In mid-March 2020, Dell announced the accelerated release of ThinOS 9.0, which features initial support for Citrix Workspace.
Our last coverage of ThinOS was version 8.5 from two years ago, while version 8.6 was the last release before ThinOS 9.0. We’ve been keeping an eye on the latest moves from IGEL and Stratodesk, so it’s time to see what Dell Wyse has been up to with ThinOS 9.0 offers.
What’s new in ThinOS 9.0?
Dell Wyse is hyping up version 9.0 as one of the most significant updates to ThinOS, and it’s not hard to see why. ThinOS 9.0 features new architecture, which will allow Dell Wyse to more quickly update ThinOS whenever a vendor releases an update to their broker or client. On the call with them, they described it as essentially having rewritten the entire operating system. For example, if Citrix releases new features for Workspace app, Dell Wyse estimates they can have ThinOS ready to support these features within the same quarter (or fairly closely thereafter). This is a change from before as it was really difficult to update ThinOS, especially after Citrix Receiver became Citrix Workspace.
The interesting wrinkle for this release is that ThinOS 9.0 currently only supports Citrix Workspace 1912. They described ThinOS 9.0 as a series of releases, with support for Citrix Workspace generally available first. ThinOS 9.0 will eventually support VMware, Microsoft, and Amazon brokers and clients, but there’s no timetable just yet.
While ThinOS 9.0 boasts an overhauled architecture, Dell Wyse told me there are additional new features as well. For Workspace, it supports browser redirection and enlightened data transport (Citrix Adaptive Transport). Alongside that, there’s a new admin GUI, designed to help admins start using ThinOS 9.0 much more quickly, such as dropdown menus and on/off switches (basically it now has a lot of features modern dashboards have). Previously, ThinOS 8.6 used a complex scripting language when it came to handling configurations, making it a little harder on admins not familiar with it.
ThinOS 9.0 is compatible with all four of Dell Wyse’s shipping thin clients, 3040, 5070, 5470 All-in-One, and 5470 Mobile. They said that ThinOS 9.0 is FIPS 140-2 compliant and that there will be additional security features in the future. They now offer SAML support for AD authentication, alongside the existing RSA, Duo, Healthcast, and Imprivata support. ThinOS 9.0 deprecated support for SECUREMATRIX and Caradigm (which got acquired by Imprivata). Dell Wyse said that only a small segment of their customers would be affected by this new and those that are could continue using ThinOS 8.6.
It wasn’t clear to me as I could see signals both in that direction and opposite, too. Making such a major release only have Citrix support initially is interesting and sort of has the air of Dell deciding to move at their own pace, with the focus on working with their partners and not worrying about their competitors.
At the same time, overhauling the OS right now almost seems like they see Stratodesk and IGEL as potential competitors to worry about. Before ThinOS 9.0, updating their OS took a while and now they can more quickly support new features from their partners. But, maybe they just saw now as the right time to go back and rewrite ThinOS.