• Opinion: XenApp vs XenDesktop

    January 27, 2014

    Blog, XenApp, XenDesktop 5.x

    Hi again!

    First of all, the opinions I express below are my own, not necessarily those of the godfather of this website, Carl Webster.

    Earlier this year, Citrix held Summit, their Partner Conference. Strict NDA applied, but a Citrix employee decided to break it by sending a photo of a special slide into the world, announcing the return of XenApp, in the form of XenApp 7.5.

    Over the pas few days, Citrix TV “leaked” a video announcing the same thing, but this time it was for everyone’s eyes to view.

    The video has been pulled, even from YouTube, but if you follow discussions about the subject on Twitter, one thing can’t be denied: this stuff touches every Citrix consultant out there in their heart.

    I, and I seem to be one of the few, like the return of the XenApp branding. I do understand why Citrix decided to drop the XenApp 7 brand in favor of XenDesktop 7 when they launched in June last year. XenDesktop 7 represents a complete new FMA architecture. It was evolution and revolution rolled into the same product: evolution for XenDesktop 5.x, revolution for XenApp 6.5. Great move, the point was made. Certainly for me, and other Citrix Consultants like me, this made it clear: XenDestkop 7 breaks from the past. But… do customers generally care about underlying architecture? Not so much is my experience. They just want a cost effective solution that works.

    Cost effective… there you have it. XenApp 6.5 Advanced Edition customers were left out in the cold (as you can read in this post from Bram Wolfs: http://bramwolfs.com/2013/05/24/xendesktop-7-are-xenapp-advanced-customers-left-in-the-dark/. That’s one “bad” thing about XenDesktop 7, but one that XenApp 7.5 will solve too I’m told by a number of sources: XenApp 7.5 Advanced Edition is/should be coming.

    But back on the branding topic, shall we? XenDesktop 7 App Edition was often referenced, even by Citrix employees, as XenApp 7. I did too, when trying to explain XenDesktop 7 to an existing XenApp customer, or even new customers, because they all “know” XenApp. XenApp had been with us for years, who remembers the days of MetaFrame or Presentation Server?

    I’m sure every consultant out there, including the ones crying out loud on social media that XenApp should have remained buried, did the same thing: explain XenDesktop 7 App Edition as “the product formerly known as XenApp 7”. We’re all guilty of the same crime here.

    Why did Citrix revive the XenApp brand? My 2 cents: XenDesktop 7 sales were not all that great… partly because of the missing “Advanced Edition”, where Citrix tried to “force upgrade” a loyal customer base? Or partly because of the “difficult” explanation “XD7 App Edition aka XenApp 7”. Who knows? Citrix. Will they tell us? I doubt it. But I did hear them say “brought back by popular demand”, so this tells us something, doesn’t it?

    The loudest “RIP XenApp” voices do agree: XenDestkop 7 was great, because it unified XenDesktop and XenApp into one. This is true as far as architecture goes. But Citrix had tried it before. Back in 2009 (remember the launch of Merchandising Server 1.0?), I attended numerous events touting “you only need one license anymore: XenDesktop”. Yes, that’s right. If you bought XenDesktop licenses, most of them also included the right to run XenApp anyway. Just look at the license file, because the products were not able to keep up with the marketing department: if you downloaded XenDestkop licenses, your license file did include XenApp licenses too.

    My point: as far as licensing goes, XenDesktop was already “unified” in some way for some years. This was not completely new with XenDesktop 7.

    Again, it’s all about the customer, no? The customer “likes” the XenApp brand. So, you propose them a XenApp-like solution, SBC + XenApp for short. Even for customers demanding a VDI solution, this often proved to be the right solution for their needs. But what SKU was offered? XenDesktop. Why? It had all the options: use XenDesktop VDI, Remote PC and XenApp. The customer can choose and switch as needed and keep all options open. Customers like that and that should be the bottom line: what makes the customer happy? XenApp? Then give them XenApp please!



    XenApp 7.5 will be with us at the end of Q1 2014.

    And yes, it includes a XenApp 7.5 Advanced Edition too!

    This is very good news for existing 6.5 Advanced customers: keep your SA active, and you will be eligible for upgrading to the samen XenApp 7.5 edition. Just like it has always been in the past.

    Talking about the past: XenApp 7.5 does have support for the good old Citrix Web Interface 5.4 too!

    About Bart Jacobs

    Bart Jacobs is a Senior System Engineer/Consultant based in Belgium. He started his career back in 1998. One of the first projects he worked on in those days was Citrix Metaframe 1.8 on Microsoft Windows NT 4 Terminal Server codename "Hydra". Over the years, Citrix technology has always been a major theme in his professional career, resulting in becoming a true technical expert in the matter. In the last few years, he has also become an expert in virtualization technology, with a special interest in a real challenger in this business: Citrix XenServer. Bart has founded his own company BJ IT back in 2007 and is mainly working as a (Citrix) consultant now. In 2019, Bart received his Citrix CTA award.

    View all posts by Bart Jacobs

    2 Responses to “Opinion: XenApp vs XenDesktop”

    1. Ivan Says:

      Hi, I liked so much your explanation about Citrix Xenapp 6.5 and future 7.5 and Xendesktop 7.x, but as I read your blog I have a question; you think that return of Xenapp brand is just a commercial stuff or its much more related to architecture, I mean; why a customer have to still use or buy licenses of Xenapp 6.5 FP2 with IMA architecture while Xenapp 7.5 and Xendesktop 7.x adopted FMA? I hope you can clarify this question.

      Thanks a lot.


      • Bart Jacobs Says:

        Hi Ivan,

        First of all, a customer doesn’t HAVE to buy XenApp 6.5.

        XenDesktop 7.x and XenApp 7.5 do use FMA and no longer FMA.

        XenDesktop 7.5 and XenApp 7.5 do share the same codebase though.

        But now there’s a clear upgrade path for current XenApp 6.5 Advanced customers. With Active SA, they can just migrate (not upgrade, it’s a migration) to XenApp 7.5 Advanced Edition.
        This was not the case with XenDesktop 7.1, they had to pay extra to upgrade to XenDesktop 7.0/7.1 App Edition.

        App Edition = Enterprise Edition

        I hope this clarifies it?


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