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Despite speculation that Microsoft Corp. would abandon Citrix Systems Inc.—the company that created MetaFrame and WinFrame, the predecessor to Microsoft’s Terminal Server—and build its own terminal services in the next version of Windows Server, aka “Longhorn,” Microsoft and Citrix recently reached an agreement to collaborate and cross-license Terminal Server and Windows.

Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company’s flagship program, enables companies to run remote Windows applications and the Windows desktop as a server-based application or in a thin-client mode.

The new five-year deal gives Citrix continued access to Microsoft’s Windows Server code and provides for patent cross-licensing between the two companies.

“I’m not surprised; it’s something I expected to occur,” said Barry Risberg, vice president of sales for Capital Network Solutions Inc., a Citrix platinum partner and a Microsoft gold partner in Sacramento, Calif.

“I’m happy it’s five years and not just three. The fact that Citrix and Microsoft are playing nice adds value to both of their organizations,” Risberg said.

The agreement will make it easier for Citrix to further develop the MetaFrame Access Suite, which runs on Microsoft Windows Terminal Server, and ease user migration to MetaFrame Presentation Server on Windows Server Longhorn when it is released in 2007.

“This is an exciting agreement that will help us better serve our customers’ access needs through the next generation of Microsoft’s Windows Server operating system,” said Mark Templeton, Citrix’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Citrix has also agreed to ready MetaFrame updates for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and the Windows Server 2003 R2 upgrade in 2005, as it will be upgrading MetaFrame to version 4.0 in the new year.

Citrix is also providing add-ons for Terminal Server, such as Secure ICA Services. This service provides a 128-bit, end-to-end encryption add-on that makes remote access via Terminal Server more secure.

“They’ve had the agreement where they would kind of share code; this agreement helps customers see that Citrix will continue to innovate the MetaFrame platform and continue to support MetaFrame throughout the release of Longhorn.” said Tom Rash, president of Northwest Computer Support Inc. (NWCS), a gold-level Citrix partner headquartered in Tukwila, Wash.

“We like it because Citrix continues to add value to Terminal Server,” Rash continued. “As Microsoft continues to add value to Terminal Server, the only way Citrix could be in trouble is if they sat on their hands and failed to innovate in future products. We feel like the Citrix Access Suite adds a bunch of value beyond Terminal server.”

Arman Eghbali, general manager of PWT IT Solutions Inc., parent company to Monterey Information Technologies of Monterey, Calif., a Microsoft Solutions provider and Citrix Gold partner, said: “Citrix has strong technology with Terminal Services, and Microsoft is the leader when it comes to servers and desktop operating systems. Both of them earned respect in the technical community.

“In my opinion, the partnership will essentially help the end users. So many companies are in competition with each other and sometimes it has a negative impact on the industry. They don’t help each other out and they don’t help the end user, and everybody is struggling. When they form a partnership or alliance, it helps the companies and the end users,” Eghbali said.

Sources close to Citrix also said that Citrix would not be releasing a Linux version of MetaFrame. Citrix had never firmly said before that it would not create a Linux edition.

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