Microsoft to Quest in 2009: "A winning partnership." Microsoft to Quest in 2010: "Que-who?"

Back in April 2009 I wrote Move over Citrix! Microsoft and Quest form "a winning partnership" for desktop virtualization.

Back in April 2009 I wrote Move over Citrix! Microsoft and Quest form "a winning partnership" for desktop virtualization. This was when Microsoft started to embrace Quest as a desktop virtualization partner in addition to the love they heaped on Citrix. At the time Microsoft execs said (mostly off the record) that they needed to keep Citrix "honest," and really that having more than one go-to partner was better for them and better for the whole ecosystem.

After a year-and-a-half though, it seems like Microsoft is back to their old ways giving their love to Citrix leaving Quest to fend for themselves.


Citrix competes with Microsoft at the hypervisor level. Citrix competes with Microsoft in the app virtualization & streaming area. Citrix competes with Microsoft in the online meeting space. Yet Microsoft pushes them exclusively when they talk about desktop virtualization.

On the other hand, Quest has embraced Microsoft. They were the first to support Hyper-V. They were the first to show their product integrating with RemoteFX.

Yesterday I tweeted Man, Quest can't get no respect! In Chandra's post about RemoteFX, Quest was mentioned below Texas Instruments even!?!

And then later I got an email from Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft's PR agency) making sure I saw Microsoft's latest blog posts on desktop virtualization (here and here). Both posts are full of references to Citrix and how great XenDesktop is. But neither post even mentioned Quest... Not even a cursory "and Quest does it too."

So I don't know what this "winning partnership" is that Microsoft and Quest formed, but from the looks of it, Microsoft has moved on and clearly doesn't care about Quest. Both of these blog posts (and the TechEd keynote, actually) flat out ignored them.

#partnership #FAIL


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Obviously this Chandra guy has been at the reigns of this Microsoft division longer than any world dictator in modern history. Maybe it's time for a blood transfusion?

This Microsoft-Citrix 'toll booth' arrangement (TBA) has got to go! It has impeded the proliferation of desktop virtualization, and RDS before it, for much too long. Many a smaller player and 'loyal partner' in this space, like Ericom and others, have put all their eggs in this basket, and never once have they chosen to compete with their partner Microsoft by acquiring a hypervisor or app virtualization company (not that they have the financial wherewithal to do so).

This "what have you done for me lately" approach has almost put RDS on a path of extinction by reducing it to nothing but a niche, tactical technology. If it persists, desktop virtualization too could be doomed to the same fate. But maybe that's the whole goal of the TBA since Microsoft owns the toll booth and Citrix is the toll booth attendant. That's why Wall St. hates Microsoft and Steve Ballmer. Such arrangements undoubtedly stifle innovation, and Microsoft sorely lacks an innovative spirit.

I've posted before about Microsoft's bread and butter being the Windows desktop, and that's what it boils down to at the end of the day. Without TBA in place, RDS and desktop virtualization could pose a serious threat to Microsoft's top revenue generator. But the advent of Cloud Computing could change all that if the Windows desktop's ultimate destination is the Cloud. I'll believe it when I see it.


Well, my first thought in this is fairly simple. Last year MS wanted to show they were in the game WITHOUT VMware and WITHOUT VMW's major competition Citrix.   And, uh... they didnt see much for it.

Lets face it, Quest has a decent product and it does some cool stuff. BUT Quest is not DRIVING VDI sales... Citrix is. Citrix, their partners, the  Partner sales force, all are huge force multipliers for MS...

So to keep with Edgeseeker's theme on dictators, if you look at this from a political and military problem you need to determine which country or dictator or small rebel group you want to back.

Maybe they they backed Quest (the smaller upstart in this space) because they liked what they could do and it showed "independence". After a year or more with little to show for it you simply move your support to the side that offers a greater chance of "winning"...

Hell we sold mil gear to Iraq way back when...


@Ron - Quest is a 3,500-employee company, and their desktop virtualization division is manned by over 100 employees, half of whom are developers. Please check your facts. I don't know where "upstart" came from.


To add to @edgeseeker, they have a 14 year history:

However, I am actually on Ron's side in terms of which vendor is driving Desktop Virtualization. Unfortunately it's just Citrix with VMware donkey-poning VDI.

IMO I would use Quest over VMware, VC complements vWorkspace as well.

But it brings something to the table to go with a vendor that solely exists for Desktop Virtualization.

Citrix lives and breaths it every day, with all of their technologies complimenting it. Quest has a wider spread with a broader focus for their money stream.


Edgeseeker... quick on the key board and trigger are we?

Yes, quest is a larger company and not a START UP.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not a small upstart when it comes to VDI. While I don’t think their VDI section will go away anytime soon, like any small company that division/section/business group could be gone any second… Unlike say… their other virtualization toolset groups (foglight, ranger, etc etc)

So they are larger and I I know the company and have used their products for years (way back to when they bought Aelita) so your comment about research is incorrect and may show a lack of understanding here.

In terms of VDI specific software they are an upstart. They purchased the software and have been developing it for a bit now with less traction than they probably deserve, but still very little traction. In this context when you are talking giants like Citrx and VMW and MS you would call Quest A “Major player”? A central figure? The thought leader in VDI? Driving VDI adoption? Come on.

Again you push buttons just to push buttons and the sad thing is this will diminish many other valid points you may make.

I know you like to pick fights with me and others in comments,  this is easy to do when anonymous. But in this case trying to say that a 100 person section of a 3500 person company that is there through a purchase, that has about as many developers as a decently funded start up, in a new market, in which their % of acceptance is very small is NOT an upstart in the context of Citrix of VMW or MS... well ok…  run with that.


Hmmmm I think as @edgeseeker points out, many hate Microsoft. SInce the Quest strategy is all about further marriage and obedience to the MS gods. It get's limited interest from the market they are trying to sell to. The SMB may care since it seems attractive due to cost, some nice features. But even there I have to wonder how much value there is when you have to bolt on so many other features from other vendors, VC etc. That makes the cost go higher. Fundamentally I don't believe that RDP is the right bet because for the most part you will be married to the Windows ecosystem with MS trying to lock you in with MDOP junk and SCCM junk. I also don't trust the ability of Quest to scale and support complex desktop workloads. That does not mean I think they won't try or are not well intentioned. As Ron points out, that is not the core of their business. Same problem VMW has, but here at least I know I am creating leverage against MS which is a good thing, With Citrix I am getting focus on the problem, bad quality, but more support for scale and greater confidence (I hope) in their ability to fix all the problems. I also get a lot more choice in terms of iPad etc with the Receiver.

I am sure we will see more overlap between Citrix and MS as they grow as Brian also eludes to, but I don't think that is so unnatural. Together they still pull more $$$ and fight the VMware fight. If as part of that Citrix makes junk like App-V better even if they compete then good for everybody. BTW LiveMeeting should be shot in the head. It makes be laugh when people say MS is so big and rich who could possibly compete? Simply look at their products, LiveMeeting, Vista, App-V, SCCM, MDOP with Med-V. More junk produced with the mindset of good enough that is taking them nowhere. No wonder Ray Ozzie sent the WTF are all you idiot doing memo, he's right......

That Chandra guy from MS has no power. He is a footnote in the power structure which is ruled by the client team which he has nothing to do with. He does not help sell Windows 7 so there is not MS VDI strategy. The fact they even call it VDI still when it's far broader than that show how stupid they really are. If MS is not going to buy Citrix, and want to win at Desktop Virtualization then perhaps buy some smart brains from there who get there. It's obvious who those people are, but I'll let MS figure that out which they will most likely also get wrong....

All that said I do agree Quest is not going away and I am willing to bet they get stronger and stronger as VMW continue to fall apart. If I was Quest I would not worry about Citrix, and instead intensely show MS how they can beat VMWare with MS just as easily. As soon as that happens, MS will sing a different song and we'll have a newly minted MS .


@Ron - No one's trying to pick fights or push buttons. Obviously, you're a pretty irritable person. Maybe you should talk to someone. I just stated the facts for what they are.


@Icelus - You make some valid points, but this is like saying you wouldn't buy an Xbox from Microsoft because they live and breathe Windows.

Citrix doesn't just live and breathe desktop virtualization. In many ways, they are a late comer to the desktop virtualization game,


@edgeseeker, so that would make Quest an also ran :-)

I think Quest can only play in the SMB market which I think has plenty of room for them and this also fits the MS model well. MS should buy them if they want a VDI offering that is good enough for many that lock's you into Windows. It's the obvious thing they could do. Of course MS could also buy Kaviza for VDI only and get HDX assuming the Citrix deal still holds which I am sure they would make Citrix do somehow.

Here's a broader question to think about. Is there enough value in the SMB for other players to gain traction? If so, what can should the larger players do about it. Buy? Ask questions why their stacks are not appealing to the SMB etc? Curious to see what people think.


A little premature maybe?

Looking back to the launch of RemoteFX you could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft's sole partner around desktop virtualization was Citrix. (I missed this until I had a call from Quest directing me to the appropriate announcement) But as Brian indicates this was not the case and it was Quest who committed to delivering support for RemoteFX ahead of Citrix.

A very quick search shows that the phrase "partner technologies from Citrix and Quest "  was still being used by Microsoft as recently as June this year in the MS doc "Achieving Business Value through Microsoft VDI Together with Session Virtualization".  

It there any reason to suspect that something has changed and Microsoft's current focus on promoting it's relationship with Citrix means that Quest has lost favor.


There's an argument to be made that VWorkspace is closer to being an enterprise ready desktop virtualization solution than Microsoft's VDI Suite.  I don't think that Quest is there yet, but if both Quest and MS set out to meet Gartner's criteria for an enterprise-class server hosted virtual desktop.  I have little doubt that it would be Quest who would get there first.

and @appdetective Is there enough value in the SMB space for other players to gain traction.?  

I think there's more money to be made from selling products targeted specifically at the SMB space than there is in the enterprise  (depending on where you draw the line between the two of course).


@Appdetective -  Needless to say, your feedback is always insightful,  But it's also important to note that vWorkspace has had a six-year run so far, and we've been on it for two with excellent results. vWorkspace was already out and selling while Citrix was still scrambling to choose a name for its future VDI product, and VMware was still licking its own wounds for having to rewrite a piece of s--- product that shouldn't have been acquired in the first place.

I keep reading about how this or that product is or isn't enteprise-ready. Can someone please elaborate? Oh I get it ! Using the word "enterprise"  to describe a product or company makes someone sound smarter than they actually are.

Quest obviously isn't front of mind for most readerrs of this blog,, but as far as I know, 100 percent of their products and business is in the enterprise.  Here we go! I used that word myself. Does it make me sound any smarter?



XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenClient play equal roles in the Desktop Virtualization landscape.

Like I said before, if I have to look at an alternative, vWorkspace is #2 on my list.


I've actually always like vWorkspace and agree with @edgeseeker they had a marketable product when Citrix just had some crappy Desktop Broker thingy and VMware was still trying to figure out how SBC environments worked...

I had hoped that VMware purchased Provision Networks VAS instead of Quest, because that would of at least given VMware a TS solution too.  

Unfortunately Quest did nothing to market vWorkspace except some dudes on steroids at VMWorld...still give me nightmares...and Quests entire portfolio is confusing.  How long has it taken Foglight to merge with vRange 3-4 years it seems???  vWorkspace has also slipped in some interesting text into their latest release notes that they don't support virtual desktop with Citrix 11 clients installed....and there are still a lot of legacy apps running on TS/RDS.


@Icelus - As always, I respect your opinion, but I think there's too much weight being given to XenClient. I feel we are once again being given an unhealthy dose of kool-aid.

I understand that the current expectations is that client hypervisors will offer many advantages, including security, image management, etc.

I also acknowledge that with a type 1 client hypervisor, the virtual hardware is more or less standardized, making the OS image more uniform across different hardware configurations. However, the hypervisor itself must be able to support a broad range of hardware (video cards, NICs, etc). In a sense, the client hypervisor becomes an OS in its own right, presenting IT with yet another management challenge, and that leads us back to square one. Besides, who's going to be responsible for installing this type 1 hypervisor on desktop computers? HP, Dell? Would it be an option that you can select on the PC maker's web site when configuring and purchasing a PC? Will it be baked right into the chipset and made easy to manage and update like firmware? What if you want to add a specialized piece of hardware that's not supported by the hypervisor? And the final and most important question is: will Microsoft allow anything to come in between Windows and the PC hardware? I think there are too many headwinds here, and all these questions make me very leery of the prospects of type 1 client hypervisors.

As consumers of technology, we like to be heard by vendors, but more often than not, we seem to be herded by them.


@Tony - I remember that! There were hundreds of attendees at their booth non-stop during the entire event.

Hey, maybe you should hit the gym and start pumping some iron :)


Well well well…

I'm biased on this as I'm a Quest customer but....

I presented at a recent IT exhibition in London as a customer reference requested by MS via Quest and also had a chance to speak to both camps... There is no evidence of Quest being ignored by MS. In fact they had stands next to each other and it was clear this horrified the chaps from the Citrix stand. It was like watching a wife (Citrix) with low self-confidence getting jealous with her husband (MS) “getting it on” with a 3rd party (Quest).

There is certainly merit in saying Citrix is the “leader” and a “central figure” in the desktop virtualization world but that’s mainly down to huge marketing budgets and large portions of the world being molested by what is now XenApp… It's not down to XenDesktopt as a product! They do have great vision but on the odd occasion when Quest do speak out in public they shine a lot more in my opinion. Just look at the video interviews between Citrx, VMware and Quest that Brian did earlier this year. The Jon Rolls interview was by far the best.

vWorkspace does what it says on the tin... XenDesktop fails to deliver and is overpriced/overhyped. They have a decent protocol and that’s about the only thing XenDesktop has to offer that makes it “stand out”...

Interesting post by Citrix here:

“One ought therefore to assume that Microsoft's cooling of it's relationship with Quest is because customers are not adopting the Quest solution. Our field checks confirm this. Citrix appears to have gained the position in desktop virtualization that VMWare has achieved in traditional data center server virtualization. We are the go-to vendor because we don't compete with Microsoft, we have an open architecture, we offer a better end user experience and cater to a broader set of end user use cases, and finally because we offer better value for money.”

Is that the first time Citrix have actually gone on the record “against” Quest?

Like I said before… I’ve seen no evidence of the relationship cooling off between Quest and MS other than some Citrix/MS brown nosing on employer blogs.


@Daniel - That's great feedback. Thanks!

Hmmm, what would happen if MS ends up acquiring Citrix in the weeks or months to come?


I don't think for one second that MS would buy Citrix but on the 0.00009% chance they did... I think they would still have a good relationship with Quest and other partners. Don't forget Quest have a history of fixing MS products and making them work (outside of vWorkspace).

If anything they might open up ICA and other Citrix technologies to partners so it would possibly be a good move. Not so good for VMware...

Then again Citrix and MS do compete which keeps them and the industry on their toes/honest and forces innovation so if MS did buy Citrix theres a chance that the fine work Citrix do would fizzle away.

What would happen if ICA/HDA was license free and open for all to use?


@Daniel - It's often the most unlikely of acquisitions that end up happening. If Microsoft wanted to, they could blow ICA out of the water any time they want, but obviously the prenup agreement is keeping them from doing so for the sake of the kids.

If MS ever acquires Citrix, it would probably be more of a Cloud Computing play, not just ICA.  Besides, I'm sure Citrix is itching to get acquired in this active tech M&A environment. For example, if Cisco or another suiter ever decides to acquire Citrix, MS will probably counter.


MS cares about account control. MS will use Citrix for that to go against VMWare, and if Citrix get’s control in an account with XenServer MS will come back with Quest. I would not pay too much attention to what a sales guy does at MS vs. what is strategic. Quest are a great way to control an account by becoming a MS B I T C H.  @edgeseeker, you mentioned Wall Street so I’ll ask you, who on Wall Street is implementing Quest VDI that matters? Why? It’s the protocol as @Daniel so casually dismissed and as many of my Wall street friends point out. That’s the reason people choose Citrix EOM. Other reasons are very secondary. Quest, as has been pointed out are not thought leaders or have any market share to matter. This is why Cisco is not working with them nobody cares and it’s 100% MS locak-in time, which finally Citrix is slowly growing out of. Quest is an SMB play which is all MS can pull off as well, hence why they will keep Citrix around. Also if MS buys Citrix, it’s the worst thing that will ever happen. We will be married to Widows forever and that will be the end of Citrix helping extend the reach. And @simon is right. Quest don’t even meet the Gartner criteria for enterprise ready, again a SMB play with a solution for a Windows only world for the most part. They have no resources..... And hence their support sucks to.


Bottom line, Quest needs to put their name out there more.

Other collaborations such as Cisco and NetApp don't even have vWorkspace in their radar in terms of marketing.

Cisco's latest announcement with VXI is another example where it's just Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View...


@Appdetective - I think most companies would love to be in the MS B.I.T.C.H. position that you alluded to. In a way, we're all MS B.I.T.C.H.E.S., including you probably.  You might be so reluctantly, but you certainly are one, just like I am.

I don't agree with your assessment that vWorkspace is an SMB play, and that's from experience. Besides, F Gartner! When were they ever right about anything?  And in all fairness, I think Quest's support isn't all that bad, to say the least. I wonder what other vWorkspace users on this blog have to say about that.

This protocol BS has been going on for quite some time. As I said before, MS can blow the Citrix out of the water anytime they choose. It's all about timing. If the desktop is heading into the cloud, Microsoft will reign supreme, and so will RDP.  They've simply been holding back on filling the gap, just to give Citrix enough room to maneuver in this still-tactical space. It's all in the prenup, I'm sure, and they're simply waiting for the kids to turn 18. I don't think they bought Calista just to buy them, or to prevent VMware from buying them. They're just planning for what is coming.  As I said in a previous post, as bandwidth grows more and more ubiquitous, and with more RDP enhancements underway, the case for ICA will weaken, and your Wall St. friends will begin to see it.  

As for the marketing BS, we've seen such kool-aid events in the past from Cisco, in conjunction with VMware and Citrix. In the end, the customer is smart enough to evaluate all the options and make the best choice based on their needs and expectations, not based on marketing maneuvers.


With 22 comments, 3,000+ page views and a post on the competitors web site, I would say that Quest is definitely not "Que-Who."


@Icelus - Cisco doesn't dictate anything. They have their own problems nowadays. In fact, they're doing this at the heels of the worst stock price plunge in the history of the company. They're trying to keep their name front of mind, and in this context, they need Citrix and VMware more than Citrix and VMware need them. In short, Cisco is now 'old technology', suffering from the same lack of love as MS.

Would you make your buying decision based on a Cisco marketing announcement? I don't think so.  


@edgeseeker Yes I dislike MS trying to lock me in but have to live with it in many cases. I think you are missing some key points. Firstly no matter what MS does to RDP (long playing record they don't get it) they are stuck with Windows only solutions. The ecosystem to make RDP work well on Linux, MAC etc is not there and Quest are not going to win there. That's what at scale customers understand and hence RDP will remain a toy for the most part with the current strategy. MS does not have the DNA, vision or leadership and hence they need to acquire those people and let them lead a new business unit perhaps that get's the world is not just Windows, Azure, Phone 7, MDOP and SCCM etc.

I also would not underestimate the significance of Cisco, which for the most part has been completely missed on this blog. Cisco will now be selling a solution and MS is going to do what.........? MS influencing Citrix here is there only bet as Cisco is going to push their UCS vision as well. If MS pushes Citrix too hard, then great Citrix should compete, nothing could be better for the industry and for innovation and a shift towards greater diversity. What this also shows is Cisco is trying to deliver an end to end stack. End to end MS can't deliver a solution, and that will become a problem for them. So sales team flirting with Quest is only going to get them so far. When Bob Muglia says Quest is our friend, Brad Anderson get's them on stage etc, then they matter. Until then they deserver to be behind Texas instruments in terms of relevance.

Actually is Quest is smart they should buddy up with Citrix. I mean Kaviza did, super smart and they win on user experience in the SMB. What's Quest going to do then? Even virtual bridges has more traction with IBM, and desktone is still trying not to die in the DaaS world. What has Quest accomplished in terms of tractions as opposed to the sympathy vote of only this community. Seriously they are just bolt on baggage with no traction who just make no noise and don't matter..... That's my view respectfully. If anybody should be getting more attention it's all the other startups who are solving some problems that the big guys are not,  not just trying copy what already has been done.....


@appdetecttive - Honestly, that's the firstt time I hear of Citrix,  VMware, or Microsoft  copying anyone. Shame on them!  

Actually, I think RDP works pretty darn well on Linux, thanks to Quest vWorkspace. You ought to try it sometime.

I also don't think RDP is a toy by any stretch of the imagination.  It's an integral part of windows, and it's evolving quite nicely.  Its specs are also published for just about anyone to implement on just about any platform of choice. The ASIC-assisted acceleration is a welcome addition, and I'm sure hardware vendors are scrambling to integrate it into their clients and servers.  Sooner than later, you will see the emergence of RDP-optimized hardware, knowing full well that of all the big guys that are often discussed here, it's Microsoft that has the most leverage over hardware vendors.

Like it or not, we live in a windows world,  If the overwhelming majority of applications are Windows-based, then Linux doesn't matter on the desktop.  That's how it is.

As far as DNA, vision, and leadership, when's the last time Citrix demonstrated any hint of that? Let's face it: THEY'RE A ONE-TRICK PONY whose only hope in 2007 was to acquire an open-source company for $500M just to keep VMware's name from eclipsing theirs.  In what way is Citrix a differentiator? And in what way are they a thought leader. In my opinion, THEY'RE A SHEEP HERDER.  They get up on stage with the Muglias and Andersons of the industry just to perform their David Copperfield illusions. And what do we do? We get hypnotized by their BS.

I don't know what Quest's business and marketing strategies are, but on product and technical merit, they definitely got my vote.  In full disclosure, I'm married to them, so I'm not bound by any prenup or any other agreement when I say what I say.  I'm simply stating the facts as I see them.


Take that back - I'm NOT married to them. LOL!!!


We have been using Provision Networks 5.8 since 2007 and it is a great product with fantastic support.  Pitty that they just don't market themselves where in many instances they kick Citrix ass all the way.  Protocol aside vWorkspace is just a better solution than XenDesktop 4.  Rumor has it that XenDesktop 5 will be the begin and end all.  I wish someone want to do a head to head comparison on the 2 products and I know the results will be surprising.  Quest being a SMB play that is pure bullshit same with Gartner.  In our country SMB rules and frankly there is a *** load of $$$ to be made.  If MS will just play fair and give the same attention to Quest then Shitrix it will help a lot.


Just one final comment - regardless of what MS may or may not think about Quest.  The market thinks about Quest.  At today's Credit Suisse 2010 Technology Conference Citrix's David Henshall was asked to compare XenDesktop against vmWare and Quest's offerings but not MS.