In the context of: The Microsoft and Citrix partnership is one of the longest-running, and least understood, in the tech world. For more than 30 years, companies have worked together to help deliver business and desktop applications to a variety of devices over a wide range of network connections. However, despite this 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 built much of its early work on extending the core capabilities of the Windows operating system, and that many of these extensions were eventually incorporated by Microsoft 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 this latest news shows that the relationship between the two organizations is as strong as ever. Citrix has announced that it will co-brand its HDX compression and other technologies into a future version of its Windows 365 Cloud PC offering.
Designed to improve graphics and audio performance over streaming connections, HDX, or High Definition User Experience, has been Citrix’s core technology for more than a decade. In the age of almost continuous video-based calls and meetings, it has become especially relevant for Teams, Webex, Zoom, Meet, and other types of online collaboration tools. By integrating it into the cloud-based and SaaS-based Windows 365 operating system, Microsoft provides a way to improve the quality of the user experience for Win365, even over 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 entire Windows desktops to users who may be working in multiple locations or who have inconsistent connectivity. Given that 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 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 who may need access to specific applications to get their work done, this is very important.
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. For IT managers who need more granular policy controls, Citrix technology will make this available 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 Azure Virtual Desktop. What this latest announcement does is extend those capabilities to Microsoft’s Windows 365 service as well. Windows 365 has been positioned by some as an easier-to-use, less expensive, but undistinguished version of Azure VDI, so Microsoft is keen to bring some of the benefits of Citrix technology 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 to 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 nice to see the two companies that have been driving the availability of virtual desktops come 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.
Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC, a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and the professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.