Citrix DesktopPlayer

Citrix DesktopPlayer is a managed client virtualization product for the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems that allows IT administrators to deliver virtual desktops on user- and corporate-owned laptops regardless of the quality of an end user’s network connectivity.

The DesktopPlayer platform uses a Type 2 hypervisor, also called a hosted hypervisor, which means admins install it as a software application on top of the user’s existing OS. It connects back to a management server, called the Synchronizer, in the data center. The Synchronizer provisions and manages Windows virtual machines with the same policies that exist on the host Windows laptop or MacBook. The Synchronizer also requires licensing rights from Citrix. Those rights are included with XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions.  

With DesktopPlayer, users can run a second Windows desktop on a Windows PC, or they can run a Windows desktop on a Mac. They do not have to reboot their devices to switch between the local and virtual desktop. Plus, DesktopPlayer functions like a Web browser, so users can switch it in and out of full screen mode and move the window around however they like.

IT admins can centrally manage DesktopPlayer virtual desktops from a single location. DesktopPlayer also includes automatic provisioning, one-to-many patching and role-based policy management. To protect data on a device that is lost or stolen, DesktopPlayer includes time-based lockout and remote wipe capabilities.

One of the key differences between DesktopPlayer and Citrix’s Type 1 hypervisor XenClient is that it does not erase any personal information already on the laptop during installation, which is why Citrix recommends DestopPlayer for user-owned laptops. DesktopPlayer also works on Macs, and XenClient does not, although both products use the Synchronizer tool.

DesktopPlayer was first available only for Macs, but Citrix added a Windows version with DesktopPlayer 2.1 in October 2015. To run DesktopPlayer, the laptop must be running Windows 7, 8.1 or 10. For MacBooks, the OS must be Yosemite, Mavericks or Mountain Lion. 

Citrix discusses the new DesktopPlayer for Mac with TechTarget's Brian Madden. DesktopPlayer enables MacBook users to run a centrally-managed local Windows virtual desktop, regardless of the quality of their network connection - and even if they can't connect to the network at all.

This was last updated in November 2015

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