XenApp 6.5 – Windows 7 Desktop Experience Look and Feel

So XenApp 6.5 is now available and ships with a few new features, the main one I will focus on today is the appearance aspect.

A little history…. XenApp 6 had a service provider automation pack made available (http://citrix.com/English/ss/downloads/details.asp?downloadId=2311403&productId=186), this allowed for adjusting of the published desktop to look very similar to Windows 7. Many people had a gripe that a desktop on 2008 R2 did not look as smooth as Windows 7, this helps to address this.

All of this is achieved using a simple group of components:

  • Windows Desktop Experience Role
  • Custom Group Policy Objects

The Windows Desktop Experience role is now added during installation, previously this had to be performed manually if you wanted to make the desktop look like Windows 7.

So now to the proof, here is the before shot:

And the after:

Citrix have done a great job of making this easy; a PowerShell script exists that will create 4 new GPOs within the domain. The steps to achieve this are:

  • Set the PowerShell execution Policy to “AllSigned”: “Set-ExecutionPolicy AllSigned”
  • Execute the following PowerShell script: “C:Program Files (x86)CitrixApp Delivery Setup ToolsNew-CtxManagedDesktopGPO.ps1″
  • This will create 4 new GPOs:

  • Link the GPOs to the relevant locations within your AD structure

A brief summary of the GPO functions:

  • CtxStartMenuTaskbarUser enables the Windows 7 look and feel for published desktops. It also changes the pinned shortcuts on the Taskbar and configures the user’s Start menu to match the Windows 7 environment. This GPO includes a script that executes when a user logs on to the server for the first time. To ensure the script executes correctly, the PowerShell execution policy on the server must be set to AllSigned.
  • CtxPersonalizableUser configures the user account that is accessing the XenApp server. It configures Windows policies to limit the available Control Panel applets and restricts users from installing programs, viewing properties, scheduling tasks, or shutting down the server.
  • CtxRestrictedUser includes most of the policies from the CtxPersonalizableUser GPO. Additionally, this GPO configures the Desktop wallpaper policy to prevent users from personalizing their desktops and prevents users from modifying settings for the Start menu and Taskbar.
  • CtxRestrictedComputer configures certain restrictions on the XenApp servers allocated to the tenant. This GPO restricts users from accessing Windows Update or removable server drives.

Note that either the CtxPersonalizableUser or the CtxRestrictedUser should be applied, not both!

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