Citrix Receiver X1

Citrix Receiver X1 is finally coming to fruition! At Synergy 2014, Citrix announced Receiver X1 and provided an impressive demo, but until recently, it appeared that it was another one of those announcements that was destined to fall into a black hole.

Citrix Receiver X1 is principally a means of customizing the interface of virtualized resources that are presented to users. The new appearance is certainly more intuitive and pleasant than the teal bubbles. Given the timing of the Tech Preview release, it seems likely that the final release will be announced at Citrix Synergy 2015 in Orlando next month.

Keep in mind that the Citrix box that appears as part of the presentation of virtualized resources is the only aspect of Citrix that most users know. In most cases, that’s all that they need to know, because the magic of virtualized apps and desktops should happen behind the scenes. But when users experience an issue with logon or accessing Citrix resources, they often assume it is a Citrix problem because something flashed up on the screen that said “Citrix” in large letters.

When Receiver X1 is released, gone will be the days of unorganized application and desktop icons. While such basic functionality has likely been acceptable for some, the existing interface just hasn’t been exciting or sufficient for everyone. Although it has always been possible to incorporate some customizations into the Receiver site, much of this has involved hunting and pecking into the StoreFront configuration files and much trial and error.

Some third-party companies have offered significant customizations as a service, but it has not always been easy or possible to carry forward these customizations when new versions of StoreFront are released. Even once StoreFront 2.7 is released, third-party companies that provide customization will continue to have a market for these services, because the more complex customizations will be beyond the scope (or desire!) of administrators who are focused on functional, not pretty.

Like its Web Interface predecessor, NetScaler will offer a subset of Receiver X1 functionality. Although it won’t have feature parity with StoreFront, it will have some customizations available, such as themes. As with Web Interface, most administrators will probably elect to use the StoreFront feature set due to robustness, customization options, ease of administration, and administrative permissions.

Receiver X1 has applicability to both service provider and enterprise environments. Particularly for service providers, this new functionality inherently enables customization and branding directly through StoreFront 2.7. Branding is very important to service providers, because it ties the end users to them, ensuring that users understand that these virtualized resources are being supplied by that particular service provider.

The Receiver X1 functionality provides a much-improved user interface and is long overdue; however, do users really want to access their Citrix resources via a website? Especially where only one or a few published applications are required, nothing can beat a PNAgent-like interface wherein icons or items are presented straight onto the user desktop, without even accessing a website. Citrix has hinted that this functionality is coming soon by stating that StoreFront “will in [the] future also be used to deliver the UI to native clients.” Maybe that’s one of the announcements that will be made at Synergy 2015?

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