Since we first published this post in February, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a huge uptake of Microsoft Teams. So, we decided to review its performance in light of its increased popularity to see if the improvements have lived up to expectations.
Overall, we can confidently say that its performance is noticeably better than the pre-optimised version running on Citrix, with respect to both sound and vision.
However, feedback from customers has revealed a couple of issues that should be addressed.
Firstly, only the main speaker appears in the window. As a result, if you have more than 2 people in a meeting, only the person speaking gets the floor, unlike the fat client version whereby you can see everyone who is on the call at all times.
Secondly, background effects aren’t yet available. So you don’t have the option of a blurred background (very useful when you are in lockdown and calling from an improvised office) or being able to pretend that you are on one of the Halo maps (yes geeks really do love that!).
All in all, it is an improvement, and we fully expect further enhancements in the near future. Watch this space!
If you have any queries about the new Citrix HDX optimisation, or indeed any issues with Citrix virtual environments or Microsoft 365, don’t hesitate to contact Peter Grayson on 0161 537 4980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is the original post by Jack Firth from 19th February 2020.
Will the new Citrix HDX optimisation for Microsoft Teams finally end the frustration of users working in virtual environments?
Any organisation seeking to improve employee productivity and collaboration will acknowledge the increasing role that Citrix is playing in the modern workplace; providing secure remote access to all employees while also cutting IT costs.
Furthermore, with more organisations migrating to Office 365, one of its many benefits is the ability to take advantage of the intelligent communication solution presented by Microsoft Teams which is bundled into Office 365.
As a result, by combining these 2 leading technologies not only can they make your employees more productive, IT teams also benefit from centralised management. With information such as data and chat logs staying in a cloud environment instead of being stored on native devices, it ensures better control over sensitive information.
But while users of the desktop versions of Microsoft Teams have long enjoyed its full functionality, anyone using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops who has attempted to make a video call via Microsoft Teams will have experienced the frustration that comes with latency, pixilation and poor call quality.
With more and more organisations implementing Office 365, organisations have long been asking when Citrix would end the frustration and optimise Microsoft Teams for virtual environments.
What Citrix HDX optimisation for Microsoft Teams could mean for your organisation.
The answer lies with the roll out of Citrix HDX optimisation; an industry first that promises to optimise the delivery of Microsoft Teams (a minimum of version 1.2.00.31357) for virtual environments.
According to Citrix, all users will now get a fully native, fully featured Microsoft Teams experience within Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops; with a single point of authentication that also improves reliability and ease of use.
You can see how Citrix promises to deliver a full native experience of Microsoft Teams within a Win 10 virtual desktop on Azure in the following video:
The key to this huge improvement in functionality lies in the fact that the Citrix Workspace app has a built-in multi-platform HDX Media Engine that ensures optimised device and media handling, with audio, video, and screen sharing offloaded to the user’s device. (You can find the full specification and installation guidelines here.)
What this basically means is that with the new HDX optimisation, instead of it running Microsoft Teams predominantly in the Citrix environment and the external server cluster, it offloads all the traffic onto a device such as the Thin Client on your desk which works in a similar way to BCR (Browser Content Redirection).
Coming to a virtual environment near you soon.
Citrix announced that the release of HDX-optimized Microsoft Teams will be available in a matter of weeks. Their engineering teams are currently putting the final touches on the optimisation, but you should expect it with their next Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops release (you will need to move onto that VDA once released, as well as a future release of the Microsoft Teams client.)
How well it will meet the expectations of the tens of thousands of users working in virtual environments only time will tell, but if the demonstration video is anything to go by then we will see a huge uptake in the use of calls and videoconferencing with Microsoft Teams.
As a consequence, it may just signal the end of the line for Skype for Business, which itself only recently received a Citrix HDX Realtime Optimization Pack (RTOP) that delivered a native-like experience for Skype for Business in virtual environments.
At Quadris we will be reviewing the functionality of the new HDX-optimized Microsoft Teams and reporting back on whether or not it lives up to expectations.