Citrix DesktopPlayer for Mac

Let’s face it: Mac usage is increasing within business environments, and the days of IT departments telling users that they’re unsupported if they purchase a computer with an Apple logo are dwindling.

No doubt, the pro-Mac community increased in numbers when Microsoft released Windows 8; more than a few die-hard Windows users were less than pleased and sought alternatives. Even after the release of Windows 8.1 and third-party Start menu utilities, some Windows users remained disillusioned and migrated to Mac.

Citrix’s timing of its DesktopPlayer for Mac is brilliant. The product is hitting the marketplace at an opportune time and is poised to address a growing business need. Look around at the laptop computers that business users carry. Depending on the audience, it’s not uncommon to see that one-third to one-half are Macs. Clearly, the Mac population is no longer chiefly a niche market of graphic artists and marketing professionals anymore.

Citrix DesktopPlayer for Mac could just as easily have been named Citrix XenClient for Mac. The main difference between it and the existing XenClient product is that the DesktopPlayer for Mac is a Type 2 hypervisor, not a Type 1 hypervisor. As a reminder, a Type 1 hypervisor is a bare-metal hypervisor, whereas a Type 2 hypervisor cohabits with the existing operating system.

Citrix DesktopPlayer for Mac falls under the umbrella of XenDesktop. If you have Enterprise or Platinum licensing, you are licensed for this product. Much like XenClient, it uses Synchronizer as the mechanism by which to supply the virtualized desktop to the Mac.

For Mac users, DesktopPlayer for Mac promises to provide the best of both worlds. Users have their personal Macs that they know and love, but now they also have their corporate virtualized desktops based on the Windows operating system. In addition, users can switch between desktops without connectivity to the Internet. While they could do this previously via Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View by connecting to the centralized virtual desktop, this required the user to have and maintain good Internet connectivity. Now, there are no excuses for a Mac user’s failing to finish that report just because the user is off the grid in Timbuktu.

Over the past few years, the strategy behind Citrix XenClient has seemed unclear. After using XenClient exclusively for several months, I struggled with the business use case. From the standpoint of a technical person, it was cool, yes, but how was it relevant for business? I struggled to articulate reasons it might make sense from a business and technical standpoint.

Fast-forward to the last year or so. The product is maturing, and the business use case seems to be growing in relevance. With Citrix DesktopPlayer for Mac, it’s clear that the large number of Mac users is no longer just an afterthought when it comes to virtualization. Mac users are clearly a large business population that wants great business and technical solutions. Supplying Mac business users with a corporate virtualized desktop based on the Windows operating system is brilliant.

So, what’s next? Well, there are all those Android devices coming onto the marketplace…

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Jo Harder
Jo Harder has been involved with virtualization for over 18 years, long before virtualization was the norm. After holding several sales and marketing positions, she started down the path of bits and bytes while at AT&T/Lucent Technologies. She then moved onto Citrix in 1999, where she became a Senior Architect. Her 11-year tenure included a combination of Citrix Consulting and Technical Readiness roles. After leaving Citrix, Jo provided consulting services for various clients for the next year. In her current role at a hosting provider, she is focused on cloud-based solutions for financial industry clients. In February 2015, she was awarded Citrix Technology Professional. Jo's diverse background of sales, marketing, management, and architectural/technical expertise brings a unique perspective to Virtualization Practice. She welcomes input from vendors, industry contacts, and end users and can be reached at

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1 Comment on "Citrix DesktopPlayer for Mac"

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Andrew Wood

While XenDesktop licensing does include XenClient – I understood that the current licensing for the DesktopPlayer for Mac is that you have to have a license to use the player which is an additional cost (due to software in the player that Ctx have licensed). The cost is small – but a cost none the less. Has this changed?

Having worked with XenClient on a number of projects I think there are a range of business cases for using XC to offer benefits of desktop virtualization without specific centralisation – but that’s a different conversation 🙂