Windows 7 on an iPad via Citrix Receiver. Click on the graphic for a larger view. Source: Citrix
Time was the last thing most Apple users wanted to do was run Microsoft software. Well, maybe Office, but certainly not Windows. That changed as the Mac switched to an Intel architecture and solutions came along from companies like Parallels, VMware and others that let business users and other run Windows on Mac hardware. There’s even been some remote “tunneling” solutions that bring access to Windows apps on the iPhone.
Now Citrix is first out of the gate to declare it’s ready to bring Windows 7 to the iPad, which is set to ship later in March.
The Citrix Receiver software is free and already available for Citrix customers with an iPhone, since a Citrix Xen virtualization back-end is required to make this all work. Essentially the iPad becomes a thin client displaying Windows 7 running on a server. Citrix said it has more than 200,000 customers that already use Citrix XenDesktop or Citrix XenApp.
IT managers will be able to control who can access the Windows 7 desktop or even specific applications. “It’s up to them, a lot of companies don’t give the full Windows experience, they can just identify individual applications like Excel or SAP or Oracle, their employees need,” Chris Fleck, vice president of Community Solutions Development at Citrix, told InternetNews.com.
“We’ve been working on this since the iPhone SDK became available and gone through a number of revs to produce a good user experience,” he added. “We think it’s going to be even better on the iPad because screen size won’t be an impediment.”
Go ahead and multitask
Because Windows runs from the server, users will also be able to multitask Windows apps as they would normally on a PC or notebook. The iPad software will not offer multitasking at launch for native software, which has been one of the loudest complaints heard since the iPad announcement earlier this week.
Citrix seems to have a ready market for the product based on user comments at the blog post where the Connector for iPad was announced.
“The iPhone is great, and I have one now, but this would be in another league. The ability to run the iPad as a thin client for XenApp/XenDesktop would make me consider purchasing the iPad.
“This would be great for our C-level Executives and our Field Agents. We are in the Insurance business and this would be great when our agents go out and sell insurance using our Windows Only Application!” wrote Scott Cochran.
An anonymous poster added: “This would be a great solution for my home theatre PC… it’s running windows 7 right now… and I use media center to play all my videos in my database…. so what I see on the screen of the ipad… would also be shown on my 108″ HD projector screen… This would in turn become the BEST remote…. I’ll b coming back for an update.”
Aaron Parker, the first user to comment to the blog, was less enthusiastic because like others, he isn’t sure why he’d want to get an iPad:
“No mouse support may limit its use as a complete desktop replacement; it would be more usable than the iPhone but less portable. So where exactly does it fit?”
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.