Changes in 7.x

XenApp and XenDesktop architecture, terminology, and features changed, beginning with the 7.x releases. If you are familiar with only earlier (pre-7.x) versions, this article can acquaint you with the changes.

After you have moved to a 7.x version, changes to later versions are listed in What’s new.

Unless specifically noted, 7.x refers to XenApp version 7.5 or later, and XenDesktop version 7 or later.

This article provides an overview. For comprehensive information about moving from pre-7.x to the latest version, see Upgrade to XenApp 7.

Element differences between XenApp 6 and the current XenApp version

Although they are not exact equivalents, the following table helps map functional elements from XenApp 6.5 and previous versions to XenApp and XenDesktop versions, beginning with 7.x. Descriptions of architectural differences follow.

Instead of this in XenApp 6.x and earlier Think of this in version 7.x
Independent Management Architecture (IMA) FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA)
Farm Site
Worker Group Machine catalog, Delivery Group
Worker Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA), Server OS machine, Server OS VDA, Desktop OS machine, Desktop OS VDA
Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or Terminal Services machine Server OS machine, Server OS VDA
Zone and Data Collector Delivery Controller
Delivery Services Console Citrix Studio and Citrix Director
Publishing applications Delivering applications
Data store Database
Load Evaluator Load Management Policy
Administrator Delegated Administrator, Role, Scope

Architecture differences

Beginning with 7.x versions, XenApp and XenDesktop are based on FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA). FMA is a service-oriented architecture that allows interoperability and management modularity across Citrix technologies. FMA provides a platform for application delivery, mobility, services, flexible provisioning, and cloud management.

FMA replaces the Independent Management Architecture (IMA) used in XenApp 6.5 and previous versions.

These are the key elements of FMA in terms of how they relate to elements of XenApp 6.5 and previous versions:

  • Delivery Sites: Farms were the top-level objects in XenApp 6.5 and previous versions. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, the Site is the highest level item. Sites offer applications and desktops to groups of users. FMA requires that you must be in a domain to deploy a Site. For example, to install the servers, your account must have local administrator privileges and be a domain user in the Active Directory.
  • Machine catalogs and Delivery Groups: Machines hosting applications in XenApp 6.5 and previous versions belonged to Worker Groups for efficient management of the applications and server software. Administrators could manage all machines in a Worker Group as a single unit for their application management and load-balancing needs. Folders were used to organize applications and machines. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, you use a combination of machine catalogs, Delivery Groups, and Application Groups to manage machines, load balancing, and hosted applications or desktops. You can also use application folders.
  • VDAs: In XenApp 6.5 and previous versions, worker machines in Worker Groups ran applications for the user and communicated with data collectors. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, the VDA communicates with Delivery Controllers that manage the user connections.
  • Delivery Controllers: In XenApp 6.5 and previous versions there was a zone master responsible for user connection requests and communication with hypervisors. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, Controllers in the Site distribute and handle connection requests. In XenApp 6.5 and previous versions, zones provided a way to aggregate servers and replicate data across WAN connections. Although zones have no exact equivalent in XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, the 7.x zones and zone preference functionality enables you to help users in remote regions connect to resources without necessarily forcing their connections to traverse large segments of a WAN.
  • Studio and Director: Use the Studio console to configure your environments and provide users with access to applications and desktops. Studio replaces the Delivery Services Console in XenApp 6.5 and previous versions. Administrators use Director to monitor the environment, shadow user devices, and troubleshoot IT issues. To shadow users, Windows Remote Assistance must be enabled; it is enabled by default when the VDA is installed.
  • Delivering applications: XenApp 6.5 and previous versions used the Publish Application wizard to prepare applications and deliver them to users. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, you use Studio to create and add applications to make them available to users who are included in a Delivery Group and optionally, Application Groups. Using Studio, you first configure a Site, create and specify Machine Catalogs, and then create Delivery Groups that use machines from those catalogs. The Delivery Groups determine which users have access to the applications you deliver. You can optionally choose to create Application Groups as an alternative to multiple Delivery Groups.
  • Database: XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x do not use the IMA data store for configuration information. They use a Microsoft SQL Server database to store configuration and session information.
  • Load Management Policy: In XenApp 6.5 and previous versions, load evaluators use predefined measurements to determine the load on a machine. User connections can be matched to the machines with a lower load. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, use load management policies for balancing loads across machines.
  • Delegated Administration: In XenApp 6.5 and previous versions, you created custom administrators and assigned them permissions based on folders and objects. In XenApp 7.x and XenDesktop 7.x, custom administrators are based on role and scope pairs. A role represents a job function and has defined permissions associated with it to allow delegation. A scope represents a collection of objects. Built-in administrator roles have specific permissions sets, such as help desk, applications, hosting, and catalog. For example, help desk administrators can work only with individual users on specified sites, while full administrators can monitor the entire deployment and resolve system-wide IT issues.

Feature comparison

The transition to FMA also means some features available in XenApp 6.5 and previous versions may be implemented differently or may require you to substitute other features, components, or tools to achieve the same goals.

Instead of this in XenApp 6.5 and earlier: Use this in 7.x:
Session prelaunch and session linger configured with policy settings Session prelaunch and session linger configured by editing Delivery Group settings. As in XenApp 6.5, these features help users connect to applications quickly, by starting sessions before they are requested (session prelaunch) and keeping sessions active after a user closes all applications (session linger). In XenApp and XenDesktop 7.x, you enable these features for specified users by configuring these settings for existing Delivery groups. See Configure session prelaunch and session linger.
Support for unauthenticated (anonymous) users provided by granting rights to anonymous user when setting the properties of published applications Support for unauthenticated (anonymous) users is provided by configuring this option when setting user properties of a Delivery Group. See Users.
Local host cache permits a worker servers to function even when a connection to the data store is not available Local Host Cache allows connection brokering operations to continue when the connection between a Controller and the Site database fails. This implementation is more robust and requires less maintenance. See Local Host Cache.
Application streaming Citrix App-V delivers streamed applications, which are managed using Studio. See App-V.
Web Interface Citrix recommends you transition to StoreFront.
SmartAuditor to record on-screen activity of a user’s session Beginning with 7.6 Feature Pack 1, this functionality is provided by Session Recording. You can also use Configuration Logging to log all session activities from an administrative perspective.
Power and Capacity Management to help reduce power consumption and manage server capacity Use the Microsoft Configuration Manager.

Feature support and changes

The following features are not currently provided, no longer supported, or have changed significantly in XenApp or XenDesktop, beginning with 7.x versions.

Secure ICA encryption below 128-bit: In releases earlier than 7.x, Secure ICA could encrypt client connections for basic, 40-bit, 56-bit, and 128-bit encryption. In 7.x releases, Secure ICA encryption is available only for 128-bit encryption.

Legacy printing: The following printing features are not supported in 7.x releases:

  • Backward compatibility for DOS clients and 16-bit printers.
  • Support for printers connected to Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems, including enhanced extended printer properties and Win32FavorRetainedSetting.
  • Ability to enable or disable auto-retained and auto-restored printers.
  • DefaultPrnFlag, a registry setting for servers that is used to enable or disable auto-retained and auto-restored printers, which store in user profiles on the server.

Legacy client printer names are supported.

Secure Gateway: In releases earlier than 7.x, Secure Gateway was an option to provide secure connections between the server and user devices. NetScaler Gateway is the replacement option for securing external connections.

Shadowing users: In releases earlier than 7.x, administrators set policies to control user-to-user shadowing. In 7.x releases, shadowing end-users is an integrated feature of the Director component, which uses Windows Remote Assistance to allow administrators to shadow and troubleshoot issues for delivered seamless applications and virtual desktops.

Flash v1 Redirection: Clients that do not support second generation Flash Redirection (including Citrix Receiver for Windows earlier than 3.0, Citrix Receiver for Linux earlier than 11.100, and Citrix Online Plug-in 12.1) will fall back to server-side rendering for legacy Flash Redirection features. VDAs included with 7.x releases support second generation Flash Redirection features.

Local Text Echo: This feature was used with earlier Windows application technologies to accelerate the display of input text on user devices on high latency connections. It is not included in 7.x releases due to improvements to the graphics subsystem and HDX SuperCodec.

Single Sign-on: This feature, which provides password security, is not supported for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and newer supported Windows operating systems versions. It is still supported for Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7 environments, but is not included with 7.x releases. You can locate it on the Citrix download website: https://citrix.com/downloads.

Oracle database support: 7.x releases require a SQL Server database.

Health Monitoring and Recovery (HMR): In releases earlier than 7.x, HMR could run tests on the servers in a server farm to monitor their state and discover any health risks. In 7.x releases, Director offers a centralized view of system health by presenting monitoring and alerting for the entire infrastructure from within the Director console.

Custom ICA files: Custom ICA files were used to enable direct connection from user devices (with the ICA file) to a specific machine. In 7.x releases, this feature is disabled by default, but can be enabled for normal usage using a local group or can be used in high-availability mode if the Controller becomes unavailable.

Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007: The management pack, which monitored the activity of XenApp farms using SCOM, does not support 7.x releases. See the current Citrix SCOM Management Pack for XenApp and XenDesktop.

CNAME function: The CNAME function was enabled by default in releases earlier than 7.x. Deployments depending on CNAME records for FQDN rerouting and the use of NETBIOS names might fail. In 7.x releases, the Delivery Controller auto-update feature dynamically updates the list of Controllers and automatically notifies VDAs when Controllers are added to and removed from the Site. The Controller auto-update feature is enabled by default in Citrix policies, but can be disabled. Alternatively, you can re-enable the CNAME function in the registry to continue with your existing deployment and allow FQDN rerouting and the use of NETBIOS names. For more information, see CTX137960.

Quick Deploy wizard: In XenDesktop releases earlier than 7.x, this Studio option allowed a fast deployment of a fully installed XenDesktop deployment. The new simplified installation and configuration workflow in 7.x releases eliminates the need for the Quick Deploy wizard option.

Remote PC Service configuration file and PowerShell script for automatic administration: Remote PC Access is now integrated into Studio and the Controller.

Workflow Studio: In releases earlier than 7.x, Workflow Studio was the graphical interface for workflow composition for XenDesktop. The feature is not supported in 7.x releases.

Launching of non-published programs during client connection: In releases earlier than 7.x, this Citrix policy setting specified whether to launch initial applications or published applications through ICA or RDP on the server. In 7.x releases, this setting specifies only whether to launch initial applications or published applications through RDP on the server.

Desktop launches: In releases earlier than 7.x, this Citrix policy setting specified whether non-administrative users can connect to a desktop session. In 7.x releases, non-administrative users must be in a VDA machine’s Direct Access Users group to connect to sessions on that VDA. The Desktop launches setting enables non-administrative users in a VDA’s Direct Access Users group to connect to the VDA using an ICA connection. The Desktop launches setting has no effect on RDP connections; users an VDA’s Direct Access Users group can connect to the VDA using an RDP connection whether or not this setting is enabled.

Color depth: In Studio releases earlier than 7.6, you specified color depth in a Delivery Group’s User Settings. Beginning in version 7.6, color depth for the Delivery Group can be set using the New-BrokerDesktopGroup or Set-BrokerDesktopGroup PowerShell cmdlet.

Launch touch-optimized desktop: This setting is disabled and not available for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 machines. For more information, see Mobile experience policy settings.

Features not in Citrix Receiver or that have different default values

  • COM Port Mapping: COM Port Mapping allowed or prevented access to COM ports on the user device. COM Port Mapping was previously enabled by default. In 7.x releases of XenDesktop and XenApp, COM Port Mapping is disabled by default. For details, see Configure COM Port and LPT Port Redirection settings using the registry.
  • LPT Port Mapping: LPT Port Mapping controls the access of legacy applications to LPT ports. LPT Port Mapping was previously enabled by default. In 7.x releases, LPT Port Mapping is disabled by default.
  • PCM Audio Codec: Only HTML5 clients support the PCM Audio Codec in 7.x releases.
  • Support for Microsoft ActiveSync.
  • Proxy support for older versions: This includes:
    • Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) 2006 (Windows Server 2003)
    • Oracle iPlanet Proxy Server 4.0.14 (Windows Server 2003)
    • Squid Proxy Server 3.1.14 (Ubuntu Linux Server 11.10)

For more information, see the Citrix Receiver documentation for your version.