Microsoft Using Citrix XenDesktop to Deliver Remote Windows 10 Desktops from Azure

During his Synergy opening keynote on Tuesday, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov made a spectacular announcement: As part of the refreshed Citrix and Microsoft partnership, XenDesktop VDI hosted on Azure will deliver remote Windows 10 desktops from the cloud. To be very clear, Kirill was not speaking about a Windows Server desktop that pretends to be Windows 10. He was talking about the “real thing”. The days of #FixVDA (= broken virtual desktop access licensing) will be gone as soon as this service is available. This is an event the entire RDS and VDI industry has been waiting for. And here are some more details.

During the day-2 Synergy keynote on Wednesday, Citrix Corporate VP Workspace Services Bill Burley asked Microsoft Corporate VP Brad Anderson to join him on stage. Brad explained that from now on the focus areas of the Microsoft and Citrix collaboration are Windows 10, Office 365, mobile and private & public cloud. This includes the announcement of the new Windows 10 VDI service on Azure, which uses Citrix XenDesktop as the VDI platform and integrates with System Center Configuration Manager. The announcement also matches perfectly with the upcoming N-series Azure VMs featuring NVIDIA GPUs for hardware-accelerated remoting.

But there is more. In their session titled “Windows 10 as a virtual desktop”, Citrix Principal Product Managers Vipin Borkar and Gabe Carrejo explained that Citrix provides the Windows 10 VDI service on Azure to manage and monitor the deployments. The goal is to enable great end user experience and enterprise-grade security. On one of their slides there was a note that according to the current time planning this service will be available from Q4 2016, which was confirmed by the presenters when I asked them after the session. I also had the opportunity to speak with Citrix Director Product Marketing Kurt Moody who pointed out that customers will be able to buy the Windows 10 VDI service on the Azure Marketplace. So in the end Microsoft will invoice their customers using this Azure service and forward a portion of the revenue to Citrix for providing and operating the XenDesktop infrastructure on Azure.

At this point you may ask yourself if this will stay an exclusive VDI on Azure offer, only allowing Citrix to deliver real Windows 10 desktops from the cloud. I personally believe that mid to long term Microsoft will introduce more Azure VDI models leveraged by other partners. But Citrix is clearly in the lead at this time and with XenDesktop they have certainly superior VDI management capabilities. In summary, this announcement of a Windows 10 desktop service delivered through XenDesktop on Azure marks an exciting milestone in our industry.