chanpipat - Fotolia

VMware Horizon 6.1 comes with big upgrades, tiny name change

Version 6.1 of VMware's Horizon 6 has a very small name change, but big improvements to the product, including vGPU support for Nvidia GRID and single-user RDSH.

What is VMware thinking, naming the massively updated version of Horizon 6 "Horizon 6"?

There was no shortage of comparisons when Horizon 6 was released in June 2014. The general consensus was that Horizon 6 was a huge step for VMware, but it wasn't nearly as feature-rich as Citrix XenApp 6.5, which most companies were using at the time.

So you'd think that VMware would try to distance itself from that initial release; not because it was bad, but because this update was so significant that it deserves the spotlight in the form of a new version.

Holy cow, did I just ask for MORE marketing?

Technically speaking, this latest version of Horizon 6 is called "Horizon 6 (version 6.1)," which does serve to differentiate it from "Horizon 6 (version 6)," but not in the obvious way I was hoping it would.

The updates to Horizon 6 have been covered extensively, so I won't go into detail, but running down the list shows what an improvement it is over the first release. Some of these make you stop and ask "Wait, it didn't have that before?" Here are just a few new things:

  • Single-user Windows Server 2012 support, so you can deliver single-user Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) desktops to users and avoid Virtual Desktop Access licenses.
  • HTML5 access, which VMware had before, but only for VDI.
  • Smart Card authentication, another thing that was VDI-only.
  • vGPU support for Nvidia GRID. Yep, it was VDI-only before.

There are many more additions, but as you can see from this list, there was a focus on bringing the Horizon 6 feature set closer to that of Horizon View. But why the same version number?

Horizon 6 is the term that VMware uses to encompass both the VDI and RDSH technologies. In fact, VMware's Horizon View page now goes to the page for Horizon 6. That helps explain why there was no major version change: VMware has simply leveled the features across both technologies. Although it can be confusing if you're being told there's vGPU support in Horizon 6, but you're using last year's version of Horizon 6.

Whatever the reason for the subtle versioning of a big change, it's important to know that today's Horizon 6 is not the same as yesterday's Horizon 6. If you were thinking about making a move but were waiting for certain functionality before digging deeper, consider taking a look now.

Of course, Citrix Synergy 2015 is right around the corner, and though the features that VMware just added don't necessarily beat out XenApp 7.6 in any specific area, you can assume Citrix is going to make some announcements of its own.

Next Steps

How ThinApps differ from Horizon 6 hosted apps

Supporting task workers with Horizon 6

Dig Deeper on VMware virtual desktop software