Blog post

XenApp vs RemoteApp: Microsoft just changed the game

By Gunnar Berger | October 08, 2013 | 6 Comments

Last night Microsoft put out a blog “Microsoft unleashes fall wave of enterprise cloud solutions” buried in that long announcement is this little gem:

Further, with Windows Server 2012 R2 Microsoft is introducing the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, available for download in application stores later this month, to provide easy access to PCs and virtual desktops on a variety of devices and platforms, including Windows, Windows RT, iOS, OS X and Android.

As some of you may recall one of the big mistakes I’ve called Microsoft out on is that its RemoteApp platform lacks good clients (see:  Wanted: Client Development for Microsoft VDI). In fact in that blog I called out three paths I foresaw Microsoft taking, the third potential path for  Microsoft was for them to get in the game and not lean on others to build upon the RemoteApp “framework” and instead turn RemoteApp into a “product”. Last night’s press release from Microsoft sends a very clear signal: they are in the game.

I hope this makes a lot of organizations start to ask the question: Can Windows Server 2012’s RemoteApp Replace Citrix XenApp? after all if you ask the question you’ll want to see my research :). In all seriousness, I think its a very important question to ask and that’s why I wrote the research about it early this year. I do plan on updating that paper next year as Microsoft continues to build out its RemoteApp strategy so Gartner clients stay tuned to that. The fact is if RemoteApp is “good enough” this has the potential to displace a lot of Citrix XenApp (now XenDesktop) licenses.

One final note on this: A challenge that still needs to be addressed is how to make Windows applications work well on a touch device, I discussed that in: The Good, the Bad and the Right Way to Deliver Windows Apps on iPads and Androids. Shameless plug I know but all of this is interrelated in our virtual desktop and application delivery strategies (plug!).   🙂

Gunnar Berger


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  • Meshan Naidu says:

    Not sure if RDP is even in the same league let alone ball park of ICA for RemoteApp to be competition as a low bandwidth solution.

  • After using citrix xenapp fundimentals for years, I recently tried Remoteapp.

    Our server of course is windows 2008, with all new 27 inch iMacs as the clients.

    With some odd ways of doing in since the remote webgate does no work on osx machine (i think it looks for active x) i got it to work better than Citrix.

    After you edit what programs you want to run on Remoteapp in windows, you have to create a rdp file, then use that file on the mac client to run just the app.

    Gripes about citrix –

    I was happy with citrix xenapp for about a year, but its extremely buggy on windows, and provides a risk for problems all the time. Plus i was not able to install citrix xen app on my new server. It just crashed right away. I called support and the want $800 just to talk to you!

  • Julien Lecadou says:

    RemoteApp can be a good solution for cloud computing. Microsoft should make RemoteApp less windows ( espacially Windows server ) centric. I envision RemoteApp to be used on tablet ( android and IOS included) this would be a game changer.
    Julien Lecadou

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