Citrix has released XenApp 7.6 and XenDesktop 7.6, which includes new enhancements in the areas of faster access to virtual apps with higher connection resiliency, improved graphics rendering, and new app-usage reporting and monitoring tools.
Key features in this release
This version of XenApp and XenDesktop includes new features that make it easier for users to access applications and desktops and for Citrix administrator to manage applications:
- The session prelaunch and session linger features help users quickly access server-based hosted applications by starting sessions before they are requested (session prelaunch) and keeping application sessions active after a user closes all applications (session linger).
- Support for unauthenticated (anonymous) users means users can access server-based hosted applications and server-hosted desktops without presenting credentials to StoreFront or Citrix Receiver.
- Connection leasing makes recently used applications and desktops available even when the Site database in unavailable.
- Application folders in Studio make it easier to administer large numbers of applications.
- Other new features in this release allow you to improve performance by specifying the number of actions that can occur on a Site’s host connection, display enhanced data when you manage and monitor your Site, and anonymously and automatically contribute data that Citrix can use to improve product quality, reliability, and performance.
Instant Access to Apps
- Provide users with fast, instant access to mission-critical apps to improve productivity and enhance the user experience.
- Expedite user logon with newly improved pre-launch technology, which creates a local-like app launch experience by expediting the cumbersome user logon process.
- Instant reconnect with session linger keeps the user session open after the user closes the app, to provide a quick app reconnect or enable the user to open a new app without repeating the logon process.
- Fast, secure anonymous access with login bypass enables unauthenticated access to apps that contain their own authentication process and security measures.
- Improved connection resiliency with database connection leasing caches the results of successful users’ connections for any number of days set by an admin.
Superior User Experience
- XenApp and XenDesktop is optimized for improved scalability, intelligent graphics rendering and better integration with mobile devices over any network.
- Improved graphics performance by improving image sharpening, enhancing visually lossless compression, and extending DirectX/2D rendering capabilities.
- USB 3.0 ready, enabling new Receivers coming for Windows and Linux to provide users with a plug-n-play capability for web cams, microphones, headsets and other peripherals to enhance the user experience.
Session prelaunch and session linger
The session prelaunch and session linger features help users quickly access applications by starting sessions before they are requested (session prelaunch) and keeping application sessions active after a user closes all applications (session linger). These features are supported for Server OS machines only.
By default, session prelaunch and session linger are not used. A session starts (launches) when a user starts an application and remains active until the last open application in the session closes. You can enable the features for all users in a Delivery Group or only for specified users.
There are several ways to specify how long an unused session remains active if the user does not start an application: a configured timeout and two server load thresholds. You can configure all of them; the event that occurs first will cause the unused session to end.
Support for unauthenticated (anonymous) users
When creating or editing Delivery Groups containing Server OS machines, you can now allow users to access applications and desktops without presenting credentials to StoreFront or Citrix Receiver. For example, when users access applications through kiosks, the application may require credentials, but the Citrix access portal and tools do not.
When you configure the Delivery Group, you can grant access to authenticated users, unauthenticated users, or both. When you grant access to unauthenticated (anonymous) users, you must provide an unauthenticated StoreFront store.
To ensure that the Site database is always available, Citrix recommends starting with a fault-tolerant SQL Server deployment by following high availability best practices from Microsoft. However, network issues and interruptions may prevent Delivery Controllers from accessing the database, resulting in users not being able to connect to their applications or desktop.
The connection leasing feature supplements the SQL Server high availability best practices by enabling users to connect and reconnect to their most recently used applications and desktops, even when the Site database is not available.
Although users may have a large number of published resources available, they often use only a few of them regularly. When you enable connection leasing, each Controller caches user connections to those recently used applications and desktops during normal operations (when the database is available). If the database becomes unavailable, the Controller enters leased connection mode and “replays” the cached operations when a user attempts to connect or reconnect to a recently used application or desktop from StoreFront.
You can organize applications in folders, which makes it easier to administer large numbers of applications in Studio.
By default, applications in a Delivery Group appear in a single folder. From the Delivery Group display in Studio, you can create additional folders and move applications into them. Moving, nesting, and renaming folders are easy drag-and-drop operations; you can also use Actions menu items. Additionally, you can specify folder destinations and create new folders when you add applications to a Delivery Group.
XenApp 6.5 migration
The XenApp 6.5 migration process helps you more efficiently and quickly transition from a XenApp 6.5 farm to a Site running XenApp 7.6 (or a later supported release). This is helpful in deployments that contain large numbers of applications and Citrix group policies, lowering the risk of inadvertently introducing errors when manually moving applications and Citrix group policies to the new XenApp Site.
- Run the XenApp 7.6 installer on each XenApp 6.5 worker, which automatically upgrades it to a new Virtual Delivery Agent for Windows Server OS for use in the new Site.
- Run PowerShell export cmdlets on a XenApp 6.5 controller, which export application and Citrix policy settings to XML files.
- Edit the XML files, if desired, to refine what you want to import to the new Site. By tailoring the files, you can import policy and application settings into your XenApp 7.6 Site in stages: some now and others later.
- Run PowerShell import cmdlets on the new XenApp 7.6 Controller, which import settings from the XML files to the new XenApp Site.
- Reconfigure the new Site as needed, and then test it.
Citrix Customer Experience Improvement Program
The Citrix Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) gives you the opportunity to contribute to the design and development of Citrix products. When you enroll in the program, Citrix collects anonymous information about your deployment, which is used to improve product quality, reliability, and performance.
It’s easy to enroll in the program after you create or upgrade a Site. You can also opt in or out of the program at any time by selecting Configuration in the Studio navigation pane and following the instructions.
Enhanced connection throttling settings
To improve performance, you can now specify the maximum number of simultaneous actions, simultaneous Personal Storage inventory updates, and actions per minute that can occur on a host connection.
Enhanced reporting in Studio
Studio displays more detailed status and error reporting when updating PvD images, and displays comprehensive licensing alerts when you are in the licensing node.
New features in Director
Licensing alerts making you aware of issues that may impact user connections. Director also displays a recommended action to correct the condition. Some of the conditions displayed in Director are:
- All licenses have expired.
- Licenses are about to expire.
- Citrix license grace period has expired.
- The Supplemental Grace Period is active, and all installed licenses are currently in use.
View hosted applications usage. You can select the Delivery Group and time period to view a graph displaying peak concurrent usage and a table displaying application-based usage. From the Application Based Usage table, you can choose a specific application to see details and a list of users who are using or have used the application.
Monitor hotfixes. You can view the hotfixes installed on a specific machine VDA (physical or VM) using the User Details or Machine Details view.
The filtering feature has been expanded. Filter data is clickable and leads to User Details, Machine Details, Endpoint Details, and Anonymous Sessions.
Director is compatible with XenApp 6.5. You can use Director to monitor your XenApp 6.5 deployments.
Citrix AppDNA accelerates the migration and transformation of desktop and web applications for new environments through rapid analysis, automated application remediation and packaging, and daily application management. AppDNA 7.6 includes a new Build Assessment solution that tests whether applications will work on additional builds of the same OS family. AppDNA 7.6 analysis enhancements now indicate whether required applications, application frameworks, and files are present, whether enabled GPOs will cause issues, and whether web applications are compatible with Citrix WorxWeb.
Citrix StoreFront 2.6
Simplified store configuration in the administration console. The updated StoreFront console simplifies the StoreFront configuration for the following features:
- User subscriptions
- Set session timeout for Receiver for Web
- Show domains list in logon page
Receiver for Web My Apps Folder View. This new view displays the applications in a folder hierarchy and includes a breadcrumb path for unauthenticated and mandatory stores. This folder view can help your users move from Web Interface to Receiver for Web.
Kerberos constrained delegation for XenApp 6.5. StoreFront with Kerberos constrained delegation enables pass-through authentication, eliminating the need for the client and device to run Windows with Receiver.
Single Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) access. With this feature, you can provide access to resources internally and externally using a single FQDN.
XenApp Services Support smart card authentication. The StoreFront server authenticates using smart cards to XenApp Services Support sites and does not require specific versions of Receiver and operating systems.
Receiver for Android, iOS, and Linux smart card authentication. New versions of Receiver support local and remote use of smart cards for accessing apps and desktops.
Extensible authentication. Support for extensible authentication provides a single customization point for extension of StoreFront’s form-based authentication. Worx Home and Receiver for Web use it to authenticate with XenMobile and XenApp and XenDesktop for both internal (direct) and external (using NetScaler Gateway) access scenarios.
Support for Citrix Connector 7.5
Citrix Connector 7.5 provides a bridge between Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and XenApp or XenDesktop, enabling you to extend the use of Configuration Manager to your Citrix environments. Citrix Connector 7.5 support now includes the Platinum editions of XenApp 7.6 and XenDesktop 7.6.
Support for Receiver for Chrome 1.4 and Receiver for HTML5 1.4
Receiver for Chrome enables users to access virtual desktops and hosted applications from devices running the Google Chrome operating system. Users access these resources through Receiver for Chrome, and their desktops and applications are displayed in a single window
Receiver for HTML5 is hosted on StoreFront servers and enables users to access virtual desktops and hosted applications from a web browser. Users can access desktops and applications within their web browsers without needing to install Citrix Receiver locally on their devices.
In this release, both these Receivers include the ability to convert documents to PDF from hosted applications or applications running on virtual desktops and view them on a local device or print to a locally attached printer; enhanced clipboard operations; end-user experience metrics; and the ability to track licence usage for hosted applications.
Support for HDX Real-Time Optimization Pack 1.5 for Microsoft Lync
HDX Real-Time Optimization Pack 1.5 for Microsoft Lync supports Lync-certified USB phones, mixed Lync 2010 client and Lync Server 2013 configuration, and asynchronous upgrades.
For information, see HDX Real-Time Optimization Pack 1.5 for Microsoft Lync.