Citrix HDX Optimization pack 2.0

By | January 2, 2016

With the late release of XenDesktop 7.7, Citrix also released a new version of the HDX optmization pack for Skype/Lync. The earlier release 1.8 had some limitations which the 2.0 release managed to fix. This is the list of improvements.

  • Native Skype for Business 2015 UI – Provides the full Skype for Business UI experience and eliminates the limitations of a hybrid UI. Examples of features that were not supported in HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 1.8 but are now available through the native Skype for Business UI include:
    • Call Delegation – Enables setting up a Skype for Business meeting on behalf of someone else. For example, an administrative assistant setting up meetings for a manager.
    • Voicemail access, playback, and delete – Ability to access your voicemail, play it, and delete from Skype for Business.
    • Response groups – Enables the response group feature, which routes incoming calls to groups of people called response group agents. 
    • Team call groups – Set up a team of people who can answer your calls. You add and remove members and specify when they can answer calls for you. Members phones ring and once someone answers the call, the other phones stop ringing.
  • Authentication and SIP signaling  handled exclusively by the Skype for Business client – This release introduces architectural simplifications that improve robustness and user experience (for example, initialization time).
  • Web proxy support – Enables external access using a web proxy with limitations. For more information, see Limitations in 2.0.
  • Click-to-Run – Devices where Microsoft Office applications have been installed using Click-to-Run support HDX RealTime Optimization Pack. 
  • Pairing Status Indicator – Icon that displays these status states:
    • Connecting – MediaEngine.Net is trying to establish a RealTime Connector connection.
    • Connected – There is a RealTime Connector connection over a virtual channel and the version of remote RealTime Media Engine matches the version of mediaEngine.Net exactly.
    • Fallback – There is a RealTime Connector connection to a local RealTime Media Engine process.
    • Disconnected – A registry setting (policy) prevented MediaEngine.Net from running RealTime Media Engine locally.
    • Version mismatch – Same as Connected but the version match is not exact (different patch or build numbers)
  • Improved audio-video quality – Improvements to the RealTime Media Engine:
    • Improved resilience to packet loss 
    • improved echo cancelation
  • Skype server settings – HDX RealTime Optimization Pack obeys the Skype for Business Server settings that control whether or not the endpoint can do audio and/or video calling.
  • Active speaker identification – Displays a photo of the current speaker.
  • Call and video call buttons added to the contact card – Enables calls and video calls to be started with a click of a button in the contact card.
  • Automatically join meeting audio controls – You can use Settings to specify how you want to join a meeting:
    • Use Skype for Business (full audio and video experience)
    • Use a phone number
    • Don’t join audio

Now the biggest improvements are, click-to-run support which allows full integration with Office365 software. Remember that if using Office365 on an RDS enviroment you need shared computer support enabled. Another big thing is full Skype for Buisness UI support, in 1.8 you needed to convert the Lync UI.

Like before we need to install the Citrix Media Engine on the supported clients and the Realtime connector on the VDA which has Skype installed.

Now unlike previous versions, there is no longer any help icon within the Skype UI, this is now moved to the taskbar to its own config

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Connected to a Citrix XenDesktop 7.7 behind a Netscaler Gateway against Office365

Now if you for instance have some issues with the connector, there are some quick things to think about.

  • Save version of Realtime Connector?

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  • Failback policy enabled? (NOTE: Using fallback means that it goes back to regular HDX Realtime processing, which does not give the same benefits and all processing is happening on the VDA agent. This can be disabled by registry on the VDA agent by using adding the following
  • Key: HKLMSoftwareCitrixHDXRTConnector or HKCUSoftwareCitrixHDXRTConnector

    Value: DWORD DisableFallback

  • Exception in the Firewall made?

Anyhow, with this release we can now support almost any client with full support against skype for buisness on-premises and in Office365

As we can see from a Skype Call, the mediaengine service acts like a Skype client and has a real-time connection to the “edge” server in this case its the Office365 edge server

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Also noticed that there is now no longer need for ADFS since it automatically authenticated using the Skype for Buisness credentials, awesome!

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