Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop vs. VMware Horizon

XenApp and XenDesktop lead the industry in desktop and app virtualization, delivering the only complete solution mobilizing Windows® apps and desktops for any use case. VMware Horizon View’s inadequate solution and lowest common denominator approach to computing impairs the user experience, causes headaches for IT, and fails to meet key business requirements by delivering only basic capabilities to customers.

XenApp and XenDesktop provide 99.5% application compatibility with Citrix App Layering—versus only about 70% compatibility with VMware App Volumes.

Why choose Citrix over VMware?

Citrix HDX technology offers the best user experience over any network, on any device, while Horizon protocol still lags behind in overall virtual experience capabilities.

Citrix security is stronger and more flexible than VMware Horizon, which limits customer choice to one-size-fits-all security and control policies.

XenApp and XenDesktop management is simpler, with built-in support and management tools. Horizon requires multiple third-party tools for complete enterprise-level management and support.

XenDesktop is the most complete desktop and app virtualization platform

  Citrix VMware
Access to Windows and Linux Hosted-Shared desktops
Windows only
Access to Windows and Linux virtual (published) applications
Windows only

Seamless Integration with Fat Clients

Automatic integration of virtualized Windows & Linux Apps as well as SaaS/Web Apps into the Start Menu  
Support for Windows Aero features such as App Switching and Application Peak  
Seamless access to local applications from within VDI or Host shared desktop sessions  


Windows 10 Continuum experience on any device  
HDX™ Mobile optimizes Windows apps for mobile touch screen environments
Low cost but high performance option for endpoints, with the Citrix HDX Ready Pi  
User self-service password unlock and reset  
Automated client configuration based on the user’s email address  
Auto selection of best connection path, between the user and the virtual desktop, with StoreFront Beacons and NetScaler Gateway Optimal Routing  
Simple and consistent user experience on any device Limited
Customizable user interface for corporate branding and messaging, legal acceptance popups, application request and approval workflows Limited
Automated deployment of user interface changes to all Citrix Receiver clients  
Extending the value of Chromebooks by providing users with functionality they expect, like multi-monitor support, seamless windows, USB redirection, printing or support for gestures and multi-touch Limited
Support for anonymous user sessions for kiosk and hot-desk use cases  
Broad support for Linux-based desktops and applications Limited


Optimized session performance even on long distance, limited bandwidth, high latency WAN connections with HDX™ Limited
Near-native app performance on networks with high-latency and high-packet loss with HDX with Framehawk  
Redirection of HTML5 videos (internal websites) for best user experience and increased server scalability.  
Integration with WAN optimization appliances (NetScaler SD-WAN) for up to 80% less network traffic  
Delivery of high resolution visuals at an affordable price, by means of support for Intel Iris Pro Virtual GPU sharing (GVT-g)  
Support for graphics acceleration with GPUs provided by Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. Limited
Driver-less and hassle-free printing from any device and with minimal bandwidth consumption Limited
Optimization for Unified Communications solutions like Skype for Business or Cisco Jabber, reduces latency with local voice and video media processing Limited to VDI

XenDesktop with NetScaler keeps corporate apps and data secure

  Citrix VMware
Built-in gateway for remote access
High security with multi-factor authentication, and activity logging for compliance support
Real-Time Attack Detection and Remediation for zero-day attacks (in combination with XenServer 7 and Bitdefender HVI)  
Support for advanced Windows security capabilities, like Bitlocker (within a VM), Device Guard, Credential Guard, Shielded VMs or Guarded Fabric  
Session Recording for compliance and advanced troubleshooting  
SmartAccess and SmartControl for fine-grained context-aware policy controls for scenario-based access restrictions for virtual applications and client resources  
Advanced pre-authentication end point analysis, for targeted application and session capability restrictions  
Jailbreak detection for iOS devices  
Content-aware, granular controls for clipboard mapping  
Integrated enterprise grade SSL VPN solution  

XenDesktop doesn't limit virtual app and desktop management capabilities

  Citrix VMware
Highly available controller infrastructure an automated failover capabilities
Broad platform support for XenServer, Hyper-V,  vSphere, Nutanix Acropolis, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (soon) with automated VM provisioning as well as IBM Softlayer and physical systems with manual provisioning Limited to vSphere
Integration with Nutanix hyper-converged appliances  
Simple to deploy with 5 min setup and easy-to-use Studio™ console  
Built-in user profile management for desktops and servers
Centralized license management for concurrent user license sharing, usage tracking and simplified Disaster Recovery  
Ability to host and publish any application (16, 32 and 64 bit / incompatible with server OS) by means of VM-Hosted Apps  
Support for applications that use a loopback address for inter-process communication (Virtual IP Loopback)  
Secure remote access to physical desktop PCs (RemotePC) with Wake-on-LAN support  
Repurpose of legacy PCs with Receiver Desktop Lock  
Innovative real time user and application analysis, for RAM, CPU, and Input/Output (I/O) optimization (up to 70% higher user density)  
Industry-leading optimization of user logon times (<15s), with Workspace Environment Management  


Enterprise scalability for 100,000+ users and 1,000 servers Limited
NetScaler load-balancing (optional) for 99.999% high availability  
Support for modular / globally distributed infrastructures for desktops and apps Limited
App folder visualization for large app collections  

Support and Monitoring

Built-in end-user support console for efficient incident handling (incl. historical performance trending) Limited
Application usage statistics and trending Separate
Hotfix inventory for simplified troubleshooting  
Integrated real-time network level monitoring and trending with HDX Insight  
Integration with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) for full infrastructure stack monitoring  
Best practice analysis, security recommendations, diagnostics and issue resolution by means of Citrix Insight Services/Smart Check  

Systems and Application Management

Built-in image management for desktops and servers (physical and virtual)
Enterprise ready single image management for Linux-based virtual desktops  
Reduction of the I/O footprint of virtual desktops / servers by over 90% with built-in storage caching technologies  
Integrated application compatibility and interoperability testing, dependency discovery and image validation with AppDNA  
Simplified application and desktop management with Citrix App Layering

Application Compatibility  

High   Medium

True Single Image Management


Integrated with VDI/HSD


Cloud Ready


Application Start & Login Times

Low High

 Any Infrastructure


OS Layering


Enterprise Management




Application Rollback

Flexible application publishing based on server and application tags, simplifies day-to-day management and rollout activities.  
Application Limits to limit the number of users accessing an application and/or limit the number of simultaneous instances of resource-intensive applications  
Sophisticated VM Power Management for increased power efficiency (desktops / servers) Limited
Flexible mechanisms for automated VM reboot (incl. user notifications)  
Integration of Microsoft App-V for centralized application delivery management  
Integration with System Center Operations Manager  
Integration with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager for application management and publishing  
Flexible and non-disruptive infrastructure upgrades and N +/- 1 major version support  

Additional resources

Go beyond VMware Horizon

Explore the top three areas Citrix outperforms VMware.

Read white paper

Why Citrix beats VMware

See how Citrix delivers the user experience, security, and flexibility that the competitors don't.

View infographic

Why customers choose Citrix over the competition

Hear from three customers why 
they chose Citrix over VMware and other competitors.

 Watch video (2:02)

We performed a concept test with Citrix, VMware, and Quest. After the tests, we realized that Citrix offered us the most well-suited technology.
Henry Longa Alegría
IT Services Manager
Peruvian University of Applied Sciences

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