Move over Citrix! Microsoft and Quest form "a winning partnership" for desktop virtualization

At this week's Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft and Quest Software jointly announced that the two of them are "a winning partnership" for desktop virtualization.

At this week’s Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft and Quest Software jointly announced that the two of them are “a winning partnership” for desktop virtualization. They even have a dedicated microsite and an eight-city road show to talk about how great the two of them are together. This is a big change from the past where Citrix received most (if not all) of Microsoft's public attention and praise. Sure, there were other partners like Quest and Ericom, but whenever Microsoft was in public, it was “Citrix Citrix Citrix.”

So after being the sole recipient of Microsoft's Terminal Server love for over a decade, how will Citrix react to sharing the spotlight? Will they lash out? Will they deny Quest's threat? Will they feign ignorance?

As for Microsoft, expanding their desktop virtualization circle to include more than just Citrix makes sense for several reasons. (Not least is the fact that all these solutions push Windows, and the more Windows out there, the happier Microsoft is.) Back in March I wrote “Citrix and Microsoft: who’s controlling who?” where I wondered whether Citrix needed Microsoft more or Microsoft needed Citrix more. This week’s announcement with Quest could simply be Microsoft hedging themselves a bit and allows Microsoft to start to be successful in this space even if Citrix fails. (Not that I'm suggesting that Citrix will fail, but hey, if you're Microsoft and you can hitch your horse to two wagons, then why not?)

There's even an argument that could be made that Quest is actually a more "Microsoft-friendly" partner than Citrix. While Citrix has this weird competition / cooperation with Microsoft, Quest's VDI solutions don't compete with any of the revenue products Microsoft is pushing for VDI.

Citrix, on the other hand, is marketing XenApp for hosted apps and streaming and telling everyone how it's the best solution while Microsoft is standing there thinking "Um... streaming? Hello? We have App-V! Grrr!" And then there's the whole XenServer thing which is a competitor to Hyper-V (although the Citrix Server Essentials for Hyper-V will probably help Hyper-V, but you have to pay for it). So it's just a really complex and multi-level relationship. And if the VDI market really does explode in the next few years, Microsoft has probably had enough of working with only Citrix. And since Microsoft will compete against VMware in platform virtualization and desktop virtualization, Microsoft has to get this right.

This is like when you're a kid and your dad lets you steer the boat when it's easy and there are no other boats around, but as soon as you get into some congestion, you dad steps in and takes over. For ten years, Microsoft has been able to essentially "outsource" the TS messaging to Citrix. Citrix delivered them the revenue and no one at Microsoft really paid attention. But now that things are getting busy, Microsoft is thinking, "Ok, we need to actually do something here, and we can't let it all be with Citrix who's sending us really mixed signals (competition wise).

How funny would it be if Citrix was thinking, “Hey Microsoft, this is bullshit! Man.... we were there for you! For all the good years! Through thick and thin. And now that our market is growing from a few billion dollars to tens of billions of dollars, this is how you repay us?" Oh they irony! There are dozens of companies that Citrix embraced and partnered with over the years, but as soon as Citrix bought or built a competing product, then Citrix dropped them and stopped letting them come to iForum. Well maybe this is Citrix's bad karma coming back to bite them!

Or maybe none of this is true, and Quest just made a huge co-marketing payment to Microsoft, in which case I'd like to point out to the Quest-Microsoft marketing machine that BriForum 2009 Chicago is coming up in three short months!

Attention VDI customers: Do you want a 'winning partnership' or 'better together'?

Of course just because Microsoft has started virtual desktop messaging with Quest doesn't mean they're going to ditch Citrix overnight (or ever). And in fact that whole Microsoft-Citrix "Better Together" ISV partnership page is still there. (I guess this means that as a customer, you have to chose whether you want a 'winning partnership,' or one that is 'better together.'

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Quest is a better fit product-line-wise - they lack a Hypervisor, so Microsoft can push Hyper-V/SC VMM and App-V


This is funny Quest was just in here talking to us about vdi and when we asked them what Hypervisor to use hyper-V or vmware they said hands down vmware. They even said they could come in and do a joint presentation with the vmware sales team because they are vmware's best partner on vdi. But if we really wanted hyper-v they can come in with microsoft for a joint presentation.


I have to be careful as to what I say since I am obviously biased but I think that even a objective outsider sees that the Quest-MS portfolio (for TS and VDI) is a more natural fit than the CTX-MS mix. This is not even taking into account the financial challenges that the latter mix introduce.

Just my (biased) two cents.


Personally, I wouldn’t read too much into this. I don’t think its a seismic shift in MS’s approach to virtualization. MS forms lots of partnerships; some survive, some result in acquisition, some die a natural death. Quest is not a huge player in the large corporate environment (unlike Citrix) so maybe this is just an MS positioning strategy to ensure it has all the bases covered (i.e. SMEs). I like the Quest portfolio, but I’m not 100% convinced on its scalability and maturity; maybe a partnership with MS will raise its profile then we’ll see where that takes it. Currently, the MS and Quest offerings are largely complimentary, but that is almost certain to change as the MS VDI offering matures. Quest need to keep a keen eye on their new best friend to make sure they’re not giving away all their USPs or their niche will slowly disappear.


This seems like a bigger FU VMWare than anything else. Competition is great and just validate this space even further. Quest sucks as a company and let's see how long they last. Why did jeff pitch leave?


I work for MSFT. Based on this post and Alessandro's post yesterday, I'm sensing the feedback that we need to do a better job demonstrating our go-to-market plans around remote desktop and all things desktop/app virtualization.

The work with Quest is  similar to the technology integration work that many partners, including Citrix and Unisys, do with Microsoft products. Microsoft offers a platform on which partners build upon. In this case, Quest has built its VDI solution on WS08 Hyper-V, App-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Our strategy has been around offering customers a portfolio of solutions to optimize their desktops. You can refer back to January 2008 when we starting talking about 5 end-user scenarios for optimized desktop. Since then Citrix has been the most visible ISV partner, and they continue to be a strategic partner. Quest's announcement means that customers have another choice. Last, we don't have exclusive partnerships around VDI, despite what the perceptions might be in the market. As an example, we have successful sales activities with Unisys, too, but we likely don't talk about that one enough either. In the end, our platform approach and choices to build Windows-based solutions should result in an economic benefit for customers and our partners.


Was it not just to go over the only market VMWare could escape : VDI ? Microsoft and Citrix are going strongly (and for free) against the traditional VMWare market the hypervisor...


I wouldn't read too much into this, MS is trying to build the market and seeks to treat ISV's equally.

Quest should be getting some MS love, they have committed their platform to the new MS offerings and created an elegant and cost effective solution.

This doesn't detract from the Citrix relationship, it strengthens the market and levels the playing field. Citrix could learn a few things from Quest and that is OK.

Don't read too much into it.... it is ujust that none of us are used to their being anyone else getting press besides Citrix!


Ok, for TS add-ins we have Citrix, and Ericom, and 2x and etc etc etc.

So for vdi we have Citrix, and Quest, and etc etc etc.

MS has always diversified their portfolio.  Will this cut into the Citrix marketshare?  Probably not.  As a partner there is still the added value of the ICA protocol that other people don't have.  And companies with smarts can see the added value that it gives now and in the future.


Stucco, many of the tools that are in vWorkspace have been available as Citrix and Terminal Services add-ons since 2001, i.e.  Universal Printer Driver, User Profile Management. User Configuration and lockdown, file & registry redirection, application and server load balancing, virtual IP addressing, cpu & memory management... These are all Quest intellectual property, not OEM from other vendors.

I just wanted to clarify that vWorkspace is not just for VDI, as it's a single connection broker infrastructure, database, license, client and management console for Terminal Services, VDI and blade/physical PCs.  That means that one can deliver seamless applications, desktops, content or App-V virtualized applications from any of these three platforms from a single product.

All this means is that customers have a choice, which will push Citrix and Quest to innovate.


AppD,  you're a pretty smart guy but I was a little put off by your comment.  It's not fair to Quest to post something like that (and, yes, I am a self confessed Citrix nut-hugger) in addition to posting something about Jeff.  Jeff has not public statement (as far as I know) why he left Quest.  There are many reasons people join and quit a company but it doesn't make it a bad company.  Maybe you should ask,  why is Patrick Rouse and Rick Mack still working for them?  Those two are awesome guys and if they are still working for Quest then there must be something to it.



I think it's fair to Quest given my experience with their teams and products, if others disagree I have no issue, competition is fine. There is no way that i would ever work this company to do apps or desktops when that is not their core, just my view. Fair point about Jeff etc, no offence intended.