Citrix replacement for Microsoft Azure RemoteApp is coming in 2017

The Citrix replacement for Microsoft's Azure RemoteApp service will be available in technical preview before the end of this year and generally available next year.

Microsoft and Citrix revealed on Friday last week that Microsoft was dropping its Azure RemoteApp service, and its replacement would be coming from Citrix in the form of something currently named "XenApp Express."

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Credit: Citrix

The announcement was sudden and unexpected by just about every cutomer, Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and partner (other than Citrix) that I saw commenting over the past few days.

Azure RemoteApp, codenamed "Mohoro," allows users to deploy Windows applications and access them for a variety of devices. Microsoft made RemoteApp generally available in December 2014.

But one set of industry watchers, the virtualization experts at BrianMadden.com, seem to have seen this coming, at least a few days before the announcement, claiming Azure RemoteApp wasn't widely adopted due to a vairety of "technical challenges," making it ripe for replacement.

BrianMadden.com also has a number of details as to what's next regarding the new XenApp Express for Azure, which they say is a temporary name for Azure RemoteApp's replacement.

In short, the new Citrix service will be shown at Microsoft's Ignite conference in late September 2016, with a tech preview coming in mid-fourth quarter this year. General availability is some time in 2017.

More from BrianMadden.com's post:

"At Microsoft Ignite, Citrix will be debuting a yet-to-be-named cloud service built on Azure that offers the same high level functionality as Azure RemoteApp, but with a Citrix-based backend. Ignite will serve as the first public appearance of it, and you can expect a Tech Preview sometime in mid-Q4 with an eventual release early next year. This new service will be sold through Azure Marketplace, and the plan is for Citrix to create a migration tool to help ARA customers move to the new platform.

"This new Citrix XenApp 'express' for Azure (that's a temporary name for the ARA replacement) differs from Citrix's XenApp and XenDesktop Service in a number of key ways. While both platforms allow you to publish applications, only the XenApp and XenDesktop Service will let you publish desktops. The XenApp and XenDesktop Service also comes with the full Citrix Studio management capabilities, full Director monitoring capabilities, and unlimited number of catalogs, and can work on any cloud.

"Conversely, XenApp 'express' for Azure features a simple cloud-based management interface similar to the one ARA customers have now, basic monitoring capabilities, a limit to the number of catalogs (catalogs were called "collections" in ARA) you can have, and only works on Azure. There will be different instance types to choose from based on the expected workload, similar to the way ARA works today with its Basic, Standard, Premium, and Premium Plus tiers for different target user types."

I asked Citrix to confirm these details, and a company spokesperson said the information quoted above is accurate.

For those asking whether Microsoft's decision to drop Azure RemoteApp will also apply to any of Microsoft's on-premises remote-desktop products, a Microsoft spokesperson told me it would not, and that the on-premises remote desktop apps will all continue to move ahead as planned.

At least some Microsoft reps are trying to push the message that Citrix isn't the only Microsoft partner that can deliver desktop as a service. Users continue to be able to use Remote Desktop Services on Azure infrastructure as a service, according to this Microsoft blog post. And there are still some third-party tools for automating Azure desktop hosting, such as those from MyCloudIT, that same blog post contends.

On August 23, Citrix is holding a webinar about new developments in its partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft Executive Vice President Brad Anderson will be one of the speakers.

But based on the agenda, I'm doubtful the pair intend to say much about Azure RemoteApp or Citrix XenApp Express at this event. They instead look to be talking further about the already-announced plan to offer users a way to run Windows 10 desktop as a service using XenDesktop VDI, as well as about some of the other Microsoft-Citrix integrations announced in late May at Citrix' Synergy conference.

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