ApplicationVirtualization

Citrix Shops: You’d Better Upgrade to StoreFront 3.0 … Or Else!

ApplicationVirtualization

While you might think that you must upgrade to StoreFront 3.0 because of something Citrix-related, that’s probably not the case. Only if your users prefer Chrome as the local web browser for accessing Citrix resources and don’t wish to experience issues must you upgrade to StoreFront 3.0. We can blame it on Netscape and Google.

Upgrading to StoreFront 3.0 from a Citrix perspective is optional. And that’s the way that it should be. We’ll loop back to that in a moment.

In the world of virtualization, technologies often have underlying dependencies. As such, Microsoft’s cessation of J# support, which impacts Citrix Web Interface’s end of life, and Google’s discontinuation of support for a plugin that disrupts StoreFront users both directly impact technology companies that build their products on existing APIs, programming languages, and the like. As much as Citrix and other technology companies want to look toward the future and enhance products, it is often necessary to take precious development time to address soon-to-be obsolete underlying dependencies.

So, what has changed on the Google Chrome side? Starting with Chrome version 42 and later, support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) was disabled by default for security reasons, but it can be enabled. Although the current version is 43, starting with version 45, NPAPI will be completely removed.

Because Chrome users accessing their Citrix resources with Receiver depend on NPAPI, it’s necessary to upgrade StoreFront to newly released version 3.0 in order “to use another technology to remove the dependency on NPAPI.” Google has been making announcements regarding the discontinuance of NPAPI for nearly two years, so this is certainly not a surprise.

If you have users who love Chrome, your alternatives are upgrading to StoreFront 3.0 or telling your users that they will need to use another browser or to deal with some issues. Internet Explorer and Google Chrome each battle with proclamations of market leadership. Depending on the statistics source, market share varies widely and ranges between 25% and 50% for each browser. Google Chrome has a tremendous following, and the increasing popularity of the Chromebook and Chromebox is surely adding to Google’s market share.

NPAPI doesn’t impact Internet Explorer, because it hasn’t supported NPAPI plugins since the days of 5.x. As such, if upgrading to StoreFront in order to accommodate Chrome users isn’t possible in the near term, one option is to inform users that they should use Internet Explorer or another browser to access Citrix resources…but it may be necessary to adorn riot gear when delivering that message. Lastly, it may be more palatable for users to maintain usage of their beloved Google Chrome until the upgrade to StoreFront 3.0 can be performed and in the meantime to deal temporarily with some pesky issues:

  • User is prompted to install Citrix Receiver at each login.
  • ICA file is saved rather than automatically launched.
  • Workspace Control is disabled.

On the lighter side, StoreFront 3.0, which was released last week as part of XenApp/XenDesktop Feature Pack 2, includes the long-awaited Receiver X1 functionality that enables customization of resources. While not dependent on StoreFront 3.0, Framehawk integration for Windows devices is also included in this release. Framehawk takes HDX to a new level and further differentiates the Citrix user experience from that of competing virtualization products.

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Jo Harder
Jo Harder has been involved with virtualization for over 17 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 joharder@virtualizationpractice.com.
Jo Harder

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