Citrix developing XenApps and XenDesktop for the iPhone

Users will gain access to all Windows apps via Citrix's client and server software

By the first half of 2009, Citrix will make its XenDesktop and XenApp client and server software for remote access to Windows applications available for the iPhone.

"We expect to have it sooner rather than later," said Chris Fleck, vice president of Solutions Development at Citrix .

Fleck said the company is addressing an "unbelievable market demand" for such a product. Requests have become the number-one topic of discussion on its blog site.

Citrix XenApp virtualizes an individual application, be it Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, Excel, or SAP, allowing users to run those applications on a client directly from a XenApp server hosted with a Windows application like SAP.

XenDesktop provides access to a centrally hosted desktop, in particular a user's desktop on a remote server.

"Your entire XP or Vista desktop and all your apps are available in that virtual desktop with all the inherent security and manageability that is currently available on remote desktops now," said Fleck.

Similar Citrix technology is available for Windows Mobile devices and devices running the Symbian operating system.

However, in the case of the iPhone, Citrix has tweaked the XenApp and XenDesktop technology so that it can leverage the unique features and capabilities of iPhone, such as touch gestures, pinch and pull, zoom, and pan.

"What it does makes applications that were designed for a full-screen desktop usable on small form factor," noted Fleck.

According to Fleck it will make available the entire world of a half-million Windows applications.

Citrix developers worked with Apple to design the iPhone version of the Xen App and Desktop in order to preserve as much of iPhone's unique capabilities as possible. For example, although an enterprise application remains unchanged, users accessing that application on the iPhone will be able to use iPhone's Accelerometer technology to change screen view from portrait to landscape to help provide visibility, usability, and navigability.

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InfoWorld has learned exclusively that Citrix is also addressing those unique applications that require special key entries and special function keys.

In health care for example, Citrix is working and meeting with hospital representatives and health care ISVs like McKesson that currently use Citrix for remote access to applications on thin clients and desktop appliances for the iPhone.

Later in the year, Citrix will also announce tools that will give developers the ability to take Microsoft Visual Basic and custom corporate applications written in Visual Studio and modify the screen resolution to fit natively on a small screen, be it the three-and-a-half-inch iPhone screen or screens on other handheld devices.

"You will be able to pick and choose the screens and the text and the buttons you are most likely use. So if you don't want to use pinching and panning, the beauty of that is you are keeping the same end back-end infrastructure and work across any mobile device," said Frick.