Citrix kills its Application Streaming feature, directs users to App-V

Citrix has officially ceased development and support for its Application Streaming feature, and has directed IT pros to use Microsoft App-V instead.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Citrix Systems Inc. heralded a number of technology updates this week, but what it didn't announce is that its Application Streaming feature is done for, and won't be supported in Windows Server 2012.

Citrix released XenDesktop 7 this week as part of Project Avalon, an initiative that combines XenApp and other virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies to deliver Windows apps and desktops to mobile devices from a cloud architecture.

The Application Streaming feature, last updated in July 2012, isn't included. Citrix stopped developing it and doesn't support it in Windows 8 or Server 2012, said Calvin Hsu, a Citrix spokesperson, during an interview at the company's Synergy 2013 conference here.

Customers can continue to use Application Streaming within existing XenApp deployments until they migrate to Server 2012. When they make the move, they'll have to switch to Citrix partner Microsoft Corp.'s application virtualization tool, App-V.

Citrix first added support for App-V in XenApp 6 in 2010, as an alternative to its own built-in app streaming feature, a move that made customers question Citrix's long-term interest in advancing its technology.

At that time, Citrix insisted it had no plans to divest or de-emphasize its own streaming technology.

Citrix has given up on Application Streaming now because the changes in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 are so significant that it would have required a complete rewrite of XenApp to support the app streaming component, according to Hsu.

Whatever the reason, it's a move that many expected for years but dreaded due to the migration headaches that are sure to follow.

"Moving current implementations of Citrix Application Streaming to Microsoft App-V sounds easy on paper," said Ruben Spruijt, chief technology officer at an IT infrastructure services firm based in the Netherlands. "In reality, it isn't that easy, and overall, it will be resource-consuming without big benefits for end users."

Customers complain that there isn't a migration path; they'll have to re-sequence applications for App-V and learn the new way to stream apps. However, those who upgrade to XenDesktop 7 will get Citrix's application migration software, AppDNA, to help migrate to App-V, Hsu said.

But Citrix's Application Streaming feature isn't widely used, and many say App-V is a better option.

"From a performance-impact point of view, [Citrix Application Streaming] wasn't great," said Spruijt, who does product comparisons for his Application Virtualization Smackdown series.

There are concerns about paying for App-V licensing. However, the Microsoft App-V license is included in the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Client Access License that Citrix VDI customers would already have, Hsu said.

There are some small vendors with application streaming software, but only one other app streaming or app virtualization option on the market for enterprise customers, Spruijt said.

"In reality, the two main application-virtualization vendors for most of the enterprise customers are Microsoft (App-V) and VMware (ThinApp) [because] the use of an application virtualization solution is a longer-term commitment," Spruijt said.

Executive editor Colin Steele contributed to this report.

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