box Support Portal for all VDI-in-a-Box technical information.

Let us know what you think of the VDI-in-a-Box 5.4 release. Talk to us in VDI-in-a-Box support forum, LinkedIn user group, or on Twitter @VDIinaBox!