XenDesktop 5.5 is Here!

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Citrix is announcing the immediate availability of XenDesktop 5.5.

Citrix continues to innovate in the desktop virtualization space and build on the on the market leading trajectory established with first with XenDesktop 4.0 — the industry’s first VDI offering to provide integrated app and desktop delivery in a single product – and extended with XenDesktop 5.0 —  focused on simplification and scalability for the administrator to deploy and manage virtual desktops.   With the release of XenDesktop 5.5, Citrix  takes it up a notch yet again and sets the new standard for desktop virtualization — including the ability to deliver personal VDI desktops, provide an unparalleled user experience with more than 150 new HDX features and enhancements, deliver “headquarters-like” experience across the  WAN to  remote workers and branch offices and new Citrix Receivers for Windows and MacOS.  Whew!  That was a long sentence :-)

You can read about all of the news here.

Personal VDI desktops and reducing cost

The Citrix focus on end user experience and reducing costs of virtual desktop deployments was the driving force behind the RingCube acquisition and today’s announcement of the availability of the personal vDisk technology as a feature of XenDesktop 5.5.

If you haven’t heard about it, the new personal vDisk technology enables IT to realize the cost saving and management of pooled virtual desktops, while providing  personalization capabilities for profiles, data and applications that is typically found in a dedicated VDI deployment model.   Since we announced the acquisition of RingCube two weeks ago, my inbox has exploded with requests for more information regarding pricing,  packaging and availability.  I am pleased to confirm today that the personal vDisk technology will be included in all editions of XenDesktop at no additional charge.  The personal vDisk technology is available today as an “Early Access” feature for customers with Software Assurance to use in their labs and proof of concepts to get familiar with the technology.  In less then two weeks since the closing of this acquisition, we have delivered on the first release that is integrated with XenDesktop.  Using XenDesktop Studio, administrators can quickly create and deploy virtual desktops that take advantage of the personal vDisk technology.  The combination of the user acceptance of the personal VDI desktop and the IT cost savings allow organizations to deploy virtual desktops to a wider based of end users – truly creating a win-win situation.

You get additional technical information on the personal vDisk here.

New! XenApp 6.5 Available Now!

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These are exciting times for desktop virtualization.  The industry is growing and Citrix is leading the charge.  The XenDesktop product line is getting plenty of well-deserved attention, but today Citrix is also announcing exciting new enhancements for XenApp 6.5. Whether included as a component of XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum or deployed as a standalone product, XenApp has long been recognized as the de-facto standard in on-demand app delivery.  Now with turbo-charged app launches and a seamless multimedia experience over any network, XenApp 6.5 makes the user experience better than ever.

Instant App Access

The XenApp 6.5 feature generating the most excitement among customers is Instant App Access.  Gone are the days when users would have to wait several seconds for the creation of an ICA session before their application launched.  By creating an ICA session immediately upon user log-in to Citrix Receiver, Session Pre-Launch dramatically reduces overall application launch times. Since the ICA session is created even before the user clicks the application icon, the only remaining time to wait is for the application launch itself.  Depending on the application, this can be nearly instantaneous.

Similar technology allows an ICA session to linger after users close their last published app so that the next application launch is just as instantaneous.  While these features do consume a license, the time periods for lingering or pre-launch are configurable by the IT admin.

Seamless multimedia experience with HDX

With only a few exceptions, all of the HDX enhancements seen in XenDesktop 5.5 are also applicable for XenApp 6.5. For example, significant updates to HDX MediaStream for Flash mean that Adobe® Flash® content can be rendered locally over more network conditions than before.  This dynamically takes advantage of computing resources at the end point, resulting in even higher server scalability and a great user experience even at up to 300ms round-trip latency.

Multi-Stream ICA

IT administrators now have the option of delivering XenApp ICA traffic over up to four TCP/IP streams. Now instead of prioritizing the entire ICA pipeline over HTTP traffic, this feature enables more granular control for Quality of Service (QoS) routing.  Now customers can provide superior audio/visual quality for apps delivered over the WAN for example without disrupting other HTTP traffic.

Any Device, Anywhere with Citrix Receiver

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XenApp 6.5 takes advantage of new Citrix Receiver enhancements for extreme multi-tasking, faster Windows app performance and advanced Linux device support. Customers can now deliver self-service apps to more than one billion devices, including PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones, and thin clients – and all major device operating platforms, including new environments like iOS, Android, and Google ChromeOS.   Add it all up and we’re talking about over 1 Billion devices.

Enhanced Desktop Experience

Previously provided as an add-on pack for XenApp 6.0, support for an enhanced desktop experience is now included as an integrated feature of XenApp 6.5. IT can transform the typical server desktop published by XenApp.  This feature enables support for themes, installs accessory apps, and allows for the display of high-res wallpapers.  With a Windows-7 like Start Menu and taskbar, users can enjoy the look and feel of a Windows 7 desktop, while IT can benefit from the server density and locked down image management of a hosted shared desktop

Desktop Director

When end-users need support help with their XenApp delivered apps, help desk support staffs can use the popular Desktop Director console that now includes the integrated capability to assist users with applications delivered by XenApp and with desktops delivered by XenDesktop.

Dynamic Data Center Provisioning

Now XenApp 6.5 deployments can be scaled in record time by creating “controller” or “worker” roles in a XenApp server farm.  Because workers in the farm need to sync much less data, fewer overall database transactions are required.  Plus, these new roles make the process of joining a large number of servers to a XenApp farm faster and easier.

These are just a few of the new features in XenApp 6.5.  For a full list of all features and a comparison to previous versions, you can refer to the new comparative feature matrix.

For a free interactive overview of XenApp 6.5 be sure to check out this new online course.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 SP1 released

Are your datacenter costs rising? Does your current infrastructure make it difficult to scale up or down quickly to respond to the changing needs of your organization? To meet these challenges, you need a more cost-effective, agile way to provide IT services—quickly, efficiently, and on demand.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 SP1 is a free, partner-extensible solution that allows you to dynamically pool, allocate, and manage datacenter resources. Using the Self-Service Portal, you can reduce IT costs, while increasing agility for your organization. The Self-Service Portal works with products and technologies you know and trust, like Windows Server and the System Center product suite. This solution delivers:

  • Automated web portals and a workload provisioning engine that integrates with System Center.
  • Tested guidance and best practices to help configure and deploy private cloud infrastructures.
  • Guidance to help partners easily extend functionality.
  • Localization in three languages: Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.

Self-Service Portal Technology Partners

The Self-Service Portal includes powerful extensibility features for Microsoft technology partners. Independent software and hardware vendors can customize different virtual machine actions (create, delete, stop, start, shut down, connect, pause, and so on) to take advantage of the unique characteristics of their infrastructure.

Citrix

Citrix Integration Pack for Self-Service Portal

The integration pack integrates Essentials for Hyper-V with System Center by automatically provisioning the storage whenever a virtual machine is commissioned though the Self-Service Portal.
Learn more >

Compellent

Compellent Solution Pack for Self-Service Portal

Utilizing Windows PowerShell® with the Compellent Storage Center SAN, Compellent’s Solution Pack enables the integration and support for self-service provisioning of data storage resources with Virtual Machine Manager and Windows Server Hyper-V™ through the Self-Service Portal.
Learn more >

f5

F5 Solution for Self-Service Portal

The F5 solution for Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal adds the option for traffic management by the BIG-IP application delivery controller (ADC) within the service role section of a user request. Executing this option automatically configures the BIG-IP for the request of VMs as they come online.
Learn more >

HP

HP Services Using the Self-Service Portal

Accelerate your journey to the private cloud with HP’s Converged Infrastructure and HP Technology Consulting services. Begin with a short assessment, then continue to implementation based on HP’s deep experience in the datacenter. HP uses pre-developed scripts, portals, and cmdlets to integrate into your environment and build a self-service infrastructure.
Learn more >

Intel

Intel Cloud Builder Guide: Cloud Design and Deployment on Intel Platforms

The Intel reference architecture will assist organizations that require their cloud data and assets to reside on premises and those that need to support a new business domain with a separate IT infrastructure that is scalable and flexible.
Learn more >

NetApp

NetApp ApplianceWatch PRO 2.1.1

Accelerate virtual machine provisioning, and increase storage efficiencies in private cloud implementations managed by the Self-Service Portal with the integration scripts and PowerShell cmdlets included in ApplianceWatch PRO 2.1.1 that enable rapid provisioning of space-efficient VMs using NetApp FlexClone technology.
Learn more >

VKernel

VKernel Chargeback with Hyper-V

VKernel Chargeback with Hyper-V enables private clouds to automatically map virtualization costs to applications and customers by reporting on allocated costs and by measuring and expensing the actual consumption of server and storage resources by cloud customers.
Learn more >

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 is out

What’s New in SQL Server 2008 R2 SP 1 ?

Dynamic Management Views for increased supportability:

sys.dm_exec_query_stats DMV is extended with additional columns to improve supportabilities over troubleshooting long-running queries. New DMVs and XEvents on select performance counters are introduced to monitor OS configurations and resource conditions related to the SQL Server instance.

ForceSeek for improved querying performance :

Syntax for FORCESEEK index hint has been modified to take optional parameters allowing it to control the access method on the index even further. Using old style syntax for FORCESEEK remains unmodified and works as before. In addition to that, a new query hint, FORCESCAN has been added. It complements the FORCESEEK hint allowing specifying ‘scan’ as the access method to the index. No changes to applications are necessary if you do not plan to use this new functionality.

Data-tier Application Component Framework (DAC Fx) for improved database upgrades:

The new Data-tier Application (DAC) Framework v1.1 and DAC upgrade wizard enable the new in-place upgrade service for database schema management. The new in-place upgrade service will upgrade the schema for an existing database in SQL Azure and the versions of SQL Server supported by DAC. A DAC is an entity that contains all of the database objects and instance objects used by an application. A DAC provides a single unit for authoring, deploying, and managing the data-tier objects. For more information, see Designing and Implementing Data-tier Applications.

Disk space control for PowerPivot:

This update introduces two new configuration settings that let you determine how long cached data stays in the system. In the new Disk Cache section on the PowerPivot configuration page, you can specify how long an inactive database remains in memory before it is unloaded. You can also limit how long a cached file is kept on disk before it is deleted.

Fixed various issues:

This update fixes many knowledge base issues that are listed in this Master KB article.
Link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2463333

For a detailed list of new features and improvements that are included in SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1, review the What’s New Section in Release Notes.
Link: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9764593

Now Sp1 is officially released, you can download the service pack from the Download Center:
Download: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26727

If you’re looking for SP1 for SQL Server Express:
Download: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26729

And the updated feature packs can be found here:
Download: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26728

The build number is 10.50.2500. SELECT @@VERSION will now yield something like this:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (SP1) – 10.50.2500.0 (X64)
Jun 17 2011 00:54:03
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation
Developer Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)

Firefox 4 final release on March 22!

After twelve betas, one release candidate and a year of development, Mozilla plans to release the final version of Firefox 4 on March 22 around 7AM PDT.

Tech blog ConceivablyTech spotted the date on Mozilla’s official release schedule yesterday and a message to developers from Mozilla senior engineering director Damon Sicore indicated the first and only Firefox 4 release candidate would likely ship as the final version of the browser. Firefox 4 RC1 was made available on March 9.

”As of now, there are no known issues that would stop us from shipping RC1 as final…March 22nd is the day we would ship.  Both IT and Marketing have indicated that March 22nd is an acceptable final launch date.  If at any time we discover issues that would block final release, we would issue an RC2 as soon as possible, reset the ship date, and communicate to everyone,” he said.

Despite Mr Sicore’s mention of the possibility of a second release candidate, Mozilla planning notes indicate the company would most likely push Firefox 4 out the door on March 22 and follow-up with an incremental update to fix any minor issues.

”Several issues have been identified as potential ridealongs, meaning we might do a 4.0.1 release,” the notes said.

The final version of Firefox 4 was originally scheduled to ship in November 2010, but repeated delays saw the release schedule revised on more than one occasion. Given that rather chequered history, it remains to be seen if Firefox 4 will actually ship on March 22 as planned.

Based on the Gecko 2.0 engine, Firefox 4 will bring an updated user interface, new ways to organize tabs, a revamped add-on manager, support for HTML5 video standards, multitouch support on Windows 7 and a range of performance and security enhancements.

Mozilla has indicated a desire to move to a faster release schedule following Firefox 4, with mozilla.org co-founder and Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich telling developers users could be running the fifth version of Firefox just months after Firefox 4 is released.

Internet Explorer 9 is here!

Microsoft has launched the much anticipated IE9.

To start experiencing a more beautiful web with IE9 and to visit a small set of the top 250 web-sites globally that have created a more beautiful experiences for all of us with IE9, go to http://beautyoftheweb.com/experience.

Internet Explorer 9 has now been downloaded 2.35 million times in the first 24 hours since its Monday night release. That is over 27 downloads every second, or over 240 downloads every 9 seconds. Wow!.

They want to thank everyone around the world for downloading IE9 and the enthusiastic reception. 2.3 million downloads in 24 hours is over double the 1 million downloads we saw of the IE9 Beta and four times that of the IE9 RC over the same time period.

In case you missed it, check out the collection of videos from the SxSW launch event. Ze Frank’s demo of Star.ME is one not to be missed!

You can see all of the demos and the complete launch event by clicking play below. And to download Internet Explorer 9 for yourself, visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com.

Ze Frank’s demo of Star.ME is one not to be missed!

You can see all of the demos and the complete launch event by clicking play below. And to download Internet Explorer 9 for yourself, visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com.

 

Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 Service Pack 1 provides the latest updates to App-V 4.6

Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1 (App-V 4.6 SP1) updates App-V 4.6 with the latest security and stability enhancements to help keep computers running App-V up-to-date, reliable, and more secure. The goal of this service pack is to increase the overall quality of the existing product features while maintaining a high level of compatibility with previous releases. ‘
Feature Summary:

  • Streamlined application sequencing – Improvements to the App-V 4.6 SP1 Sequencer make packaging applications for App-V easier and faster.
  • Support for using a read-only cache on RDS – App-V 4.6 SP1 now supports using a shared, read-only cache in both VDI and RDS environments.
  • Support for sequencing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 – App-V 4.6 SP1 now supports sequencing the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0.
  • Customer Feedback and Hotfix Rollup – App-V 4.6 SP1 also includes a rollup up of fixes to address issues found since the Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 release.

Download details Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (KB976932) and download

Service Pack 1 is now available on Technet for subscribers.

Consumer end-users can find general information about Windows 7 SP1 at the following Microsoft website:

http://windows.microsoft.com/windows7sp1

Public downloads will be here

Windows 7 Service Pack 1

To obtain Windows 7 SP1, visit the following Microsoft website:

http://windows.microsoft.com/installwindows7sp1 (http://windows.microsoft.com/installwindows7sp1)

Windows 2008 R2 Service Pack 1

To obtain Windows 2008 R2 SP1, visit the following Microsoft website:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=199583

The following documentation for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 is provided here.

Deployment Guide for Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 and Windows 7 with SP1.doc 213KB Download

Hotfixes and Security Updates included in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.xls 465KB Download

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1.doc 94KB Download

Release Notes for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.doc 87KB Download

Release Notes for Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1.doc 87KB Download

MS KB Information about Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2