Product Documentation

XenDesktop Essentials Service

Feb 01, 2018

The Citrix XenDesktop Essentials Service allows management and delivery of Windows 10 virtual desktops from Microsoft Azure.

XenDesktop Essentials Service is designed specifically for the Azure Marketplace. Citrix and Microsoft partner to deliver an integrated experience for XenDesktop Essentials and Azure IaaS. This partnership gives you a single interface to deliver a complete Windows 10 digital workspace from Azure.

By using XenDesktop Essentials Service, you can:

  • Deploy and secure Windows 10 virtual desktops on Azure
  • Deliver best-in-class user experience by using Citrix HDX capabilities
  • Provide secure access on any device by using Citrix Receiver
  • Manage and administer the deployment from Microsoft Azure and Citrix Cloud

Citrix XenDesktop Essentials Service simplifies Windows 10 deployment. You can deploy desktops quickly, manage at scale, and deliver a rich user access experience from a single management plane.

You manage the Windows 10 desktops by using Studio and you monitor sessions from Director. Users connect to their Windows 10 virtual desktops by logging on with Citrix Receiver.

XenDesktop Essentials, the Citrix Cloud, and Microsoft Azure work together. During configuration, you create a Microsoft Azure subscription. After that, you install the Citrix Cloud Connectors, which provide access to your Azure resources from Citrix Cloud. You then create a Windows 10 master image that includes the VDA. The master image provides the template for desktops you deliver to users.

When you complete those tasks, you create a host connection to Microsoft Azure. Studio and Director are available in your cloud console. Use Studio and Director to manage and monitor your XenDesktop Essentials Service.

Deploy NetScaler VPX to provide secure access to Windows 10 desktops from anywhere. You provide your users with a URL to a workspace or StoreFront.

Users connect to their desktops by using Citrix Receiver, with the URL you provide. When users log on to Citrix Receiver, the Windows 10 desktop icon appears in the workspace or StoreFront window.


For new customers (from December 2017), XenDesktop Essentials includes a workspace URL, usually in the format https://<yourcompanyname> After you set up XenDesktop Essentials, test and share the workspace URL link with your subscribers to give them access to their desktops.

For details about the workspace, see Workspace configuration.

Further updates will follow for customers who purchased XenDesktop Essentials before December 2017. Currently, those customers continue to use cloud-hosted StoreFront, as outlined in this article. (XenDesktop Essentials does not support on premises StoreFront.)

The diagram shows an architectural overview of a XenDesktop Essentials Service deployment.

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How to buy XenDesktop Essentials

For detailed information about buying or canceling XenDesktop Essentials, download the following document.

System Requirements, Prerequisites, and Compatibility

XenDesktop Essentials Service requires certain complementary products and components and specific account permissions for installation, configuration, and operation.

Microsoft Azure

XenDesktop Essentials Service is designed to support Microsoft Azure exclusively. Your Azure environment must meet certain minimum requirements to support XenDesktop Essentials Service:

  • An Azure subscription with an enterprise agreement
  • Windows Server Active Directory or Azure Active Directory Domain Service
  • An Azure Active Directory tenant


Microsoft requires the Azure Active Directory tenant in the Azure subscription to deploy Windows 10 desktops. You can use the Azure Active Directory tenant or another active directory to identify authorized users.

  • An Active Directory domain controller.
  • An Azure Resource Manager (ARM) virtual network and subnet in your preferred region. Configure the virtual network with a custom domain name server (DNS) entry pointing to the domain controller. The virtual network must have one subnet that is large enough to hold the desktops.


Use the same virtual network for the DNS entry and desktop subnet.

  • An Azure Active Directory user with contributor (or greater) permissions within the subscription
  • One virtual machine that has Microsoft Windows 10 installed, including your required customizations and apps

Citrix Cloud Connector

Citrix Cloud Connector authenticates and encrypts communication between Citrix Cloud and your resource locations. With XenDesktop Essentials Service, your resources are located in Microsoft Azure. Citrix Cloud requires that you install the Citrix Cloud Connector on two virtual machines to ensure continuous availability of your resource locations.

For more information about Cloud Connectors, see Citrix Cloud Connector.

The Citrix Cloud Connector servers must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Install the Cloud Connector on Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016 virtual machines in Azure. The virtual machine must have at least 32 GB of disk space and 4 GB of memory (Microsoft Azure Standard A2 v2 virtual machines).
  • Enable .NET 4.5.
  • Install the Cloud Connectors on virtual machines that are domain-joined.
    • The virtual machines must be in the Active Directory domain where User accounts reside.
    • Citrix recommends that you do not install a Cloud Connector on an Active Directory domain controller.
  • Open outbound port 443 to allow access to the internet and the Citrix Cloud service.
  • Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration (IE ESC) during installation.


You cannot clone an installed Cloud Connector virtual machine. Install Cloud Connectors separately on each machine.

Citrix Cloud

  • A Citrix Cloud account
  • Access to the XenApp and XenDesktop Service within Citrix Cloud, which is enabled as a part of your XenDesktop Essentials purchase
  • One Citrix NetScaler VPX configured in ICA Proxy mode. (Optional, for access from outside the corporate network)

Deployment Process Overview

Step 1: Connect your Azure subscription to the XenDesktop Essentials Service
Step 2: Create a host connection
Step 3: Create a pool of Windows 10 desktops
Step 4: Assign Windows 10 desktops to your users
Step 5: Configure NetScaler VPX in Azure (optional)
Step 6: Connect users by using Citrix Receiver