Citrix Receiver for Windows 8 RT – How to get it working.

As you guys know I got a Windows Surface a couple months ago (at launch) and have been trying to use it as much as I can, integrating it to anything I may have up and running.

The first test I did was to get the Windows Server 2012 RemoteApp feed going with it. It does work and provides decent performance. Published apps in seamless windows, it is all there and works pretty much out of the box. How to get that working is the subject for another post and for the book I am finishing with Freek Berson (by the way, it is being officially sent to Apple March, 1st – what happens after, we will learn later).

As I do have a XenApp/XenDesktop environment I wanted to use the Surface as a client. That required me setting up StoreFront (and dealing with its SQL issues – addressed on this post) and the Access Gateway, running on a Netscaler VPX appliance.

So as of today this is what I have:
– Netscaler VPX NS10.0: Build 72.5.nc.
– StoreFront 1.2 running on Windows Server 2008 R2.
– Both running under VMware ESX 5.0. Yes, I did not update it.

The key thing with the Surface is to get the damn Access Gateway Session Policy/Profile done properly. The steps you need to follow are actually simple and you can potentially have all this configured in 5 minutes. I assume your Netscaler VPX with an Access Gateway virtual server is already up and running for this.

1. Under Access Gateway > Virtual Servers find your virtual server, right click it and select ‘Open’.
CAG1 2. Click on the Policies tab and then Clientless. Then click ‘Insert Policy’ at the bottom.
CAG2
3. Under ‘Profile’ simply select ‘ns_cvpn_default_profile’. It will have all the options pre-set for you.
CAG3
4. For the expression what you need is this: HTTP.REQ.HEADER(“User-Agent”).CONTAINS(“WindowsRT”)
CAG4 So this is what your clientless policy will look like.

Before you ask, yes it has to be WindowsRT and NOT WinRT. I know WinRT is what is used for Windows 8 but for RT for some reason is WindowsRT. I tried and tested with Jarian the WinRT and no go. Does not work with the Surface. Once we switched to WindowsRT, all good.

5. Now on the Policies tab, Session you will need a policy (and a profile for it) with the lowest number for the priority (so it is top priority) that will look like this (do not worry, let’s see how to create it step-by-step):
CAG5 To create it, click on ‘Insert Policy’ at the bottom and once the screen shows up you will need to create a new profile first (click ‘New’ beside ‘Request Profile’. The first thing to be changed is on the Client Experience tab. You need to change:
– Home Page: set it to your StoreFront site. Mine for example is set to https://sf.iqbridge.ca/Citrix/IQBridgeWeb (checked).
– Clientless Access: ON (checked).
– Single Sign-on to Web Applications: checked.
– Credential Index: Primary (checked).
CAG6 On the Security tab:
– Default Authorization Action: ALLOW (checked).
CAG7 On the Published Applications tab:
– Make sure ICA Proxy is NOT checked (has to be showing as OFF).
– Web Interface Address: the EXACT same as you set as Home Page on the Client Experience tab. So in my case https://sf.iqbridge.ca/Citrix/IQBridgeWeb.
– Single Sign-on Domain: your AD Domain name.
CAG8Now all you need is to make sure the actual Session Policy looks like this (by adding the expression):
CAG9That is all regarding Session Policies/Profiles and Clientless policies/profiles for the Windows RT.
Once you launch the Citrix Receiver on the Surface simply enter the address for the Access Gateway like https://mycag.mydomain.com. It will ask you for credentials and once entered you should see your apps (assuming you already set apps) or it will allow you to pick the available apps.
I then tested this internally and externally (over an LTE Hotspot) and it worked flawlessly in both cases. It is worth mentioning that every time I would screw something app on the AG configuration (i.e. use WinRT instead of WindowsRT on the expressions) the Surface Receiver not only did not find the apps (would throw an error) but once the AG was configured properly it would still refuse to work requiring an uninstall and a reinstall of the Citrix Receiver on the Surface. Keep that in mind. The current version is still a little temperamental…

If you see anything wrong with this post or need more info just give me a shout.

Cheers.

CR

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Windows Surface + XenApp + RDS 2012

As part of my work I try as much as I can to be up to date on all the platforms and its clients out there in the VDI/SBC space. That said of course I did have to get a Windows Surface tablet.

Before going a little deeper on my review, let’s clarify a couple things. This is the ARM based device (what means no Intel CPU inside) running Windows 8 RT. It is basically Windows 8 as you will find on any other device that runs it but as it is not Intel based, its software has to be compiled to run on the ARM CPU. Secondly, Microsoft has tighter controls on this device than on its sibling (the upcoming Windows Surface Pro) what means you can only install apps that come from the Windows Store.

Before you bitch about that, keep in mind the iOS devices are no different. You can only, officially, install apps from the Apple AppStore and whatever you can run on your Mac (running OSX 10.X) does NOT run on the iOS devices as they run on a different CPU than the Mac ones (Intel at this stage). So pretty much the exact same scenario with the Windows Surface device.

So what have I tested so far? A couple things:

– Offline usage (running locally installed apps, varying from games to real office ones)
– Accessing hosted apps on Windows Server 2012 (RDS Session Host with RemoteApps installed) over RDP8.
– Accessing hosted apps on Windows Server 2008 R2 with XenApp 6.5 installed over ICA/HDX.
– Accessing hosted desktops running Windows 7, hosted under ESX 5.0 with XenDesktop 5.6.

For the Citrix stuff you need the latest Citrix Receiver for Windows 8 RT. It is on the Windows Store. Contrary to previous versions this one does NOT require Citrix StoreFront and DOES work with Citrix Secure Gateway (what was a big surprise for me). Here you have a screenshot showing the Citrix Receiver on the Microsoft Surface:

Citrix Receiver for Windows 8 RT

Performance wise it did work perfectly when connecting to all the scenarios above. With RDP8 I was even able to run some WAN scenarios using my Apposite box (the mighty LinkTropy Mini) as you can see in the following video:

Windows Surface – RDP 8 WAN Testing

So what do I think about the Windows Surface as a potential iPad replacement? Well there are some MAJOR advantages on it and let me explain all I can see:

– Windows Surface runs Microsoft OS/Software. That means a couple things. First, RDP support is simply unmatched. That means whatever Windows Server 2012 with RDP8 delivers, it is there for you. The same can be said of ICA/HDX. This is for sure a big thing if you are after the best experience possible when accessing remote servers/desktops.
– Office. No half-ass support for Office docs here. The full blown Word/Excel/Powerpoint apps are here and I can tell you they do work PERFECTLY. Sure I had to get some updates for these but now everything seems stable and fast. And again, FULL COMPATIBILITY with Office docs. That alone is for me the biggest advantage going right now for the Windows Surface. I tried pretty much any piece of software known to man that is available for iOS devices to deal with Office docs. NONE were able to render all documents I had  100%. The Surface did it out-of-the-box.

The main issue right now for sure is the lack of apps if compared to the iOS ecosystem. If Microsoft can indeed convince developers to step up their game and start pumping out tons and tons of apps for the platform, I would definitely say the Surface can potentially rise as a very good competitor. And so far, as an RDP 8 endpoint, nothing can come close to it what is indeed impressive.

CR

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