Chromebook / Chromebox for XenApp 6.5

Citrix recently announced that the newly released Receiver for Chrome 1.5 now supports Web Interface 5.4. While that may not seem significant at first, let’s revisit what has changed with Chromebook, as well as with Chromebox, in the interim and take a look at the impact on business adoption. This new combination changes the cost and complexity of virtualization for XenApp 6.5 shops in particular.

First, let’s review some history regarding Receiver for Chrome. Before the release of Receiver for Chrome 1.5 a few weeks ago, StoreFront 2.5 or 2.6 was a required component. Of course, XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x requires StoreFront, so that requirement didn’t hinder Receiver for Chrome adoption for those users. However, for the large percentage of XenApp 6.5 customers who were not using StoreFront yet, using Chrome operating system devices was not within the realm of possibility. XenApp 6.5 shops that were still using Web Interface were unable to use Chromebook and Chromebox devices to access published applications and desktops.

Chromebook was originally targeted toward college students who primarily needed Internet access via a browser. It’s a low-cost, laptop-like device that uses the Chrome browser to get to the Internet and doesn’t do much more. The concept of businesses adopting Chromebook seemed farfetched initially. But wait a minute…a device that is inexpensive, only accesses the Internet, and is virus-free?

Those three features fit in well with enterprises’ need for devices with which to access virtual resources. For XenApp/XenDesktop users, Chromebook and its thin client–like counterpart, Chromebox, make sense. After all, the devices only require Internet connectivity and a browser in order to access the full array of Citrix resources. But as stated above, StoreFront 2.5 or 2.6 was a requirement until recently, so all the pieces weren’t in place until the Receiver for Chrome 1.5 release occurred in recent weeks.

To take this one step further, thin client vendors may be a bit unhappy with this release, because it’s quite possible that their potential clients may instead choose to acquire Chromebox devices. Chromebox devices contain the same ports (two monitor ports, headset jack, Ethernet, and USB) and can be purchased for about $200 USD—that’s similar functionality and about 50% of the price tag. Yes, half!

It’s great to see that Citrix is listening to its customers and extending support for Web Interface 5.4 to include Receiver for Chrome. In retrospect, this should have happened at least a year ago, because Citrix should have seen that Chrome OS device adoption was increasing within businesses. Better late than never!

So, let’s bring this full circle. Say you’re running XenApp 6.5 (which is deployed in about two and a half times more shops than XenApp 7.x), and you must replace end user devices or bring on a large number of new users with a reduced budget. As an alternative to thin clients, there is now an even lower-cost option for end user devices, i.e., Chromebook and Chromebox, which was not technically feasible previously. For industries such as education, in which end user purchases of Chromebook and Chromebox devices already exist, access to XenApp 6.5 resources is now possible after a simple download of Receiver for Chrome. In any event, it’s a welcome new option for some organizations.


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