Citrix just released a tech preview / beta of XenClient 2, their client-based bare-metal hypervisor. Gabe Knuth caught up with Citrix's XenClient product manager Peter Blum at Citrix Synergy 2011 in San Francisco last week for a demo.
The main feature in v2 is more hardware compatibility, with the new version supporting about three times as many devices as the v1. The new version will run on non-vPro devices (although they still only support Intel CPUs--not AMD). Citrix has also added support for AMD Radeon and FirePro graphics processors (in addition to the Intel-integrated graphics), and Nvidia support is in the works. (Although like v1, only one VM gets access to the CPU (and therefore the 3D graphics). All of the lower-end laptops fall into a category classified as "volume enterprise," which means that XenClient now runs on the laptops that real companies actually buy (whereas before it was limited to high-end laptops).
XenClient 2 also supports laptops from Panasonic, NEC, Fujitsu, and Toshiba (in addition to the previous models from Dell, HP, and Lenovo).
We also saw a few "little" features, like official support for Linux guests, a simplified user interface (that's brandable by the OEMs), and increased memory support (up to 8GB per VM).
Citrix also updated the back-end Synchronizer and pushes and pulls images from the clients. The Synchronizer that came with XenClient 1 backed up too much, so the v2 Synchronizer only focuses on collecting the user bits that actually change. Citrix has implemented this via something they're calling the "profile," where they split the user disk and the user profile into two separate VHDs and then only back up the user one. (This is actually exactly what VMware View does, except they call their profile disk the "user data disk.") Both products let you do cool things, like replace the system disk with a new one without losing any data or settings from your user disk.
XenClient 2 still supports the VM-to-VM published apps, which Citrix calls "Secure Seamless." These connections are made with the "real" HDX stack and use the real HDX online plug-in for the Citrix Receiver. You can even tweak the border color of the apps from the other VMs so the users know they're not using apps from within their current VM.
The bottom line with XenDesktop 2.0, in Citrix's mind, is that this release is ready for real production use. It's got production scale, and production security, and now they're getting ready for people to use it for real. The XenClient 2 Tech Preview is available now if you want to play with it.