Citrix plans to end support for XenApp 6.0 in 2013. What's that? You're still migrating to 6.0?

Andrew Wood wrote a nice blog article about the end of life of a number of key XenApp-related products.

A few months ago Andrew Wood wrote a nice blog article about the end of life of a number of key XenApp-related products, and it reminded me of some conversions I've been having with a number of my customers about this topic.

Like all big vendors, Citrix maintains a product support lifecycle policy for XenApp (as well as all of their other products). The current lifecycle timelines are available at CTX122442. I'm not going to spend any time in this post discussing the differences between End of Sales (EOS), End of Maintenance (EOM) and End of Life (EOL) as Citrix's Jeff Muir wrote an excellent article describing all of this in great detail.

Instead, the main point of this article is that Citrix would like all of their customers and partners to cease using XenApp 6.5 Beta (err, I mean XenApp 6.0) by July 2013. In addition, they'd also like you to stop using XenApp 4.5 and 5.0 as well. What does this mean to us?

It means that you have exactly 17 months from right now to architect and migrate your existing Citrix infrastructure from XenApp 4.5, 5.0 and 6.0 over to XenApp 6.5.

I see several major problems with this and I'd like to break the discussion down into three separate parts. They are:

End of life of XenApp 4.5 on Server 2003

End of life

Server 2003 SP2 is officially end of life by Microsoft on July 14th, 2015. Citrix ends support for XenApp 4.5 on March 31, 2013. This means there's a 27 month window between when Citrix drops support for XenApp 4.5 and when Microsoft stops supporting the core platform. There are some legacy apps out there that won't run on Server 2008 in 32-bit mode let alone on Server 2008 R2 which is 64-bit only. For the customers stuck with these legacy apps your solution is either to migrate to a pure RDS environment or migrate away from Citrix and over to Quest or another competitor if you can't get your legacy apps off XenApp 4.5 by then. Of course you can buy extended support from Citrix for 4.5, but I'd rather migrate off from XenApp and buy a few Ferraris with the spare change left over ;)

Server 2003 is rock solid!

I've been happily running XenApp 4.5 on Server 2003 in many customer environments and the reality is that is that it is just a rock solid platform. Barely any Citrix related stability issues, barely any OS-related stability issues (ok ignore print drivers for a moment). XenApp 4.5 just runs and runs. Compare that with XenApp 5.0 on Server 2008 and XenApp 6.0 on Server 2008 R2 which were substantially poorer code quality from my perspective and XenApp 4.5 on 2003 looks like the platform of choice as long as one can milk it for.


Perhaps a small problem for small and medium customers, but quite a bit problem for Enterprise customers with old crappy apps. IE6 is a big problem because it only runs on Server 2003 and isn't available to install on Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2. So if you have some legacy apps using IE6 your only option is to stay on Server 2003 with those apps. For that situation, I'd strongly recommend talking to Quest about their extremely low cost RDS solution specifically designed to support IE6 dependent apps.


As long as you're running HRP5 for XenApp 4.5 (ok "XenApp 5.0" is what Citrix calls it, but it's 4.5 seriously), you can leverage Citrix's XenApp 6.0 migration tool CTX125471 if you're planning on moving to XenApp 6.0. The migration tool will help you move over published applications, policies, etc into XenApp 6.0. It's command-line based rather than GUI-based, but it does the job. Alternatively, if you want to move right to XenApp 6.5, the built-in Migration Center utility is a GUI based system that allows you to migrate from XenApp 4.5 HRP5+/2003, XenApp 5.0/2008 or XenApp 6.0/2008R2 to XenApp 6.5.

These utilities are designed to be used in parallel farm migrations. You cannot mix farms between 4.5/5.0, 6.0 and 6.5 so you must build the systems in parallel and then use Web Interface to aggregate the two farms together. There is one other option for migrating XenApp 6.0 to 6.5 in place, but I'll discuss that in the XenApp 6.0 section below. By far the most difficult part about a migration from 4.5 to 6.0/6.5 isn't the actual Citrix pieces because you probably could reconstruct all of your published apps and policies in a weekend if you really needed to. The biggest challenge in this migration is whether or not your apps are compatible. Moving from XenApp 4.5 where a majority of farms were deployed on 2003 32-bit to 2008 R2 which is 64-bit presents a number of challenges such as OS compatibility, 32-bit vs 64-bit challenges and new security technologies within Windows Firewall, UAC, DEP/ASLR, UI0Console Detection, Windows Resource Protection, IE8/IE9 compatibility and security restrictions, CredSSP, architectural changes to service privileges, etc. Most likely you'll spend a bulk of your project time just testing and remediating your applications. BTW, it might be a good time to look into the recently acquired Citrix's AppDNA solution or Quest's Changebase as tools that can help you with some of this analysis and remediation work. Neither tool is perfect, but if you have a ridiculous number of apps and no time to conduct full blown testing, then the tools will be of great value to you during your migration.

End of life of XenApp 5.0 on Server 2008

End of life

Server 2008 is officially end of life by Microsoft on July 10, 2018. Citrix ends support for XenApp 5.0 (2008) on July 15, 2013 (yeah 3 months after 4.5!). This means there's a 60 month (or FIVE YEAR!) gap between when Citrix drops support for their platform versus when Microsoft ends support for the core platform.

Not a big surprise

Not too many customers adopted XenApp 5.0 on Server 2008 and ultimately that was probably a good thing. It wasn't the most stable platform and 2008 R2 was so quickly behind Server 2008 with a completely different architecture that it was only a matter of time before this platform would be doomed to be replaced by 2008 R2. I feel like this would have happened very rapidly if 2008 R2 wasn't 64-bit only which I think severely limited it's uptake in the early days. Ultimately XenApp 5.0 on 2008 is sort of the ugly duckling at Citrix that never turned into a swan. Why was 5.0/2008 such a bad platform? Aside from what I've already mentioned regarding 2008 R2 being right behind it, it still suffered from some architectural changes that introduced app compatibility issues along with the fact that Citrix was late delivering XenApp 5.0 by about 3 months past their intended release date and about 6 months after the release of Server 2008. Also, several new enhancements/features that were delivered in XenApp 4.5 lagged behind on their 2008 counterpart until later Feature Releases. I believe all of those things contributed to slow adoption of XenApp 5.0 on 2008, but the heads up that 2008 R2 was right around the corner was really the nail in the coffin.


Well hopefully you don't have anything on XenApp 5.0 on 2008, but if you do the same general migration strategies apply as listed above for XenApp 4.5. From an application compatibility perspective there are still some challenges moving from 2008 to 2008 R2, mainly from an improved security perspective, etc. but if you're already running on 2008 you've dealt with a lot of the OS security improvements, UAC, etc. so moving your apps to 2008 R2 will really be mostly about 32-bit vs 64-bit and a handful of other challenges. The app migration issues from 2008 (especially if you're on 64-bit 2008) to 2008 R2 are substantially less than moving from 2003 (especially 32-bit) to 2008 R2.

End of life of XenApp 6.0 on Server 2008 R2

End of life - Server 2008 R2 is officially end of life by Microsoft on July 10, 2018. Citrix ends support for XenApp 6.0 (2008 R2) on July 15th, 2013 (again 3 months after XenApp 4.5). This means there's a 60 month (or FIVE YEAR!) gap between when Citrix drops support for their platform versus when Microsoft ends support for the core platform. Citrix has XenApp 6.5 available which has a longer lifecycle on Server 2008 R2, but even that product is end of life on July 24, 2015. So even the latest XenApp 6.5 still ends support three years prior to Microsoft ending support for Server 2008 R2. The biggest issue I have with the retirement dates of XenApp 5.0 and XenApp 6.0 having the same expiration is two fold:

  • XenApp 6.0 is a much more challenging platform to migrate to vs XenApp 5.0/2008. Due to this factor, many customers have been experiencing a very long migration cycle to get their applications onto Server 2008 R2 / XenApp 6.0. I know of several customers who are partially through their migration to XenApp 6.0 right now and based on these timeframes they'll be doing it all over again soon (albeit a quicker migration in most cases).
  • XenApp 5.0 was launched on September 10, 2008. This means that it will have been on the market for almost seven years when retired. XenApp 6.0 was released on March 24, 2010. Therefore, XenApp 6.0 will have a total lifetime of just over three years when it's sunset. How can this be that a substantially more difficult platform to migrate to has less than half the lifetime of a product that is much easier to migrate to? The reason is that Citrix has introduced XenApp 6.5 and has decided that they would much rather support that platform ongoing. XenApp 6.5 was released in August, 2011 which gives it a total of just under 4 years of life. Better than XenApp 6.0, but probably at least a year short of what most Enterprises would be looking for.


I joked earlier that XenApp 6.0 is sort of like XenApp 6.5 Beta. Anyone that reads this who was an early adopter for XenApp 6.0 probably knows exactly what I'm talking about. Between Server 2008 R2 and XenApp 6.0 there were loads of issues. Heck we're up to well over 100 hotfixes and HRP1 was just recently released for this platform. For a while there I was wondering if HRP1 would ever come out, or if Citrix would just keep pumping out hotfixes.


If your applications are already running on XenApp 6.0 that means they are already on Server 2008 R2 64-bit. Therefore, you should have almost no app compatibility challenges moving to XenApp 6.5 on Server 2008 R2. However, XenApp 6.0 and 6.5 cannot be part of a mixed farm. Therefore, you must take one of three migration strategies:

  • Build two farms and aggregate through web interface and manually move your applications over through publishing changes.
  • Leverage the XenApp 6.5 Migration Center to move your farm objects (published applications, etc) between the farms. You will still need to install all your applications on XenApp 6.5, etc but this can save a lot of time instead of manually re-creating farm configurations. This also still requires Web Interface farm aggregation.
  • Leverage the XenApp 6.0 to 6.5 In Place Upgrade Utility. It may not be quite fair to call this an in place upgrade utility as Citrix doesn't directly support an in place upgrade from 6.0 to 6.5. Rather what this utility does is automate what would otherwise be a manual process of uninstalling XenApp 6.0 off of a server and re-installing XenApp 6.5 on that server. If you have an existing XenApp 6.0 footprint and you're not sure how your applications were installed on your XenApp 6.0 servers, this can be an effective way of getting you to XenApp 6.5 without having to deal with figuring out how to re-install your apps. This utility does not help you get your farm resources over to 6.5, you would still need to use Migration Center to do that or manually re-publish apps, etc but this will help you get from 6.0 to 6.5 on exiting server builds. All of the same rules apply with respect to farm aggregation through Web Interface.

This topic is something that I have been discussing with a number of my customers over the last 6-12 months and I hope it's something that many of you have been thinking about as well. I know that there has been a quite heated discussion about this topic within in private CTP mailing list over the last year. In those conversations there are some CTPs with a "Good riddens!" opinion. There are others like myself and Pierre Marmignon @pmarmignon who spend a large portion of our time with large enterprise accounts who take a very long time to complete migration projects like this. It's particularly frustrating to be half way through a large migration project like this only to tell the CxOs that now that this project is almost to a close we're going to have to start up the next Citrix-related migration project. Let me be the first person to say that I truly do understand how difficult it is for Citrix to maintain developers on multiple platforms, and none of us want Citrix to be at a standstill from an innovation perspective simply to hang on to the legacy stuff. However, it's also of vital importance that with an Enterprise product comes a responsibility to provide an Enterprise level support lifecycle. What would I like to see Citrix do? Simply support any kind of Enterprise related product with a minimum of 4-5 years of product support. No need to match Microsoft's 7-10 year support lifecycle, but ending things at just over 3 years is a difficult pill for large customers to swallow. Should XenApp 6.0 be sunset this soon? I say no.

So am I blowing things out of proportion here or is this a real problem for customers out there?

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Hi Shawn,

Another great article, this is a conversation I've been having frequently recently. I'm glad you wrote this article so early and I'd expect to see alot more conversation on the topic in the next 17 months. The sooner the client base acknowledge the need to move and start looking for issues blocking migrations the sooner they can move away.

One main road block to a 6 > 6.5 migration for any (shudder) Lotus Notes customers is that they strictly don't support anything higher than XenApp 6 and if you've used notes on XenApp 6 you'll know you're going to want that support!

In reference to 4.5, I get the feeling we'll be seeing these "application compatibility" farms well into 2013 and beyond as customers upgrade / move away from 2003 / x86 dependent software. Dropping support is all well and fine, but most customers just can't move without great investment, replacing software or renewing software assurance... and in these times most companies don't have all that to spend!

In reference to the "half way house" most customers will face as they maintain two separate farms. EUEM solutions have made the transition for the migrations I've seen alot easier giving the ability to publish apps/resources from any farm seamlessly to the desktop. So if a customer gets stuck, these solutions can give a much better user experience as the migration takes place.

Thanks again Shawn and look forward to more in 2012.



I actually think it's worse than you're making out.

For many organizations, the guys that are doing the Windows XP - Windows 7 migration are the guys that will be doing the XenApp migration, are the guys that will be being pushed to do desktop virtualization, are the guys that will be chasing down the IE 6 retirement problems, and dare I say it are the guys that will be doing desktop virtualization in one form or another.




Great summary of a huge issue on the near horizon.

Although it's now a moot point. XA5/2008 didn't end up being as unstable/buggy for me personally deploying it a year ago.  It's UPD and printing system leagues beyond PS 4.0 and from what I saw of 4.5/Win 2K3 also. While W2k3 is rock solid. Printing is a nightmare without replacing it with a 3rd party product.

One issue you don't mention that might be a big migration question is user profiles.  Going from 4.5/W2K3/x32 to 6.5/W2K8R2/x64 means new profiles x32/x64 profiles shouldn't be mixed.

Also curiously despite all the hype about VDI I don't see anyone proposing a wholesale dump of XenApp and go XenDesktop, View, vWorkspace as a migration strategy.


Also don't forget that there's another, better option for IE6 migration than terminal services. As Shawn well knows (and talks about often in his presentations), Browsium provides the only native solution to running IE6- and IE7-dependent apps on IE8 and IE9.

Things are about to get even more interesting with something brand new we've been cooking up. Keep an eye on this site (and for the news in the coming weeks. Contact us directly for a sneak peak.


I think something is touched on here that is much bigger in scope. I agree that forcing organizations to go to XA6.5 in 17 months is probably unrealistic at the least but in regards to the EOL's that are 2015 and later, I would have to ask "what do you think the landscape will look like 5 years from now?"

Here we have this huge push toward a 64 bit architecture from Microsoft and Citrix. We know that this can be massively damaging for organizations that run 32 bit apps. I have worked with companies that have said straight out, it will cost us millions upon millions to migrate this application.

So what's the answer? Ditch Xenapp for Xendesktop completely. And why not? After you get over the Microsoft ELA and take care of the VDI licensing I would think your set. So what were some of the reasons to keep Xenapp? Biggest ones that come to mind are

1- I can get more users on a Xenapp server. Thus it's more cost effective.

This point is a loosing battle. The speed of processors, ram, SSD is making this completely irrelevant. It may continue to be true that Xenapp 6.5 based on 64 bit can scale to hundreds or thousands of users on a single box but really, who the hell wants that anyway?!? I've run into many companies that only want 50 to 150 users per Xenapp server because they don't want a failure to effect a huge amount of users.

Also, xenapp is still a shared architecture. One user can negatively effect every user on that Xenapp server.

2- ease of management. Install an application to a Xenapp server and you've upgraded all those users. Awesome. I can do the same with MCS or PVS on XD.

VDI will avoid most of your app compatibility issues that you would see with Xenapp. in an age where resources are becoming elastic, virtually unlimited and on demand do you really see a place for what has always been a challenging architecture? I personally think in 5 years we will see much more VDI only.


@Shawn Will XenApp 6.5 be IMA based? (can't be bothered to check right now) If not then this is just part of Citrix trying to consolidate VDI and XA on a single infrastructure that is beyond IMA and solves for situations like mixed farm etc.

Even if XenApp 6.5 is IMA based, this is all part of shifting resources to consolidate architecture faster IMO so fewer $h1t releases like XA 5 happen in future.

So if my theory is correct, then I think there is some pain worth enduring for the greater good. However once again this has a lot to do with clueless leadership who don't understand implementation reality. The previous PM who achieved nothing, has moved on to work for Mark T to create the next mess, and they have put some chick in charge who is nice but clueless about enterprise XA implementation and all the interdependencies that follow as outlined in your article. The XA and XD teams have been consolidated once again under the new HP guy and this is his fault ultimately reporting into a even weaker and clueless empty suit who just yells YES MARK, the future is all about consumerization, enterprise... who gives a F, it's all like Google with instant updates, that's the future, YES MARK that is what you mean by the 3P world I hope to ensure my huge pay check this year.

Simple answer to Citrix if you are stuck, FU we're not paying maintenance, Quest come see us, MS please can you take away some Citrix with RDS. Oh VMware, POSoIP may be good enough for some use cases, so I will try to at least have 5% of internal call center type uses use it to get around all the UDP connections externally issues. While we are at it, F Netscaler and AccessGateway, call Juniper, F5 and so and diversify the vertical stack that Citrix is trying to lock you into. When they talk about ShareFile, tell them to F off as well.


@adam. When and if that promise of VDI holds true in a few years, then force the issue, not now. There is plenty to do that adds value beyond paying a price for the fact that Citrix can't do mixed farm upgrades with IMA.



Although I absolutely appreciate your point, and I've discussed this with Andy Wood and the UK over the past few months.  How big a problem is it?  I don't actually know of any major projects that have done more than play round the edges of a XenApp 6 migration, maybe Citrix have put their 6.5 marker in the sand at just the right point before many people have actually started their upgrade.



XenApp 6.5 is IMA based.  It was pretty much purely an HDX release to bring XenApp into the same functionality that is present in XenDesktop 5.x.  The non-IMA architecture will probably be in a later release of XenApp (maybe 7.0, who knows).  Look I'm not going to debate that it's important for Citrix to move things forward.  There are some important architectural changes in XenApp 6.5 such as worker/controller separation that lead the way for a non-IMA based architecture, but my issue isn't with the release of 6.5  My issue is that 6.0 is being sunset after just over 3 years shelf life.  That's too soon and there are the number of large companies who are already in the midst of their 6.0 upgrade that now have to reset their projects.




XenApp is here to stay (at least in the Enterprise where I spend most of my time).  The reason is simple.  If you have an environment with 2-4 data centers spread across the globe and you need to serve applications up to users in 100+ sites all over the world.  Do you build 3-4 VDI desktops for every user that needs apps in each Data Center or do you stand up a shared XenApp infrastructure and serve the apps in that fashion?  Cross data center needs will dictate that architecture for a long time (well at least until HTML5 based app publishing takes over).



@Jim Moyle -

I happen to know of several large customers who are already part way through their XenApp 6.0 migration.  So this is a real problem.  Does it affect all customers?  Not sure.  It affects a lot of mine though.



@Simon - I wholeheartedly agree with your point.  Many customers that I work with have a team that is sharing all of those items that you discussed.  And yes, they are really strapped for resources with way too many projects to take on.   This 6.0/6.5 debacle is not helping the situation at all.



Hey Shawn,

Thanks for the mention :)

I understand all comments but some of them are far away for the main discussion !

The main point is, according to me, that as a strategic infrastructure solution 3 years of support (even less than three "real" years for XenApp 6) is not enough.

Such a short support cycle could even be a fear for large enterprise environments that are considering betting their access strategy on Citrix.


@Shawn I also forget to mention I agree with your XA 5.0 / 6.X quality comparison perspective !



You nailed the quality comparison between XA versions.


I do not understand the frustration or concern people are having with the announcement of XenApp6 being laid to rest. I for one am thanking Citrix for finally announcing it again and hopefully they stand behind it this time. As a Citrix Architect/Engineer I am in the middle of a 4.5 to 6.0 migration and do not plan on stopping the work. I still have all of the concerns and issues of moving the users from 2003 to 2008 R2 regardless if I use 6.0 or 6.5. We are talking about an additional couple hours of work to spin up new a new Citrix farm and then continue on down the migration path. All of the applications we have migrated will be a breeze to move to 6.5 as they are still the same OS which was 99% of the trouble to begin with.  

Remember that 6.5 came out about 6 months after 6.0; this should have been the handwriting on the wall.

XenApp 6.0 was plagued from the start and thrown out to the masses so Citrix could argue they had a 2008 R2 product.  XenApp 6.0 is to Citrix what Windows ME was to Microsoft.

I will be glad to put this behind us and forget XenApp 6.0 every existed.



I have a tough time recommending my clients begin any type of upgrade or migration right now unless they are in serious pain.  Any migration I start now will be finished just in time to find out what v7 is all about. May as well wait.


@Chad - In small/medium environments I'm with you 100% and I have no issues at all recommending that people ready their 6.0 environment and then perform the uninstall/re-install script for moving to 6.5.  However, in large environments where there are hundreds of apps involved this is a major undertaking and changing the version of XenApp makes it a pretty big undertaking from a change management / risk perspective.  For those people, this is a big deal.




Yes of course XenApp 7.0 (if that's what it will be called) is always a risk.  But I don't know that you shouldn't recommend upgrades to customers just because the next version will be coming shortly.  You don't know for absolute certainty that a vendor will release a new product version (or at least you shouldn't know) and they could end up just releasing it as a Feature Pack.  If that happens then you need to move to 6.5 anyway so there's no sense in putting off your migration just because of what might be.  My big issue with Citrix over this is how short of a lifetime they applied to XenApp 6.0.  On Twitter a very good point was brought up with is start with 2013 there will be no XenApp product available for 32-bit Windows which means there will be no way to run a 16-bit app on a support infrastructure  Hopefully most people don't have many 16-bit apps left, but if you do.  Ugh!



Shawn, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your blog generating some very engaging discussions, and I certainly appreciate everyone's candid feedback.

And even though I don't have news to share on the lifecycle itself, I want to let everyone know we acknowledge the constructive feedback/criticism.

And if there are follow-on questions from others reading this, please feel free to reach out directly. cris dot lau at citrix dot com. Thanks!


Product Manager for XenApp


It appears that Citrix has changed the dates of XenApp 6.0. Check out . Now it says:

EOM: 30-Jun-14

EOL: 2-Jan-15

EOES: 10-Jul-18

CTX122442 ( is still listing the 2013 dates though:

EOM: 15-Jan-13

EOS: 15-Jul-13