Difference Between Microsoft RDS and Citrix

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Citrix are two popular options for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Both are cloud-based services that allow access to application resources from any device remotely.

These products deliver secure and robust desktop computing to employees while on the road, at home, or in remote offices.

Microsoft RDS VS Citrix

The main difference between Microsoft RDS and Citrix is that Microsoft RDS is developed by Microsoft, it delivers virtual desktops over their infrastructure that works like a service provider where Citrix is developed by Citrix Systems that delivers Windows apps and desktops over the internet via hosted applications and virtual apps.

Microsoft RDS VS Citrix

Microsoft RDS stands for Remote Desktop Services. RDS helps IT administrators and users access applications, desktops, and data on their local servers from anywhere. It helps in providing centralized access to applications and data from any device.

With Microsoft RDS, companies can save money on hardware and reduce capital expenditure.

Citrix is a cloud services provider providing full-stack solutions for the web, mobile data centers, and app delivery. The company is also a platform provider for mobile application development on the Cloud Platform System.

Citrix systems deliver virtualized and cloud-enabled applications with only a browser and an Internet connection. It improves responsiveness and agility, reduces risk, and optimizes resources.

Comparison Table Between Microsoft RDS and Citrix

Parameters of ComparisonMicrosoft RDSCitrix
HostingMicrosoft offers a turnkey service called Azure RemoteAppCitrix offers XenApp that work on mobile devices.
UsabilityRDS provides a system for remote delivery and connection management.Citrix provides virtualization of applications, desktops, and data.
Operating System SupportRDS is more focused on Windows support.Citrix supports multiple operating systems.
AccessibilityAccessible to run multiple remote desktop sessions from one server.It is an application delivery software that allows access to applications on a central server.
Server UsedMicrosoft RDS uses Server 2008 or 2012 as the host OS.Citrix uses Windows Server 2008 SP2 or later.

What is Microsoft RDS?

The Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a server that is responsible for handling Windows Server Remote Desktop Services for users. The Microsoft company released this server in the year 2005.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is Microsoft’s virtual desktop infrastructure and components in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.

This new approach to delivering applications and services is included in the Microsoft System Center suite of products.

The RDS role enables an administrator to set up user accounts, the environment in which users connect to the server, and how users interact with their desktops.

It also allows for storage, networking, virtual machines, etc., to be centralized and managed centrally by an administrator. Microsoft RDS is a highly scalable cloud offering that gives physical SQL Server machine instances access to the cloud.

They are available on several different virtualization platforms, including Windows Server and Linux, making them a secure option. RDS can be used to access both Microsoft and non-Microsoft data, applications, and devices anywhere they are needed from any device supporting RDP connectivity.

Customers can access their Windows Server 2003 and Windows 10 desktops using Microsoft RDS. Essentially, these servers create servers that can be controlled from anywhere remotely.

What is Citrix?

Citrix is a software company that has developed and launched a variety of different software programs.

Citrix is a desktop virtualization solution that allows users to access their data and applications remotely by using client computers. It does this by using Xen Desktop technology.

This technology allows for on-demand access to applications and data from anywhere at any time.

It is an application delivery system developed by Citrix Systems that functions as an alternative to Microsoft Web Application Server.

Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are a pair of complementary products that help organisations deliver Windows applications to mobile users and improve the performance of VDI environments.

The two solutions can work independently or together to simplify application delivery in an environment.

It is often used with their proxying and serving technology called Internet Desktop Manager, which allows the management of applications and delivery of users’ desktops to mobile devices.

The main platforms for Citrix are Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

However, it only works through an application on the user’s end, which must be installed on every device that wants to connect.

Citrix XenApp Essentials is a free application that allows you to turn all existing Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 desktop operating systems, apps, and data into virtual applications.

Main Differences Between Microsoft RDS and Citrix

  1. Citrix offers a single platform for all of its hosted solutions, while Microsoft offers different tools depending on what you want to do with your desktops.
  2. Citrix requires more work to implement than RDS and has fewer features, but can be scaled more easily.
  3. Microsoft RDS is an inbuilt Windows Server operating system service, whereas Citrix is third-party software for accessing and managing remotely.
  4. Microsoft RDS gives more control by creating multiple desktops on a single server, while Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure offers remote access to applications, data, and devices.
  5. A user can also access their apps and desktops from any device with an internet connection using Citrix Workspace. With Microsoft RDS, this is not possible as only one device can connect per user.


The Microsoft RDS is a desktop that is fully functional and runs over the local area network (LAN). It doesn’t require any kind of installation or extra settings.

The user can easily access the applications and the data present on the RDS server through the RemoteApp applications.

Citrix enables its users to run their applications in a virtualized desktop environment.

It also delivers different support while sharing files as well as printing between systems in the Windows Terminal Services domain and Citrix XenApp-hosted remote sessions.

For small to medium businesses, Microsoft RDS is a good choice. It is more cost-effective and more reliable than Citrix. However, if you have a large corporate structure, Microsoft RDS won’t be able to meet all your requirements.

If you have high-end applications that require a heavy amount of GPU, then you should go for Citrix as it can meet your requirements. It also has more security features.


  1. https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8Z329VF
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0142061506000457
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