Microsoft Partners with Citrix on Virtual Desktops. Again.

Posted on July 14, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Microsoft with 8 Comments

While it’s not entirely clear which parts of this partnership are truly new, Microsoft and Citrix are linking up on the future of virtual desktops. And not for the first time.

“As organizations everywhere adapt to new ways of work, they will need to reimagine how and where work gets done,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a prepared statement. “Together with Citrix, we will apply the power of Azure to this challenge, helping our customers seamlessly and securely connect their employees to their applications, so they can be more agile and productive wherever they are.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses around the world to change the way that employees work, while still meeting the speed and security requirements that today’s uncertain business environment demands,” Citrix president and CEO David Henshall added. “Together, Citrix and Microsoft can deliver a powerful digital workspace in a trusted and secure public cloud where employees can access everything they need to engage and be productive whether they are at home, in the office, or on the road.”

As for the specifics, this multi-year agreement builds upon and expands one of the industry’s longest strategic partnerships, as Microsoft so accurately puts it, with Microsoft selecting Citrix Workspace as a preferred digital workspace solution and Citrix selecting Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform. And Citrix says it will move existing on-premises Citrix customers to Microsoft Azure.

As for what’s new, the firms also say that they are developing “a connected roadmap to simplify and accelerate the transition of application workloads to Azure and enhance the performance of Windows Virtual Desktops. Together, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, Citrix Managed Desktops[,] and Windows Virtual Desktops will provide a complete and seamless way for customers to run all their application workloads on Azure and access Windows-based applications across devices or platforms.” And Citrix is also investing in building a Microsoft-centric Citrix Workspace that will “optimize performance, functionality, and micro-apps for Windows Virtual Desktop and Microsoft 365, including Microsoft Teams.”

Put another way, Microsoft and Citrix will both also continue to develop their own unique remote desktop solutions that solve the same problems and will compete for the same customers. Microsoft, seriously. Acquire Citrix already.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Partners with Citrix on Virtual Desktops. Again.”

  1. olditpro2000

    Microsoft, seriously. Acquire Citrix already.

    For sure. For 20+ years the lines between Microsoft and Citrix for remoting have been incredibly blurry.

  2. waethorn

    You hear that?

    That's the sound of the price of your PaaS going up.

  3. bart

    Re: Acquire Citrix already.

    I am unfamiliar with the remote desktop industry. Are there many players in this area? If not, MS probably doesn't want to get into anti-trust territory and therefore 'competes' with Citrix....? Also, MS seems to buy companies that add value to Azure, but isn't buying companies that offer services on top of Azure. In other words, be friends with everybody and make them use Azure. Ka-ching!

    • wright_is

      In reply to Bart:

      They licensed the core technology off Citrix, back in NT 3.51 days and RDP is essentially a branch of Citrix's technology.

      Citrix sells itself as a value-add, on top of RDP. They also do remote application and remote desktop VMs these days. There are a few other players moving into the market, like Parallels.

    • Paul Thurrott

      It's a long story. Citrix alone among Microsoft's competitors/partners has been given a free ride from day one with regards to offering a solution that is identical to what Microsoft offers. It's always been a mystery, and the conspiracy theorists have long figured that the firm had some dirt on Microsoft.
      • pesos

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Weeeeeellllll I think that's a bit of an oversimplification on the tech side... For nearly two decades Citrix was a strong differentiator in the enterprise managed desktop space which Microsoft did not seriously compete in. It wasn't until a couple of revisions into hyper-v that MS reworked their vdi and session based offerings to even come close to what Citrix was offering in the space at any kind of scale. That being said, this move at this point seems like a regression for sure - but again I imagine it all comes down to the management and automation at scale which MS has always been a bit iffy on. Like you said, lack of an acquisition long ago is curious...

        • wright_is

          In reply to pesos:

          Yes. The reason to go with Citrix over RDP in the past was that it was much more efficient.

          We had a 1mbps DSL line at a manufacturing plant and could still support around 40 users there working on a terminal server in HQ.

          RDP couldn't.

        • chrisrut

          In reply to pesos:

          I think the anti-trust angle following the IE debacles was a large factor in convincing MS to not go after the space in a winner-take-all onslaught. That, and Citrix was a bit too pricy for smaller enterprise shops. But MS's clout in the cloud reshaped the world where Citrix needs to live to stay relevant - the Hyper-V and VDI stuff was GREAT even if not as capable as Citrix's offering. Coupled with COVID-driven market shifts I can see Citrix wanting to move down-market at the same time MS wants to keep moving up. So, cooperation may be more remunerative than competition. Add in the push from the EU, and this may not be the time for MS to acquire such a highly visible competitor. Come to think of it, there never really was a good time for that.