Many customers have expressed the need for their end users’ (the non-IT Pro crowd) XenClient laptop experiences to be as familiar as those of laptops running Windows natively.  In one instance we spoke with an enterprise customer that wanted to provide its users with all the capabilities of a rich client laptop with all the administrative and manageability benefits of XenClient.  They also wanted to prevent users from accessing the Citrix Receiver for XenClient (XenClient User Interface).  Their main concern was that user access to the Citrix Receiver for XenClient environment would create support calls due to lack of familiarity or that lay users might inadvertently modify configuration settings (vCPU, memory, etc.) that would make their laptop experiences suboptimal.

There are now a set of features that allow you to essentially hide XenClient from regular users. So users can hit the power button and boot right into Windows, automatically connect to wireless networks, and even automatically sleep or power off XenClient when the user performs those actions within Windows.  I previously wrote a blog about the Autoboot VM feature that described steps to get a XenClient device to launch straight into the guest OS, for example, Windows 7.   The Autoboot VM feature allows users to power on their device and have it automatically start up one or more guest VM’s without any end user interaction and without login to Citrix Receiver for XenClient.  There are a couple of other features we’ve added that provide for a more seamless end user experience as well.

The Power Controls VM and Host feature allows the user to shut down the entire device when they shut down their VM.  To access this feature:

  • Go into the Citrix Receiver for XenClient
  • Select ‘Details’ for the VM whose properties you are trying to modify
  • Select ‘Power’  on the left side of the dialogue box
  • Select ‘Edit’ on the bottom right of the dialogue box
  • Select ‘Power Controls VM and Host’ (see figure below). 
  • Select ‘Save’ on the bottom right of the dialogue box

 

Power control affects VM and Host

 

Now when your user sleeps or powers down the VM from Windows start menu, the XenClient platform will sleep/shut down.  Again no user interaction with the Citrix Receiver for XenClient is required to shut down the device.

Another feature that helps provide a seamless user experience is Autoconnect.  This feature allows the device to automatically connect to the wireless network once the wireless profile has been configured (see figure below).  There are two flavors of wireless network to consider regarding this feature: those that broadcast SSID’s and those that don’t.  For those networks configured to not broadcast SSID’s:

  • Go into the Citrix Receiver for XenClient
  • Click on Network (at the top right hand of the page)
  • Select ‘Connect to Hidden Wireless Network’ and ­set the network’s profile in XenClient to “Attempt to scan for this network even when hidden”. 
We’ve found that a number of customers have configured their networks to not broadcast SSID’s.  It is important to note that while many companies have deployed non-broadcasting SSID’s, this approach is viewed as insecure – please refer to Microsoft’s guidance on using non-broadcasting wireless networks.

For those networks configured to broadcast SSID’s:

  • Go into the Citrix Receiver for XenClient
  • Click on Network (at the top right hand of the page)
  • Select ‘Create new wireless network’
  • Select ‘Connect automatically’ in the wireless profile

 

Wireless Autoconnect

 

In both scenarios described above, when the device is powered on, it will connect to the wireless network without any intervention from the end user. 

As enterprises start putting XenClient in production, they are looking for ways to provide a native user experience.  Autoboot VM, Power Controls VM and Host and Wireless Autoconnect are three features we’ve added to make the user experience more seamless and more like Windows.  Many customers have asked for these features to prevent confusion among their users and minimize the amount of training required with XenClient.  In the future, we’ll be looking to add other features that provide a native Windows experience.  Let us know if there are other features you’d like to see toward this end.