Improving the Citrix User Interface and Experience

Citrix released version 4.2 of Receiver for Windows this week. Ordinarily, new releases of Citrix Receiver aren’t all that noteworthy, but there are a few key features in this release that enhance the user interface and experience. Citrix totally got it right with this release!

Your average end user doesn’t know or care about the back end of virtualization infrastructure. Users just care that applications, desktops, and resources can be accessed quickly and easily, and intuitiveness is a bonus. The enhancements embedded in Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.2 may initially seem minor, but the apparently small items they address serve to increase user delight with virtualized applications and desktops.

I’ve been testing the tech preview version of Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.2 as installed on a Windows 8.1 computer for several weeks, and I have had no issues. The final version was just released and has likewise been stellar. Administrators will likely want to upgrade client devices to this version in short order so that they can take advantage of the new features. The following comments highlight a few key features:

  • Connection Center: For the past few years, for end users, finding the Connection Center was like going through a maze. Reminding users that they could do some self-service by locating Receiver in the task bar, then right-clicking, then clicking About, then clicking Advanced, then clicking Connection Center to find information regarding the server and app connections just added to the frustration that the user was already experiencing. Now, it’s just a right-click away.
  • Start Menu and Shortcuts: Remember the old Program Neighborhood Agent? It was a quick and easy way to integrate applications right into the user desktop. No website to access (or so the user perceives), and no training for the users. It’s back! If users can double click an icon or select it from the Start menu, they know how to access virtualized applications. While it is possible to use this functionality through StoreFront, configuration wasn’t that easy, requiring an initial logon and setup through the StoreFront site. This version also allows administrators to force some settings, including mandatory apps.
  • Touch: Whether your Windows 8.1 users have laptop monitors or have invested in standalone touchscreen monitors, the new version of Citrix Receiver for Windows lets your users’ fingers interact with applications. Even for those environments that are still running XenApp 6.x, touch gestures can now be used.
  • v3.4 Upgrade: Those who have attempted upgrading Citrix Receiver for Windows v3.4 via an automated means have found it painful. That version had to be uninstalled, and remnants of Receiver typically remained in the registry. Even after a newer 4.x version was cleanly installed after a reboot, there were sometimes issues. With Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.2, an upgrade is finally possible.

While there are some functionality improvements, such as USB devices, graphics performance, and more, users don’t typically notice those incremental improvements. Changes to the interface that make it easier for users to access their work resources increase acceptance of virtualization.

Now, if only Receiver for Mac could do all this…

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