Microsoft to launch new remote desktop apps for iOS, Android

Is Microsoft about to go to war with its long-time virtualization partner Citrix? It sure looks that way, given the imminent arrival of new Microsoft remote desktop apps for iOS, Android, and OS X.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Is Microsoft ready to go to war with its long-time virtualization partner Citrix? It definitely seems that way, given the company's announcement on October 7 that it will be rolling out new remote desktop apps for iOS and Android devices.

Microsoft officials didn't play up the coming Remote Desktop apps, which will be delivered alongside Windows Server 2012 R2. (The apps will be available for download in their respective application stores later this month.) In fact, all they got was a one-sentence mention, buried in a press release.

Once these new Remote Desktop apps, which include an overhauled version of the two-year-old Mac Remote Desktop client, are available, Microsoft will be providing access to virtual desktops on everything from Windows and Windows RT, to iOS, OS X and Android. Users will be able to connect from devices running these operating systems to Windows and Windows Servers to work with applications and files stored there.

As Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for desktop services Michel Roth noted, these new remote apps are "a pretty big deal." He noted that their existence shows Microsoft is "very serious about enabling BYOD [bring your own device] by means of desktop virtualization."

Roth blogged that the new remote clients are "not as basic or as 'v1' as you might expect." He noted that the iOS Remote Desktop app should support iOS 6 and 7 and the Android one should support Android versions as far back as Gingerbread (version 2.3). He added that the RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) level on these new apps is RDP 8(.1), "meaning you get all the user experience goodness that RDP 8 brought to desktop virtualization."

Remote Desktop has been one of the most popular Windows Store apps among Windows 8 and Windows RT users. The licensing requirements for these apps are complex. Client-access licenses and supporting back-end infrastructure are required to make Remote Desktop work on Windows and non-Windows devices.

Microsoft has not yet shared pricing and licensing specifics for the new Remote Desktop clients. And for those asking when/whether Microsoft will deliver a remote desktop client for Windows Phone, I've asked. If I get an answer, I'll update this post.

Update 1: Thanks to reader @gunnarwb, here's part of the pricing equation. The price of RDS CALs for Windows Server 2012 R2 is going up by 20 percent. Per-device RDS CALs will cost $102 per year, while per-user RDS CALs will cost $118 per year, as Redmond Magazine noted. Organizations with RDS CALs for Windows Server 2012 won't have to buy new CALs if they are upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Editorial standards