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Horizon 7.3's Awesome Additions

Updated: Feb 15, 2018

With the release of Horizon 7.3 there have been some serious enhancements, I am going to write about a few of these that many customers have asked for in the past.

Application Shortcuts

Horizon provides the ability to present RDSH based applications either from the Horizon client, Identity Manager or by directly connecting to the connection server with HTML5. In 7.3 we now have the ability to assign application shortcuts to the start menu of the connected windows desktop.

This is done by choosing the category folder browse option when creating a desktop pool. We then choose a category from the folder. Once complete we can assign and the connection server will place the shortcuts on the users windows client device. Session Pre-Launch is turned on so the application session is launched before a user opens the application. This makes the launch fast and provides a native like experience.

A nice demo can be found here

Horizon Helpdesk Enhancements

The Horizon helpdesk tool was released in Horizon 7.2 and its a great tool to get insight into details regarding user sessions with client side details such as client name, client IP, username, protocol, and bandwidth information. On the VM desktop we can see details such as machine name, IP address, logon time, duration, session state, connection server etc. It will help with doing actions on the virtual desktop such as sending messages to the user, disconnect, reset and launching RDP to help troubleshoot the VM. In 7.3 some of the new additions are the folowing

  • Show application process resources

  • Display Horizon client information

  • Granular login time metrics

Instant Clone Dedicated Desktop Assignment

Instant Clones are really gathering pace with the simplification and security benefits making it a no brainer. Before this release the desktop assignment setting was for a floating desktop's only. Now in 7.3 we can create instant clone's as dedicated desktop pools, meaning the same assigned user will get the same desktop every time. There are some specific use cases where this may be beneficial due to applications that need the same IP, MAC or hostname to function. It still works the same as floating - when a user logs out it will not retain the changes. In this case user environment manager (UEM) can be leveraged.

Skype for Business - Pack for Horizon

There are sometimes challenges with delivering Skype Audio/Video with virtual desktops, this includes users in remote locations having poor quality and video being heavy on the hosts CPU's. With the Horizon pack S4B can make optimized calls using the native Skype client endpoint (and not the virtual desktop itself). The clients supported right now are

  • Windows 7 SP1

  • Windows 8.1

  • Windows 10

  • WES7

  • Windows 10 IoT

  • Ubuntu 14.04 32-bit

  • Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit

  • Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit

  • RHEL 6.9 32-bit

  • RHEL 6.9 64-bit

  • RHEL 7.3 64-bit

  • CentOS 6.x 32-bit

  • CentOS 6.x 64-bit

  • SLED 12 SP2 64-bit

This approach creates an offload and means that "hair-pinning" is not happening where all audio and video is traversed through the datacenter. Instead all media is sent as separate RTP streams point to point directly between endpoints (clients) outside of the display protocol. Native Skype codecs are used so bandwidth usage is the same as native S4B calls.

Without the plugin VoIP audio and web cam video/media would be sent from the client, to the desktops and then back to the clients thus leading to hair-pinning. With the pack the clients communicate directly to the other client, all media happens from/to the client devices and not traverse back to the DC - increasing performance and efficiency.

Details on the architecture can be found in the following video

In Horizon 7.3 S4B Horizon Pack has some interesting features added. This includes support for Linux distributions along with RDSH support.

A list of the features added is the following:

  • Multiparty audio and video conferencing

  • Horizon 7 RDSH support

  • Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Windows Server 2012 R2

  • Forward Error Correction (FEC)

  • Quality of Experience (QOE) metrics

  • Customized ringtones

  • Call park and pickup

  • E911 (Enhanced 911) support, to allow the location of the mobile caller to be known to the call receiver

  • USB desktop-tethering support

  • Horizon Client for Linux support for the following Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu 12.04 (32-bit)

  • Ubuntu 14.04 (32 & 64-bit)

  • Ubuntu 16.04 (64-bit)

  • RHEL 6.9/CentOS 6.x (64-bit)

  • RHEL 7.3 (64-bit)

  • SLED12 SP2 (64-bit)

Other Features

The items listed above are the biggies for me but there are many more such as advanced Blast Extreme metrics, support for NVIDIA Tesla P40 GPU's, HTML5 video redirection, advancements for Linux desktops and Horizon client updates.

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