Head-to-head analysis of Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI, Quest vWorkspace, and VMware View

If you're looking for an independent overview of the Server Hosted Desktop Virtualization (VDI) solutions and you're curious about the different features and functions of each vendor's, then this paper is for you! In the current market there's an increasing demand for unbiased information about Desktop Virtualization solutions.

If you're looking for an independent overview of the Server Hosted Desktop Virtualization (VDI) solutions and you're curious about the different features and functions of each vendor's, then this paper is for you!

In the current market there's an increasing demand for unbiased information about Desktop Virtualization solutions. This white paper is focused on solutions that are anticipated to have an important role in VDI deployments. An overview of available features of Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI, Quest vWorkspace and VMware View is created to better understand each solution's capability. The overall goal of the white paper is share information about:

  • Application- and Desktop Delivery Solutions overview;
  • Explain the different Desktop Virtualization concepts;
  • Explain the pros and cons of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure;
  • Describe the different Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) vendors and solutions;
  • Compare the features of Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI, Quest vWorkspace and VMware View;

Making applications available to the end-user, regardless of the technology being used, is the ultimate strategic objective of an Advanced ICT infrastructure. The Virtual Desktop (vDesktop) is an essential component in the range of Application and Desktop delivery solutions and in essence, provides the following functions:

  • Flexibility: Detach the vDesktop from the endpoint; Several vDesktops next to one another
  • Access: vDesktop works independently of location, endpoint and network; Uniform workstation
  • Security: Server Hosted – VDI; data in the computing center
  • Freedom: Every user has their own desktop with administrator access when needed;
  • Management: Hardware-independent ‘image’
  • Legacy: It is simple to offer legacy applications on a state-of-the-art platform
  • Sustainability: Power Management, handling the necessary resources in an efficient manner.

VDI Strategy

The growing reality of the transition to a dynamic datacenter is causing many IT organizations to reevaluate traditional IT operations, support, and management methods. Virtualizing the Desktop is a reasonable piece to support growing numbers of unmanaged desktops, external users, and other use-case scenarios. It’s important to have a Vision and Strategy around Application and Desktop Delivery. Designing, building, managing and maintaining the vDesktop infrastructure using the right Technologies, corresponding vendors and products is an important last step.

We see a lot organizations primarily focusing on products and vendors and lacking a clear and profound vision and strategy. This approach isn’t good or bad, it depends on what the goal of the organization is. When the organization needs a point solution, the various vendors and corresponding products can help to solve this issue and fill-in the demands. When the organization is investigating possibilities, advantages, use cases and functionality of the vNext “Optimized desktop”, a profound vision and strategy should be in place.

The following themes should be part of the vDesktop (VDI) strategy:

  • What are the use-cases? And does the use-case require Virtualization?
  • VD-why, what do I want to achieve?, lowering TCO?, business enabler, overall cost of ownership and cost reducer?
  • What is the Business-case?
  • What’s the user experience using Multimedia, NextGen, Video/Voice, 2D/3D applications?
  • What endpoints do we support and facilitate and what is the role of these devices in the end-user experience?
  • Do we need to manage the endpoints?
  • How is the vDesktop managed? OS deployment, application distribution, patch management etc. etc. Is client management mandatory?
  • What is the impact on storage and how does it effect the business-case?
  • Do we focus on stateless (pooled, shared) and/or statefull (assigned, private) images? What is, for example, the impact on storage, manageability, security, legal and business-case?
  • Windows 7 or Windows XP as core vDesktop OS platform? 
  • How does the solution scale? What do we need from a scalability point of view?
  • How do we size the vDesktop and corresponding infrastructure and what are the best-practices for optimizing the vDesktop
  • What is the performance and bandwidth impact on the network infrastructure; LAN, WAN, wLAN
  • How do we design and build the user’s profile and his ‘workspace’?
  • Licensing; Operating System, Client Access Licenses and (Business) Applications
  • Do we need to backup (and restore) the vDesktops?
  • Is Anti-Virus needed? Inside the VM or as service module on the Hypervisor?
  • Is the IT organization mature enough to support and maintain the complete technology stack? What is the knowledge and skill-set of the IT-department?
  • Bottom Line: What’s your current Desktop strategy?! 

Head-to-head analysis of Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI, Quest vWorkspace and VMware View

The complete and in-depth 'VDI Smackdown' whitepaper can be downloaded in English here. A Japanese version can be downloaded here. We did our best to be truthful and accurate in investigating and writing-down the different solutions. When you see improvements please let us know! rsp@pqr.nl or www.twitter.com/rspruijt

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Very nice document thx!

I wonder about the guest operating support: vmware view doesn't support windows 7 ? I'm pretty sure some of my collegeas running win7 under vmware view?


VMware View 4 does not support Windows 7. It's an experimental feature.


hmm, How is it with support USB devices in View? Does PCoIP support USB ports and devices connested to this ports?


Terrific article Ruben! Very well done and the last line in the whitepaper should be strongly emphasized. VDI is not for all desktops, people, or situations. Application Delivery is still essential.

By the way, thanks again for the Stroopwafels. Great seeing you again at Briforum.



Excellent work!

I question one row in the table though:

"First year support and maintenance included in license" - XenDesktop has a tick in this row, however I would argue that this is the case. Software support services from Citrix are separate SKUs and are not included in any of the XenDesktop license SKUs that I am aware of.


so none of them have linux as guest OS. Great

What about the Redhat VDI solution. if they have one.



This is a very comprehensive write up covering an incredible amount of ground - thanks to you and your colleagues for sharing this with us all.

Do you have any plans to build upon this by discussing the next pieces that we all need to consider - namely the user experience / user environment management aspects of the desktop delivery?  I see there is already a user profile tickbox in the matrix, which gives us all an idea of the basic capabilities that are or are not present in the vendor offerings, but having experience of these tools, we (at AppSense) see that there is a need for more in most live user implementations.

We would be only too happy to work with you on this aspect as appropriate.

Thanks again - great document.

Simon Rust (AppSense)



thanks for putting all the pieces together!

I found some details. I think XenServer is supported by Quest. Secure connections do not work for PCoIP but only RDP in VMWare View.

Thanks nad looking forward to next whitepaper,




I'll update the whitepaper to version 1.01 this week and change ~5 features in the whitepaper.

With regards,



Thanks again to Ruben for taking on this task and putting together such a great document, including Quest vWorkspace.

I've sent a few corrections and suggestions for future revisions - for example, that vWorkspace supports universal network printing, integrates with NetApp FlexClone, supports 5000+ virtual desktops per console, has a searchable management console, has its own bi-di audio with compression for XP/2003 servers, etc...  Also, prices include 1st year maintenance and 24x7 support and we have both per-device and per-concurrent-user licensing models.


Secure connections for me does not work for me either , what did i do wrong? man


Great paper! Now that XD5 and View 4.5 are out, it would be great to have an updated paper. View 4.6 is on the horizon too.


Awesome paper.   I would love to see Kaviza compared as well - will future updates include this?  Thanks Ruben!!


Great paper Ruben, appreciate this information very much.   Will you be include Kavazia?  I'm trying to figure out where these guys fit into the SMB vs. Enterprise space.  Thanks


Ruben, thoughts on NComputing's latest pursuit of the enterprise VDI market in their vSpace Management Console for their VDI offering? See this article which outlines it: www.crn.com/.../ncomputing-adds-web-management-seeks-larger-virtual-deployments.htm