This week, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is in full swing, and it’s the company’s largest partner event of the year. Ironically, not only does Windows Server 2003 officially and finally reach end of life today, but Citrix is making several announcements as well.
At the Microsoft Partner Conference, the coverage is all about cloud, mobility, and Windows 10. “Mobile-first, cloud-first” is the mantra. The cloud and Windows 10 strategies are certainly no surprise and appear to be rather straightforward. The mobility strategy, on the other hand, isn’t clearly defined, especially in view of the on-again, off-again focus that has been associated with Windows Phone and Surface.
While Windows 8 wasn’t quite as bad as the Vista hiccup, it did serve to detract many from Microsoft and helped further the adoption of Google Chromebooks, Apple devices, and other systems. Microsoft is certainly betting the operating system farm on regaining market share with Windows 10.
As far as Windows Server 2003 goes, well, it’s been a good twelve years, but it’s finally time to bid adieu to that operating system. Although some organizations will likely continue to run Windows Server 2003, the security risk places them in a precarious situation. Hackers will no doubt be targeting this server operating system, because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates.
However, Citrix will continue to support XenApp 4.5/5.0 on Windows Server 2003 for another year. For those who can deal with the security risk of the Windows Server 2003 operating system, the Citrix portion will continue to be supported. While this does allow organizations a little extra time to migrate to a newer server operating system and version of XenApp, Citrix may have actually been doing its customers a disservice by continuing to support XenApp on a discontinued operating system. In addition, from a support perspective, this means that Citrix must continue to allocate technical resources for this version for another year, which doesn’t bode well for streamlining and cost containment.
On the positive side, Windows 10 will officially be released by Microsoft on July 29, and Citrix is announcing today that Citrix Receiver for Windows 10 will likewise be available on that date, as will the XenDesktop Virtual Delivery Agent Tech Preview for Windows 10. However, no date for final release of the latter has been announced at this point.
As with all new workstation operating system releases, the first adopters will be those using the operating system on local physical devices. Although Windows 8.1 devices will “automagically” become Windows 10 on that date through Windows Update, updating virtual desktops will take significantly longer—hence why Citrix is releasing only the Tech Preview in late July. Of course, one of the key benefits of VDI is that the operating system upgrade occurs centrally and without user intervention.
While there were probably very few Windows 8.x VDI implementations (I personally don’t know of any, but there had to be a few), Windows 7 will likely remain the most popular virtual desktop for a few months, until administrators upgrade their VDAs or users request Windows 10. At that point, Windows 10 will likely be well received among users.