One of the longest-lived, and least understood, partnerships in the technology world is between Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and citrix (Nasdaq: CTXS). For more than 30 years, companies have worked together to help deliver Business and desktop applications for a variety of devices over a wide range of network connections.
However, despite this important common goal, there appears to have been a fundamental question about the relationship between the two companies for much of those three decades. The problem stems from the fact that Citrix primarily built much of its early work on extending some of the core capabilities of the Windows operating system, and Microsoft eventually included many of these extensions in later versions of the platform. As a result, the perennial question seemed to be: When would you buy Microsoft Citrix?
Fortunately, the two companies have continued to find ways to partner with each other on a technology and business level, and the latest news from the two companies shows that the relationship between the two organizations is as strong as ever. Specifically, Citrix announced that it will be co-bringing its HDX compression and other technologies to a future version of Microsoft’s Windows 365 Cloud PC offering. (Details specific to the show will not be available until later this year.)
HDX, or High Definition User Experience, is designed to improve graphics and audio performance over streaming connections of varying quality levels. Citrix technology has been a mainstay for more than a decade now. In the age of almost continuous video-based calls and meetings, it has become particularly relevant for teams, Webex (CSCO), Zoom (ZM), Meet (GOOG and GOOGL), and other types of online collaboration tools. By integrating it into our cloud-based and software-as-a-service offerings of Windows 365, Microsoft is essentially enabling a way to improve the quality of the user experience for Win365, even over potentially limited speed connections.
This is important because many companies looking at virtual client-type technologies often use them to provide access to specific applications or even entire Windows desktops to users who may be working in multiple locations or who have inconsistent connectivity. Additionally, as we have entered an era in which business-based, mixed business models have persisted for some time, many organizations are looking for as many business-friendly tools as possible.
In addition to HDX, the partnership is expected to allow organizations that already have Citrix-based infrastructure – such as many industries in healthcare and other highly regulated industries – to take advantage of the Citrix client and access existing Citrix environments. One of the original (and still important) parts of Citrix’s business involves providing access to many legacy Windows-based applications that haven’t migrated to the cloud or other, more modern environments. Not only can these apps be accessed and used on a modern Windows PC, but the Citrix infrastructure is designed to allow these apps to run on smartphones, Chrome-based PCs, slim clients, and more. Again, for organizations that want to provide the most flexibility to workers, temporary employees and others who may need to access specific apps to get their work done, this is critical.
Citrix also builds support for a wider range of peripherals so that these types of applications or desktops can take advantage of multiple monitors, connected printers, and other devices. Additionally, for IT managers who need more granular policy controls, Citrix technology will deliver this in Windows 365.
Those who follow this market closely may know that Citrix and Microsoft already have an agreement that allows these types of Citrix technologies to be used in Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop offerings. What this latest announcement does is extend those capabilities to Microsoft’s new Windows 365 service as well. Windows 365 has been touted by some as an easier-to-use, less expensive but undistinguished version of Azure VDI, so Microsoft appears eager to bring some of the benefits of Citrix technology from this offering to Windows 365.
Desktop as a Service (DAAS), virtual clients, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), cloud-based computers, and other variants on the alternative model of direct PC ownership and use is not something businesses need for most employees. However, for many organizations, they provide a very important option for a certain part of the workers. Also, depending on the company’s need for flexibility and speed, a cloud-based model of offering a customized and updated operating system, as well as critical settings and applications for any device, can be very compelling. Additionally, in the event of a merger or acquisition, some organizations need to be able to move a number of users into a new environment – even if only for a transitional period – and cloud-based offerings can be a huge benefit here.
For all of these types of situations and more, it’s good to see the two companies that have been driving the availability of virtual desktops together once again to keep these alternatives fresh and up to date. As they have done in the past, this combination is likely to be vital for some organizations.
Not giving an opinion: Some of the author’s clients are sellers in the technology industry.
Editor’s note: The bulleted summary of this article was selected by searching for the alpha editors.