On Wednesday, September 10th 2014, Dan Cote and I presented the What’s New in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 webinar.  If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, a recording of the webinar is available for you here.  If you were one of the thousands of individuals that did join the live broadcast, I would personally like to thank you for attending and mention that although we tried to answer many of the questions during the live event, due to the high turn-out and large amount of questions we received, we weren’t able to answer everything during the live Q&A portion.  This blog provides answers to the most frequently asked questions we received during and after the webinar.

Before we dig into the FAQs I want to call out some really helpful resources.  If you are looking to learn more about the technical details of the new XenApp and XenDesktop features and functionality, please review Cris Lau’s blog post on Making XenApp and XenDesktop better in 2014.  This blog series drills into many of the architecture details of key features, including: Connection Leasing, Anonymous Access, Session Pre-Launch, Session Linger, and many more.  If you are looking at planning an upgrade from a previous version of XenApp to the new XenApp 7.6, Dan Feller is hosting a webinar on Oct 7th and you can register for that webinar here.

So there’s a lot more resources out there to help you out, but here are the answers to many of the questions we received during the webinar:

Q:  When will XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 be available?

A:  Citrix will be releasing all the components of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 at the end of September, 2014. As part of this XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6, and as benefit of your Subscription Advantage (SA), eligible customers will also be able to leverage enhancements to Provisioning Services, StoreFront, AppDNA, Director, Chrome and HTML5 Receivers, plus many other new features and functionality.

Q:  How do the new features and functionality in XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 map to the different product editions?

A:  The product feature matrix for both XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 is available online at http://www.citrix.com/go/products/xendesktop/feature-matrix.html.  You can use this table to compare features by edition.

Q:  Will session pre-launch work for both published applications and published desktops?  What client operating system supports pre-launch?

A:  Session pre-launch is specifically designed for virtual applications given that users log on and off applications throughout the day; whereas, a user typically only logs onto a virtual desktop once a day.  Session pre-launch requires a Windows endpoint device with the Windows Receiver. You can learn more about this feature from this blog.

Q: With the new Connection Leasing functionality that helps ensure environment availability in the event of a database failure, will a new user be able to connect or only existing users?

A: Citrix recommends following Microsoft best practice to create a highly available SQL deployment, via features like Always-on, mirroring, or clustering. Connection leasing is designed to complement your highly available SQL deployment, and serves as an additional safety layer in the event of a database failure. In an event of database failure, this feature ensures existing users can continue to connect to their mission critical apps they had previously accessed.  New users would need to have the database available to make the first, initial app launch connection to create a lease. You can learn more about Connection Leasing from our blog here.

Q:  Does the new HTML5 Receiver support printing, and what other features are supported?

A:  The HTML5 Receiver, along with the new Receiver for Chrome (which will be available from the Chrome store), offers users that ability to print through ‘Google Cloud print’—from any virtual app or virtual desktop.  When a user requests a print job within a virtual app or desktop, the print request converts the content into a PDF and instantly sends the PDF to the client, so it can begin the print job just like any other local file on a Chromebook.

Q:  Can you explain how XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 support USB 3.0 devices?

A:  Support for USB 3.0 devices needs to be handled by both the endpoint where the USB device is connected and the VDA running on XenApp or XenDesktop 7.6 infrastructure.  XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 are USB 3.0 ready. This ensures that the infrastructure supports USB 3.0 plug-n-play recognition, enabling new Receivers coming for Windows and Linux to include automatic device mapping and provide users with a plug-n-play capability with the latest 3.0 devices such as web cams, microphones, headsets and other peripherals to enhance the user experience.

Q: What is the announcement for Microsoft Lync with this 7.6 release of XenApp and XenDesktop and what clients are supported?

A:  With the release of 7.6, Citrix will release a new HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Lync.  The new Optimization Pack for Lync will support Lync Server 2013 while delivering the Lync 2010 client. This will enable customers to upgrade their backend Lync infrastructure to Server 2013 to reap the benefits of higher scalability, uncompromised audio-video quality and optimized support for multiple device types including Windows, Linux and Mac.

Q:  What is the new My App Folder view and Smart Card improvements in StoreFront? 

A:  The new My App Folder view displays applications in a folder hierarchy and includes a breadcrumb path.  New versions of the Receiver support local and remote use of Smart Cards for accessing virtual apps and desktops.   Now Smart Card Authentication using XenApp Services Site enables the use of Linux and Windows thin clients to leverage smart card authentication via Storefront’s XenApp Services Site.  The new folder view and expanded smart card support will help simplify a user’s move from Web Interface to StoreFront.  StoreFront 2.6 is our much feature-rich release to date, although Web Interface support has been extended for XenApp 7.x admins should start evaluating their migration strategy.

Q:  Is there a way to get a list of installed hotfixes in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x like you could do in XenApp 6.5?

A:  Yes, Citrix Director will include a HotFix Inventory that provides a comprehensive list of all applied hotfixes to help ensure the environment is up to date.

Q:  What benefits does the XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 release bring to an existing XenApp 6.5 environment?

A:  Many of the new features and functionality available in 7.6 can be leveraged within a XenApp 6.5 environment, to name a few the new:

  • HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Lync can be applied to XenApp 6.5
  •  Citrix Director can actively troubleshoot users sessions in both XenApp 6.5 and 7.6 environments
  •  Provisioning Services 7.6 breakthrough storage performance technology can be leveraged by XenApp 6.5 Platinum customer
  • StoreFront 2.6 brings more functionality to XenApp 6.5 environments plus the ability to simultaneously enumerate resources from multiple XenApp environments
  • Additional improvements to profile management (User Profile Manager), universal print server, etc.

Q:  I currently have XenApp 6.5 deployed in production, do I need to migrate from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.6 immediately to remain supported by Citrix?

A: No. Citrix is committed to supporting customers running XenApp 6.5 and 6.0. For XenApp 6.5 customers who also want to leverage the new features in XenApp 7.6, Citrix recommends using StoreFront or Web Interface to aggregate 6.5 and 7.6 deployments of XenApp to provide users with a seamless virtual app and desktop experience.

Stay tuned for more information from Citrix via upcoming blog posts on specific features, new Receivers, and upgrade recommendations as the release of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 approaches!