What many enterprises may not be aware of is that Citrix offers Windows 2008 R2 desktops on a 1-to-1 basis instead of Windows 7 desktops as an option for Citrix Service Providers. This feature was introduced with the Citrix Cloud Provider Pack back in March of 2012 and was featured in a blog post recently by Citrix. So why might an enterprise want to use Windows 2008 R2 instead of Windows 7? Licensing! Brian Madden wrote about this same concept a while back too here and here.
No worrying about Microsoft VDA licensing or companion device licensing in the future and you can buy unlimited copies of the server OS buying by the processor using Windows Datacenter licensing makes licensing much more straightforward. If you are using Windows 2008 R2 desktops on a 1-to-1 basis you do still need to purchase RDS cals for your users or devices connecting to these desktops but RDS licensing is much simpler when compared to VDA licensing.
Feature limitations of interest with this technology:
- Machine Creation Services (MCS) provisioning is not supported, Provisioning Services (PVS) is
- Personal vDisks are not supported
- VM hosted apps not supported
- Citrix WDDM driver is not used, therefore no Aero remoting
Windows 2008 R2 can be made to look like Windows 7 by turning on the Desktop Experience feature. Here are some resources to help you set this up:
- Delivering a Windows 7 Experience on Windows 2008 R2
- Citrix Cloud App Delivery Setup Tools Guide
- How To Enable Enhanced Desktop Experience in Citrix XenApp 6.5
So my only question is why is this delivery model not available to enterprises in addition to the Citrix Service Providers? I think most enterprises don’t yet realize how complex the VDA licensing is and are probably in violation of various components of it and maybe therefore haven’t evaluated delivery technologies purely on their ability to help them avoid VDA licenses.