Citrix XenDesktop + XenApp bundling: Bye-bye application tax. Hello offline tax.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Citrix pricing was out-of-whack because Citrix XenApp was $350-$600 per CCU, while Citrix XenDesktop was $75-$275 per CCU.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Citrix pricing was out-of-whack because Citrix XenApp was $350-$600 per CCU, while Citrix XenDesktop was $75-$275 per CCU. I called this an "application tax" because publishing a single application cost much more than publishing a full desktop (since the single app required the expensive XenApp while publishing the desktop required the less expense XenDesktop). At their Synergy conference last week, Citrix officially released XenDesktop, and in doing so they announced some surprise bundling and pricing. XenDesktop will be available in five (ugh!) versions, all priced per concurrent user:

XenDesktop Express (free)

  • Basic functionality for VM-based desktops
  • Includes the free version of XenServer
  • Max 10 users

XenDesktop Standard ($75)

  • No user limit
  • Adds secure remote access for outside the firewall connections

XenDesktop Advanced ($195)

  • Adds Citrix Provisioning Server (Ardence)
  • Adds XenMotion and resource pooling on the back end

XenDesktop Enterprise ($295)

  • Adds Citrix Presentation Server / XenApp.

XenDesktop Platinum ($395)

  • Adds EdgeSight
  • Adds desktop support / shadowing via GoToAssist
  • Adds WAN optimization via WANScaler (you still have to buy the appliance though)
  • Adds EasyCall

The big news here is that XenDesktop Enterprise (and XenDesktop Platinum) include XenApp for free. The catch is that this free version of XenApp can only be used to deliver (via ICA or streaming) applications into XenDesktop desktops.

The other big announcement from Citrix was that existing customers of XenApp Platinum (i.e. those who have already paid $600 per user) can now buy a XenDesktop Advanced add-on for only $95 per user, instead of the full price of $295.

Therefore, if you want to get both XenDesktop and XenApp:

If you own Cost Total CCU price
XenDesktop Platinum XenApp for XenDesktop is free $395*
XenApp Enterprise $95 for XenDesktop add-on $545 ($450+$95)
XenApp Platinum $95 for XenDesktop add-on $695 ($600+$95)

*The free XenApp included here can only be used to deliver apps to the XenDesktop desktops

It's important to note that XenDesktop and XenApp are still two wholly and completely separate products. There's an "integrated" end user experience in that you can build a single Citrix Web Interface portal that can aggregate applications and desktops from both XenApp and XenDesktop environments, but on the back end, XenApp and XenDesktop are still separate installs, separate management consoles, separate farms, and separate databases. In other words, these special deals are license bundles only, not actual product integrations.

As a side note, I still thing XenDesktop is a great product overall, but with several pros and cons. I'll take a look at the pros and cons later this week. This article is purely focusing on the licensing / bundling / pricing of XenDesktop when combined with XenApp.

Citrix application tax complexities

Do these bundling options fix Citrix's application tax?

My first reaction was "Yes! This is cool!" (And to be fair, anytime any vendor offers something for free or a heavy discount, it's cool.) But after thinking through this, it still seems kind of weird.

To understand why, let's take a step back. Citrix has offered Terminal Server-based application delivery solutions for ten years. So now in 2008, why isn't every single application in the world delivered via Terminal Services? Two reasons. The first is that some apps or use cases are not compatible with Terminal Server. (app won't install, users need to be able to install their own apps, etc.) The second reason the whole world doesn't use Terminal Services is that some apps or use cases are just not compatible with server-based computing. (apps are needed offline, apps are graphically-intense, apps need realtime audio, etc.) VDI products like Citrix XenDesktop solve the first problem since the apps don't run on TS, but they don't solve the second problem since they're still SBC solutions.

So what's this have to do with Citrix's application tax complexity?

If you can get all of your applications and use cases to be compatible with SBC, great, because you can buy XenDesktop for $295/$395 and get XenApp for free. (Remember the version of XenApp that's bundled with XenDesktop can only be used to deliver apps to XenDesktop sessions.) But if you can't use an SBC desktop then you need to buy the old school version of XenApp for $350-$600.

In other words, you're penalized $55-$205 per user for using XenApp with a non-XenDesktop-managed desktop.

Now that XenDesktop includes XenApp for free, who will buy XenApp?

Depends on who you ask. We've already seen that Citrix has begun shifting resources away from XenApp to focus on XenDesktop. But I'm solidly with Shawn Bass who argues there are major limitations to VDI solutions today, and they cannot be used for the wholesale replacement of traditional desktops. So XenApp in its expensive standalone form should be around awhile, right? Too bad the CXOs of the world are going to read that XenDesktop is the "cheap" way to XenApp and want to deploy it for all their users immediately.

One final somewhat random thought about this pricing weirdness. One of the cool future use cases of XenDesktop that Citrix mentioned a few times at Synergy last week was the potential for reverse seamless. While I agree that this is a super add-on capability to XenDesktop that can MAJORLY increase its viability, using reverse seamless means that you'd have to add the pay for the full XenApp price ($350-$600), plus the XenDesktop add-on ($95). You can't do reverse seamless with XenDesktop at the $295/$395 level since the XenApp that comes with that can only put apps in the XenDesktop desktop. So you could argue actual cost of reverse seamless would be $150 to $300 per CCU!

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I'm so afraid that this pricing circus is going to be too complex for most of our sales force. There's just so much technical background needed to explain this to our customers. I wonder what they'll end up selling...
Hi Brian. Is it confirmed that Citrix will offer the discounted XenDesktop pricing to users of the enterprise edition of Xen App? I'd heard that it was only confirmed it would be offered to Platinum users.
This is what I have written in my notes, but I'll double check with Citrix today and re-confirm here.
If I currently have XenApp Platinum licenses and I addon XenDesktop, can the Provisioning Server component be used for both desktops and servers?  It would be great to buy a few XenDesktop licenses for my power users and get Ardence for the regular farm at the same time.  Too good to be true?
Yes, you can use Provisioning Server for both Server workloads and Desktops. The licenses are priced differently, but you can stream both types from the same PVS Server.
Ok, you're right. XenApp Platinum customers can get XenDesktop Advanced for $95. This is a special price that's valid through the end of the year. I'm updating the article now...
Hey I think you missed a major point on pricing.  I saw a CRN/Everything Channel piece that said pricing for Xen Desktop was a "per year price"  that means that, i.e. a 3 year license at the Platinum level would be $1,185 verse $834 (with two years of Subscription Advantage at 10%).  Which I think make more sense and would equate to Xen Desktop being about twice the price (include server costs)

This is exactly what I am saying.  The only other points that were not discussed was:  What constitutes a XenDesktop?  Does it have to be virtual?  what about blades?  what about hard desktops at the end point?  (XenDesktop used for remote access at this point).    Also which version of XenApp is included?  It was rumored Platinum but I highly doubt it.  Enterprise would make more sense.



Great questions as always Joe!

First, the "XenDesktop" in this case must be a VM or a blade. (i.e. a desktop that is remoted via ICA to the ultimate end-user device.) The bundled XenApp cannot be used to deliver apps to a desktop instance running locally on a client.

As for versions, I can confirm that the $95 special price is for XenDesktop Advanced, and it is available to all XenApp Platinum customers.

everyone should be shot....
That CRN article is wrong. I can 100% confirm that XenDesktop pricing is normal perpetual pricing, and like XenApp, the purchase price of XenDesktop includes one year of SA.
From a licensing standpoint, what you say is too good to be true. The XenDesktop Advanced that you get for $95 includes Provisioning Server ONLY for streaming disk images to your virtualized remote XenDesktops. If you want to stream disks to servers, you need to buy a Provisioning Server for Datacenters CAL for each server.
50.00 more per CCU gets a free copy of Windows ME
Hi Brian,I'm not going to comment on the pricing model in your blog because as you know this is not my area, but I would just say if Reverse Seamless is productized then I am sure we would be considering the licensing options. However, the reason for my post is that I just wanted to help clarify the technical implementation of Reverse Seamless as this is one of the research projects from my team. So far all the demonstrations we have carried out have used XenApp as the base system but this is only because we utilize the power of the Seamless ICA channel. This channel was not ported into the XenDesktop 2.0 release but the expectation is that if this is made available Reverse Seamless would work equally well on both XenApp and XenDesktop Desktops.

I hope this helps...



You know Steve, I think you make a great point. Actually, you underscore the main point that I was trying to make but that I didn't; namely, that Citrix pricing will continue to be a work-in-progress.

I was saying that you would have a "Reverse Seamless" tax because you would need XenApp to manage the local apps (streamed?) on the desktop, but really Steve's point is more important... that Reverse Seamless is just a preview technology in the lab today. If and/or when it's released, I'm sure Citrix will figure out how to price it.


Your table of " if you want to get both XenDesktop and XenApp" still reflects that the EE is eligable for an XD upgrade of $95. 

If that's so, then Citrix has just shot XenApp in the head, at least from a client perspective.  Being their cash cow why price XenDesktop that much cheaper.  Makes no sense to me.

After the initial $95 up-sell they get this year from Platnium licensing, it could get dicey

Where on that page does it address the issue of annually verse perpetual pricing of subscription advantage?  All I saw was the MSRP

Does, or will XenDesktop have an ICA Java applet client?