Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktop 7.18 What’s New

On 4th of June 2018 Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops was released which is the latest Current Release. Within this blog I am going to look at some new features

HDX Battery Notification

With the release of VDA version 7.18 a battery icon will show up in the session’s host notification tray in which the information from the clients battery information will be represented.
This is redirected information, so if a user’s battery runs low during a session the user is now aware, and unexpected shutdown hibernation can be avoided.


Citrix Fast Smart Card

Citrix Fast Smart Card Feature for HDX Card Redirection will be introduced as a phased approach. So Fast Smart Card (FSC) is an enhancement and a improvement over the excisting HDX PC/SC based smart card redirection. It improves the performance when smart cards are used in high-latency WAN situations.
Fast smart cards is not enabled by default on the hosts that a running Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016 or minimal Windows 10. On the client side to enable FSC you have to include the following parameter to the default.ica file on the associated StoreFront site:
The current version has some limitations:
  • Only Citrix Receiver for Windows supports fast smart card. If you configure fast smart cards in the default.ica file, Citrix
  • Receivers that are not for Windows still work with existing PC/SC Redirection.
  • T he only double-hop scenarios that fast smart card supports are ICA > ICA with fast smart card enabled on both hops.
  • Because fast smart card doesn’t support ICA > RDP double-hop scenarios, those scenarios don’t work.
  • Fast smart card doesn’t support Cryptography Next Generation. T hus, fast smart card doesn’t support Elliptic Curve
  • Cryptography (ECC) smart cards.
  • Fast smart card supports only read-only key container operations. For example, a smart card cannot be enrolled with
  • fast smart card.
  • Fast smart card doesn’t support changing the smart card PIN.
Benefits for this is that redirecting the cryptographic operations directly over the HDX Smart Card VC Protocol improves the overall performance in high latency conditions. Also this will be a enhancement for users  for Citrix Cloud Service deployments.


Webcam Hot Plug & Play

With previous versions if a users plugged I a webcam while the session is already established, the session needed to be disconnected and then reconnected for the webcam to be detected for use in the session. Also when users a connecting from a chromebook and there is no availability of the Real Time Optimization Pack this could be a struggle.
In this release, USB Webcams will be detected in any app session. This feature is build in and does not require enabling or configuration.


Thinwire+ Support for H.264 Build to Lossless

In previous versions, build to lossless was JPEG based. Now by default the “Build to Lossless” preference of the Visual Quality policy setting is not H.264 instead of JPEG for moving images.
The H.264 encoding offers superior image quality. The Use Video Codec policy controls that preference with the default being Use when preferred. To force Build to lossless to use JPEG, set the Use Video Codec policy to “Do not use”. If Citrix Receiver does not support Selective H.264, Build to lossless falls back to JPEG regardless of the policy settings.


Thinwire+ Progressive Display for static images.

With the current release HDX Thinwire + can switch to a progressive update mode when the available bandwidth drops or the network latency is going up. If one of the conditions is the case, the image will be compressed and the text quality will be reduced. This feature  is designed to reduce the bandwidth usage.


Profile Management Enhancements

With previous versions their where 2 problems with outlook and performance.
  1. Outlook search index for each user is embedded in the machine-based Windows search index database (Windows.edb). So when a user launches a session to a VDA that have not accessed before the windows search this user is not ready an has to be indexed.
  2. In Outlook when using “Cached Mode” the OST file can be very large. When this file is a part of Profile Management this can be a significant overhead
With the new release the following enhancements are made.
  1. Durin a Profile Management Logon, the user’s Outlook-related search index will be extracted from the Windows local search Index database. This is then written to a VHDX file in the user’s remote profile store. And mounted to the local profile. From this pint the user has their own profile-based version of the Outlook search index database
  2. The user’s Outlook cache file (OST File) is converted to a VHDX and mounted to the local profile


Preliminary Site Tests.

When you upgrade Delivery Controllers and a site to 7.18 (or a later supported release), preliminary site tests run before the actual upgrade begins. These tests include verification that essential Citrix services are running properly, and that the site
database is operating correctly and has been recently backed up. After the tests run, you can view a report. Then, you can fix any issues that were detected and optionally run the tests again. This helps ensure that the upgrade will proceed successfully.
The test consist of the following:
  •  The site database can be reached and has been backed up
  • Connections to essential Citrix services are working correctly
  • The Citrix License Server address is available
  • The configuration logging database can be reached
When upgrading from the command line the tests cannot be skipped. But if you include the /ignore_site_test parameter, any test failure will be ignored and the upgrade wil proceed.


Windows Server Core Support.

In addition to the existing Standard and Datacenter Edition support, you can now install a Delivery Controller and Director on a server running Windows 2016 Server Core and Windows Server 2012 R2 Server Core. The reason for this is to provide a minimal server installation option. Windows Server Core installation has a smaller footprint, smaller attack surface and therefore reduced management.


Citrix Director Application Probing and Reporting.

Application Probing and Reporting is a new feature. Citrix admins can now be informed about the health of a application before it is actually launched by a user. This works by using a probe on a dedicated machine, from the probe will fetch the configuration from Director and execute and the report back to Director.


Citrix Director Other Enhancements

Interactive Session stages breakdown:
This is the time taken to “hand off”keyboard an mouse control to the user after the user profile has loaded. Normally this is the longest phase. Citrix Director will now show these stages in the Logon Duration Panel:
  • Pre-UserInit
  • UserInit
  • Shell
 This will allow a more granular troubleshooting during logon process.
Citrix Director Application Probing and Reporting.
Application Probing and Reporting is a new feature. Citrix admins can now be informed about the health of a application before it is actually launched by a user. This works by using a probe on a dedicated machine, from the probe will fetch the configuration from Director and execute and the report back to Director.

Citrix Provisioning Server Enhancements

Always on tracing

This release provides an update to Always on Tracing (AOT ) functionality. In previous releases, AOT logs were stored in the memory of the PVS Server. In the event of a crash, the Server would lose these log files. To resolve this issue, PVS now allows you to store AOT logs directly to disk. The PVS administrator can use a PowerShell command (Enable-CitrixTrace) on the PVS Server to configure this functionality. By default, this functionality is enabled.

PVS Managed by Citrix Cloud

This release of PVS supports a connector for Citrix Cloud integration. It adds PVS managed VDA to Citrix Workspace Cloud Applications and Desktop Services, providing the same functionality as PVS and XD in on prom deployments.
What is required:
  • XenDesktop Delivery Controller in Citrix Cloud
  • Citrix Cloud Connector
  • PVS Server located on premise (Must be version 7.18 or later)
  • Applications and Desktop Services Remote Powershell SDK
  • Licensing Server must be on-premise


New License Type for using Citrix PVS in Citrix Cloud

PVS 7.18 introduces a new license type (PVS_CCLD_CCS) for used with Citrix Cloud it replaces the existing on-premise license.


Nutanix AHV Host updates

When a Nutanix AHV host is added manually through the Virtual Host Connection Wizard, it doesn’t have enough information to communicate with the Nutanix AHV hosting unit. This occurs because this information is provided by the XenDesktop Delivery Controller, while the Virtual Host Connection Wizard doesn’t connect to the XenDesktop Delivery Controller. In this release, PVS disables the“Verify Connection” button for the manually created Nutanix AHV Host. PVS only supports Nutanix in a XenDesktop environment, using the Xendesktop setup wizard.


There are some more features which have been renewed with the release of 7.18

  • Session Recording (Dynamic Start & Stop)
  • Support for Dynamic User Configuration Files for App-V
  • Receiver for Windows now supports DTLS v1.2 for VDA Connections
  • Citrix License Manager supports User Management.
I hope this will give some insight into the new features.

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