Product Documentation

Personalize desktops

Mar 19, 2015

The example scenario in this document describes the major steps to follow to provision and deliver two Delivery Groups. One Delivery Group is based on a Windows Server 2008 R2 master image but has a Windows 7 look and feel. The other is based on a Windows 8 master image. The following personalization capabilities ensure a consistent logon experience and customizable applications for users in those Delivery Groups:

  • Policies and Active Directory Group Policy Objects provide global management of user personalization settings across both Delivery Groups.

    For simple scenarios, you might consider using Citrix Profile management, which is installed silently on master images when you install the Virtual Delivery Agent. It lets you define profile behavior on a per-Delivery Group basis.

  • The Personal vDisk feature retains the single image management of pooled desktops while allowing users to install applications and change their desktop settings. This feature is used for the Delivery Group that is based on a Windows 8 image.

Desktop strategy

A new corporate desktop strategy means you want to virtualize as many corporate desktops as possible. In this example, you begin with the desktops in two of your organization's teams.

  • The Accounts team use a large number of physical workstations installed with several standard financial applications. The workstations run Windows 7. To replace these with virtual desktops, create a Windows Server 2008 R2 Delivery Group with a Windows 7 look-and-feel for this team.

    Members of the Accounts team do not need to install their own applications, so they do not require Personal vDisks. However, they typically customize the applications on their physical machines (for example, select a home page). To preserve personalized settings in your new virtualized environment use profile management policies.

  • The Sales team are eager to upgrade to Windows 8 on workstations that they use to test their customers' applications. The team must be able to install and uninstall the desktops themselves, so use the Personal vDisk feature to enable that capability.

Desktop environment

The sample scenario assumes the following about your environment:

  • Your network has fast, low latency connections
  • You have estimated the space needed for Personal vDisks based on the actual and expected levels of personalization in the enterprise

To implement the new desktop strategy effectively, use these required components:

  • A supported hypervisor
  • XenApp or XenDesktop
  • A provisioning solution:
    • Machine Creation Services (MCS) is available by default if, when creating an application and desktop delivery site, you configure a Host and specify that MCS is to create VMs.

      Use of MCS provides consolidated administration through Citrix Studio.

    • Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) is another option for use with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. To prepare for Provisioning Services use, you must separately install the Provisioning Services server and configure a Provisioning Services master vDisk image. VDA installation installs the Provisioning Services agent on the master images for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

      You must use the Provisioning Services console to manage Provisioning Services.

    Note: A provisioning solution is not required to deploy unmanaged physical desktops.
  • Master image for Windows Server 2008 R2 and for Windows 8
  • Citrix Receiver, installed on a user device to test access to your new virtual desktops


Studio is the management console that enables you to configure and manage your deployment, eliminating the need for separate management consoles for managing the delivery of applications and desktops.

Studio is a Microsoft Management Console snap-in that displays all of the objects in your deployment. It provides various wizards to guide you through setting up your environment, creating workloads to host applications and desktops, and assigning applications and desktops to users.


After installing required components, configure your environment using the following general steps.

  1. To ensure business continuity, enable the AlwaysOn Availability Groups feature in SQL Server 2012.
  2. After you install the mirror database software on a different server, use Studio to create a full deployment Site on the server where you installed the Delivery Controller. Depending on your database permissions, Studio will configure the principle and mirror Site Configuration Databases, or you can generate scripts that your database administrator can use to configure them. The Controller then automatically recognizes that the Site Configuration Database is replicated and uses the mirror if necessary.

    When creating the site, select the storage location for Personal vDisks. Although you store Personal vDisks (.vhd disks) physically on the hypervisor, they do not have to be in the same location as other disks attached to the virtual desktop. This can reduce the cost of Personal vDisk storage.

  3. Use the Create Machine Catalog wizard to create two catalogs for your two master images:
    • A Server OS machine catalog for the Accounts team's Windows Server 2008 R2 desktops.

      If using Machine Creation Services: Because users do not need to connect to the same instance of a desktop each time they log on, specify virtual machines of the random type.

    • A Desktop OS machine catalog for the Sales team's Windows 8 desktops.

      If using Provisioning Services: Create the catalog by connecting to a Provisioning Services server and selecting a suitable device collection. Because users want a highly personalized desktop, specify virtual machines of the static type to which you attach Personal vDisks. Also specify the size of the vDisks and the drive letter to use for them.

      Tip: Remember to run the Personal vDisk inventory if you change the master image used in the Desktop OS machine catalog. When you do this depends on your Provisioning Services setup.
  4. Using the Create Delivery Group wizard, create two Delivery Groups for your two catalogs:
    • One containing desktops and applications for the Accounts team
    • One containing desktops for the Sales team

    To each Delivery Group, add accounts for the users in each team (so the right people can access the right desktops). Also add a test user account for each team.

    To ensure a consistent experience when an Accounts user connects to different, randomly assigned desktops in that team's catalog, use profile definition policies to specify features such as the location of any redirected folders.


Test the user experience as follows:

  1. Confirm that your new desktops are registered with the Controller by selecting your Delivery Groups in Studio and clicking Test Delivery Group. Follow the advice in any errors that are displayed.
  2. From the user device, log on to Receiver as a member of Accounts.

    Is your Windows 7 desktop displayed correctly in the Desktop Viewer? Does it look and behave like a Windows 7 desktop even though it was created from a Windows Server machine? Change an application setting or preference that will be saved in your profile; then log off and on again. Is the new setting or preference saved?

  3. Repeat the last step, logging on to Receiver as a member of Sales.

    Is your Windows 8 desktop displayed correctly in the Desktop Viewer? Do you have a drive (the Personal vDisk) that has the letter you specified while creating the machine catalog for this desktop? Can you install applications and save data on that drive?