Citrix vs VMware vs Microsoft

Are you new to the world of computing or well-versed in everything IT? Either way, you have probably come across these big names in the industry: Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft. All three are credited with impressive contributions to technology, and their profiles stand out in different ways. Let’s have a look. 

Citrix Systems 

Founded by Ed Iacobucci, Citrix is an American-based multinational software company specializing in secure digital workspace solutions that enhance employee productivity and experience. Other than simplifying IT infrastructure, the brand offers enterprises complete transparency into systems performance and tools and techniques to regulate processes. 

Since 1989, Citrix has facilitated access to applications and content that set the benchmark for users to perform their duties with time and location independence. Companies benefit from advanced security, networking, and analytics technologies which allow them to do their very best. 

Key Business Benefits

  1. Better Productivity and Dynamic Employee Experience

Citrix empowers businesses through solutions powered by automation and customized insights. The end result is a streamlined UX that guides teams to work faster, better, and smarter. 

  1. Simplified and Flexible IT Landscape

The company unifies distributed technological ecosystems that enable IT, specialists, to easily manage, deliver, and secure applications on any device, network, or hybrid-multi-cloud architectures. 

  1. Integrated Security Strategy

A multidimensional approach to corporate security thoroughly safeguards physical and data assets and other intellectual property. Citrix addresses this demand through centralized security solutions with integrated smart, context-driven detection, and remediation abilities in potential cyberattack scenarios across users, endpoint devices, applications, and networks. 


Diane Greene formed VMware in 1998 with a small team of tech experts. The company specializes in providing virtualization, cloud infrastructure, and business mobility solutions that minimize IT complexity and enable agile service delivery. These platforms allow organizations to run, manage, connect, and secure applications across devices and clouds in a flexible operating environment. VMware is especially well-known for introducing vSphere, a widely deployed cloud computing virtualization platform. This approach takes into account unique business challenges, accelerates the move to cloud computing, and revamps enterprise IT security and administration. 

Key Business Benefits

  1. End-to-End Cloud Journey

Customers have the freedom to control and secure applications on any cloud which cuts costs, simplifies operational complexity, and boosts business agility. The ability to manage app portfolios across hybrid and native public clouds allows for smart resource allocation, reduces security risks, and offers valuable insights into where workloads are deployed. 

  1. Quality Networking Security

Clients can design, create, and operate a single network for their data and applications, wherever they run. VMware then helps companies reduce their attack surface by integrating security protocols into their infrastructure to provide complete visibility and protection from device to cloud. 

  1. Digital Workspace Redefined

From beginning to end, the team supports security and management for all the data and applications that employees need. Users can also choose where and how to work. Leveraging cloud-based management capabilities, VMware offers self-service, out-of-the-box user experiences scaling across different locations and device ownership models with remarkable versatility.  


A multinational technology corporation, Microsoft’s legacy started in 1975 through the combined efforts of Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Today, the company is a household name on account of developing, licensing, and supporting several products, applications, and services. The Z-80 SoftCard, its first hardware innovation, was released in 1980 and enjoyed instant success. Microsoft’s first OS Xenix, a variation of Unix, also debuted in the same year. The brand then went on to license its MS-DOS OS to IBM for its first PC which was unveiled in 1981. Other contributions soon followed and saw Microsoft building on its success through the 1990s and 2000s. 

Key Business Benefits

  1. Intelligent Business Applications

Microsoft facilitates business apps that promote customer engagement, optimize operations, and boost sales. For instance, companies can improve productivity by connecting corporate data with LinkedIn data. Incorporating Power BI, an analytics service, into ERP and CRM solutions delivers built-in intelligence features that reveal new business possibilities and opportunities. 

  1. Advanced Cloud-Based Technologies 

This range provides real-time insights that help businesses redesign processes and accelerate growth. For example, Azure IoT allows developers to connect apps and services on-premise or in the cloud. These services consist of Windows Azure, an OS with storage, hosting, and management abilities, and Microsoft SQL Azure, a relational database. Azure IoT uses device data to streamline business functions and introduce detailed insights that assist with faster and more informed decision-making. Office 365 allows employees to work from anywhere at any time with simple communication and collaboration platforms like Lync, Exchange, and Sharepoint. 

  1. Empowers Hybrid Data Platforms

Solutions such as SQL Server and Azure SQL Database represent an effective hybrid data platform with seamless migration across on-premises, cloud, and private cloud. Azure Stack extends Azure services and efficiencies without any changes to code. The ability of SQL Server, SQL Server in an Azure VM, and Azure SQL Database to exchange and make use of information contribute to business continuity. Administrators can even set up disaster recovery through ‘Always On’ availability groups. SQL Database Managed Instance enables easy rehosting with no code changes or performance compromises and allows companies to migrate a large database into Azure while ensuring application compliance. 

Who’s The Winner?

‘VDI Citrix vs VMware vs Microsoft’ is a subject which the IT community often discusses in an attempt to better understand the three platforms. Each has its own attributes and strong points which we shall look at next.  

VMware started off as the pioneer of x86 server virtualization that uses specially designed software to transform a physical server into multiple VMs. Each virtual server acts like a unique physical device with the ability to run its own OS. Citrix and Microsoft soon realized how the technology consolidates data center assets to decrease costs and serves as a baseline to drive cloud computing. They began leveraging automation tools and techniques, management capabilities, and vendor partnerships to create USPs with the purpose of virtualizing workloads. 

We can safely pinpoint two findings that greatly determine which company will emerge victorious in the long run: 

  1. The realization that many small and medium-sized businesses are yet to make the transition to virtual environments. As VDI is usually designed to meet large-scale needs (500 users or more), doing the same to meet the IT architecture demands of SMBs demands a feasibility study and in-depth technical assessment.
  2. The need to stay competitive by consistently introducing mature and cost-effective offerings. This is not necessarily an easy undertaking especially where price-conscious industries are concerned.

Point Of Interest

Monitoring VM configuration to stay compliant with business policies and prevent virtual server sprawl especially when preparing businesses for cloud computing are two crucial aspects. Security tools and capabilities like live migration enable administrators to maintain business continuity. If we look at things from a customer’s perspective, creating VMs will require them to look beyond a hypervisor. They must concentrate on self-provisioning, mobility, metering, and charge-back efficiencies to intelligently utilize data center resources. Administrators should be able to manage virtual server resources from x86 deployments back to the mainframe, across multi-platform hypervisors, and alongside physical machines.

Notable Innovations 

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

With this range, IT professionals have total control over VMs, applications, and security, while employees can work from any location with any device. Enterprises can seamlessly deliver Linux, Windows, and web business apps or virtual desktops from any cloud within their digital workspaces. Users have the freedom to utilize apps and desktops independently of device interface and OS. The Citrix team manages most of the product installation, setup, configuration, upgrade, and tracking processes. Enterprises maintain complete control over policies and applications while delivering dynamic UX on any device. 

You connect your resources to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service via the Cloud Connector. This acts as a communication channel between Citrix Cloud and the resource locations, minus any complex networking or infrastructure configuration like VPNs or IPsec tunnels. Resource locations consist of the machines and other resources which deliver desktops and apps to your subscribers. Some common examples are data centers, branch offices, private or public clouds. 

VMware Horizon Cloud

This service enables businesses to rapidly deploy virtual desktops and applications in the cloud or on-premises from a single control pane. Remote and mobile users benefit from secure and all-around access to corporate resources including files, documents, and databases. The platform also offers flexibility in deploying virtual desktops. Businesses can decide between its apps and desktops alone, have the Horizon Cloud in a hosted infrastructure, or access it via Microsoft Azure. In any case, you can put together different deployment options to match your business requirements. 

The solution guarantees maximum productivity at all times, wherever employees may be. It comes with 99.99% uptime to meet rigorous industry standards. 

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

This centralized desktop delivery platform runs Windows apps and graphical desktops from any location and is scalable to meet evolving enterprise needs. Employees with non-Windows devices can use the Remote Display Protocol (RDP) to do the same. Other than offering cloud-based, on-premises, or hosted deployment models to meet different business demands, the solution delivers Windows apps on any device, including Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac. The remote user experience is dynamic and similar to apps running on a local computer. Furthermore, IT can maintain data compliance by keeping sensitive business information and intellectual property off user devices. 

Businesses need not worry about configuration as is the case of a standard desktop. Device configuration is limited in the latter which means that companies may require more time to adapt to new programs or systems. With RDS, all users need to do is establish a connection between their devices and the remote desktop service. Changing devices is a simple matter of disconnecting an existing device and connecting a new one. 

Pricing Structures 

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

The service offers three levels of enterprise pricing with concurrent user or user/device modes.

Citrix Pricing Structure

VMware Horizon Cloud

VMware Horizon Cloud offers two enterprise pricing models with varying service levels. Businesses can also use the pricing calculator on their website to customize a pricing package that best suits their needs.

Pricing Structures VMware Horizon


RDS is available with Windows Server that provides website hosting, user management, resource management, security, and authorization services. As discussed, companies can host resources centrally and roll them out securely to remote clients in an RDS deployment.

Businesses must purchase different licenses to set up an RDS environment and for this, an understanding of RDS CALs (Client Access Licenses) is necessary. Each user and device that connects to a Remote Desktop Session host requires a CAL. 

Microsoft moved from processor-based licensing to core-based licensing for Windows Server 2019 Datacenter and Standard Editions. Having done so, organizations are now receiving a more consistent licensing experience across multi-cloud deployments.

Pricing: Citrix vs VMware vs Microsoft

Disclaimer: we do not accept responsibility for accuracy and completeness of the above prices as they may be subject to change anytime. To the best of our knowledge, all information is accurate as of 2020.

Where Does This Leave Us? 

Each brand is unique in its own right, so the one you choose to work with depends entirely on your budget and business scenario. 

For end-to-end virtualization initiatives that improve workplace ergonomics, we recommend our software and hardware solutions custom-crafted to meet all use cases. To begin with, we worked with Citrix and added further features to our powerful Centralized and Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (CVDI) platform. This harnesses the potential of traditional dedicated hardware with the control, flexibility, and resource consolidation efficiencies of virtualization. Apart from clearing the busy user’s cube and facilitating graphics-intensive rendering, it securely supports business-critical apps, quick OS patches, and plug-and-play scalability. At the same time, companies get to eliminate security risks and reduce the anxiety of a standard PC setup. 

You also receive Citrix-Ready Thin Client devices and other endpoint technologies and our crowning achievement; Blade PCs; which utilize Citrix HDX remote connectivity protocol.

The list does not end here. We have partnered with VMware to deliver VMware-ready Thin Clients supported by the Blast Extreme protocol. Moreover, our SmartVDI solution is built for VMware with the largest selection of Zero Client devices for improved security, reliability, and easy manageability. 
If you have any questions or require further details, please get in touch with our 24/7 online customer service representatives.

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