Microsoft to increase its reach with remote desktop apps

Is Microsoft about to go to war with its longtime virtualization partner Citrix? It sure looks that way, given the imminent arrival of new Microsoft remote desktop apps for iOS, Android, and OS X.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read

Is Microsoft ready to go to war with its longtime virtualization partner Citrix? It definitely seems that way, given the company's announcement on October 7 that it will roll out new remote desktop apps for iOS and Android devices.

Microsoft officials didn't play up the coming Remote Desktop apps, which will be delivered alongside Windows Server 2012 R2. (The apps will be available for download in their respective application stores later this month.) In fact, all they got was a one-sentence mention, buried in a press release.

Once these new Remote Desktop apps, which include an overhauled version of the 2-year-old Mac Remote Desktop client, are available, Microsoft will be providing access to virtual desktops on everything from Windows and Windows RT, to iOS, OS X, and Android. Users will be able to connect from devices running these operating systems to Windows and Windows servers to work with applications and files stored there.

As Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional for desktop services Michel Roth noted, these new remote apps are "a pretty big deal." He said that their existence shows Microsoft is "very serious about enabling BYOD (bring your own device) by means of desktop virtualization."

Roth blogged that the new remote clients are "not as basic or as 'v1' as you might expect." He noted that the iOS Remote Desktop app will support iOS 6 and 7, and the Android app will support Android versions as far back as Gingerbread (version 2.3). He added that the RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) level on these new apps is RDP 8(.1), "meaning you get all the user experience goodness that RDP 8 brought to desktop virtualization."

Remote Desktop has been one of the most popular Windows Store apps among Windows 8 and Windows RT users. The licensing requirements for these apps are complex. Client-access licenses and supporting back-end infrastructure are required to make Remote Desktop work on Windows and non-Windows devices.

Microsoft has not yet shared pricing and licensing specifics for the new Remote Desktop clients. For those asking when/whether Microsoft will deliver a remote desktop client for Windows Phone, I've asked. If I get an answer, I'll update this post.

This story originally appeared as "Microsoft to launch new remote desktop apps for iOS, Android" on ZDNet.