Upgrade and or migrate to XD7… What’s involved?!

Although Citrix has done an excellent job describing both the upgrade and migration process on their E-Docs website, I still feel it’s a subject that somehow needs to be part of my Blog series on XD7 as well. And since I did the same for the XenApp upgrade and migration tools out there it just wouldn’t be fair now would it?! Citrix already announced that, at the moment, there are no upgrade or migration paths available for existing XenApp customers. They are however working on a toolset, including a bunch of scripts, to assist customers in their migration from XenApp 6.5 to XenDesktop 7, which will be included in one of the future releases. Let’s get started, I’ll try and keep it short 🙂



I’ll use Citrix’s E-Docs website as a reference throughout this Blog summarizing the components and tools involved. Compared to previous versions XenDesktop 7 introduces a bunch of new features and concepts, make sure you spend some time getting to know them before starting the upgrade and or migration process. The new terminology used can be confusing especially for XenApp admins, have a look here: What’s new in XenDesktop 7 and here: Important information for XenApp administrators If you do have experience with earlier versions of XenDesktop this might be less of an issue, but it never hurts to have quick look anyway.

Upgrading to a XenDesktop 7 Site is only possible if you have a XenDesktop 5.x Site in place, in the case of a XenDesktop 4.x Farm you will need to use the migration tool to migrate your settings and data. Just know that there is a distinct difference between upgrading and migrating. Also, be aware that you can’t upgrade from the XenDesktop Express Edition, you will need to obtain and install a VDI, Enterprise or Platinum license first.

Multiple versions

If you would like to continue to use older deployments of XenApp and or XenDesktop, Citrix recommends to run them in parallel with XenDesktop 7. As per Citrix “For example, XenDesktop 7 Director requires a XenDesktop 7 Delivery Controller. Director 7 can monitor XenDesktop 5.x VDAs; however, some data, including logon duration, will not be available with the XenDesktop 5.x VDAs” To continue to monitor your XenApp 6.5 environment next to XenDesktop 7 use Director 2.1, just make sure it is installed separately from Director 7.

Upgrade Considerations

A few things to consider when planning your upgrade: The XenDesktop 4 migration tool cannot be used to export and or import XenDesktop 5 data, you must perform an in-place upgrade instead. When running XenDesktop 5 parallel to XenDesktop 7 you cannot manage XD5.x with XD7 Studio, also, XD7 Studio must be installed on a separate machine, you cannot run side-by-side Studio installations. Needles to say that you don’t upgrade an stand-alone Desktop Studio installation to XenDesktop/version 7 Studio if you are not planning on using XD7, it won’t work.

If your Site has only one Controller the Site will be unavailable during the upgrade process. With multiple controllers however, you can upgrade one or two to start with and your user will be able to continue to work. There might be a brief interruption when new client connections are established during the final database upgrade steps, also, capacity might be limited because fewer controller will be available during a short period of time. Another one to note: As per Citrix “You cannot upgrade Virtual Desktop Agents running on Windows XP or Windows Vista to version 7 Virtual Delivery Agents. You must upgrade these VDAs to the Windows XP or Windows Vista version provided by the installer, or upgrade them to Version 5.6 Feature Pack 1”.


When using PVS you should upgrade your PVS servers before upgrading your XD Site, see:Upgrading Provisioning Servers for more information on the PVS upgrade steps involved. Be aware that PVS 7 doesn’t support the creation of new desktops with XenDesktop 5.x, meaning that your existing desktops will continue to work but you cannot create new ones until you upgrade your controllers and database to XenDesktop 7.

Components to upgrade and sequence

The following components need to be upgraded: The license server and license files, VDA’s, Delivery Controller(s), Studio and or Director if installed separately from the controller, the database and optionally we have PVS, SCVMM and StoreFront. Citrix recommends doing this in the following order:

Upgrade Flowchart

A note on the above. I also mention PVS, SCVMM and StoreFront, these three need to be updated separately since they’re not part of the in-place upgrade process, let me explain. When running the XD7 installer the wizard checks whether certain Site components might need to, or can, be upgraded, hence the in-place upgrade, these components include: License servers, Delivery Controllers, Studio, Director, Desktop OS VDA’s and optionally Citrix Receiver. Finally you need to upgrade the database which you can do either automatically or manually, both options can be selected from Studio. This must be done from an XD7 Studio installation.

So you see that PVS, SCVMM and StoreFront are left out. This is also  partially true for Studio and or Director, when installed separately from the controller, on a management machine for example, they will need to be upgraded separately. If they are part of the controller installation the wizard will detect them automatically. For more details on ‘how to’ regarding the above see Upgrade Components

Don’t worry it isn’t that hard, just make sure you have local administrative privileges when logged on before running the installer (double-click AutoSelect) The wizard will automatically detect what components can or need to be upgraded and will display the ‘Upgrade options’ page from which you can then select the components you want to upgrade. You might need to run the installer a few times, but that’s basically it. Again, see the above page for more details on the ‘per component’ upgrade process.

Things to know

To start… it goes without saying that before you attempt to upgrade anything you first backup your Site database.


The following VDA’s can be upgraded to version 7: 5.0 Service Pack 1, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.6 Feature Pack 1 (including Remote Access PC’s)

A note from Citrix: Some XenDesktop 7 features are not supported on Windows XP or Windows Vista. If the installer detects a VDA running on a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine, it launches a different installer that updates to the latest VDA version that is supported on Windows XP or Windows Vista. Although these machines and their Machine Catalogs and Delivery Groups cannot use all XenDesktop 7 features, they can run in the XenDesktop 7 Site. You cannot upgrade Virtual Desktop Agents running on Windows XP or Windows Vista to version 7 Virtual Delivery Agents. You must upgrade these VDA’s to the Windows XP or Windows Vista version provided by the installer as mentioned above or upgrade them to Version 5.6 Feature Pack 1”.

The following features are not supported for VDA’s installed on Windows XP or Windows Vista, the same goes for VDA’s running Windows 7 with 5.6 Feature Pack 1: Configuration of App-V applications from Studio Configuration of Receiver Storefront addresses from StudioAutomatic support for Microsoft Windows KMS licensing when using Machine Creation Services (MCS). KMS licensing is supported using the procedure documented inhttp://support.citrix.com/article/CTX128580.

Full information in Director 7: Logon times and logon end events impacting the logon duration times in Dashboard, Trends, and User Detail views Logon duration breakdown details for HDX connection time, authentication time, profile load duration, GPO load duration, logon script duration, and interactive session establishment duration Some categories of Machine and Connection failures states # Activity Manager in Help Desk and User Details views.


The following Controller versions can be directly upgraded to XenDesktop 7: 5.0, 5.0 Feature Pack 1, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.6 Feature Pack 1.


The following Director versions can be directly upgraded to version 7: 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 and 2.1.

Other components

The installer also upgrades the following components:

  • Personal vDisk (PVD).
  • Receiver – Note the following about Receiver upgrades: If Receiver for Windows (Receiver.exe) resides on a machine, it is upgraded to Receiver for Windows 4.0If Receiver for Windows Enterprise (CitrixReceiverEnterprise.exe) resides on a machine, it is upgraded to Receiver for Windows Enterprise 3.4.
  • After upgrading all components, you can optionally use Studio to upgrade Machine Catalogs and Delivery Groups that included machines running earlier VDA versions or Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. For detailed information, seeUpgrade a machine catalog and Upgrade a Delivery Group.


If you have a XenDesktop 4.x Farm and want to upgrade / migrate to XenDesktop 7 you must use the migration tool, there’s no in-place upgrade possibility. The tool consists of:

  • The Export Tool, XdExport, to export XenDesktop 4 farm data.
  • An XML editor to review and edit the XML file, named  XdSettings.xml.
  • The Import Tool, XdImport, that imports the data to an XenDesktop 7 Site by running the PowerShell script Import-XdSettings.ps1.

For a successful migration both environments must be running the same Hypervisor version and Active Directory environment. Before taking off make sure you have a look atXenDesktop 4 data import and export details so you understand which type of data and settings can be exported and imported. Note that under ‘Migration limitations’ it states that some items can not be migrated because they are exported but can not be imported… what’s that about? Never the less it gives you a good idea on what happens with the exported XD4 data when you import it into your XD7 deployment, which is always nice 🙂 It will also tell you to first backup your Site database before anything else, but we already knew that right?!

Some more prerequisites

To start, you need to set up and configure a XenDesktop 7 Site including a central database. Secondly all XenDesktop 4 VDA’s need to be at XenDesktop 5.x level so that they are compatible with both XD4 and XD7 Delivery Controllers. Once the whole infrastructure is running XD7 the Windows 7 VDA’s can be upgraded to version 7. Remember that Windows 8 isn’t supported on XD4 and the VDA’s on XP and or Vista can’t be upgraded to version 7 as discussed earlier.

Helicopter view

Migrate XD4 Overview

First you’ll need to put all the machines you want to migrate (from XD4) into maintenance mode. Next, use the Export tool (XdExport) to export all settings and data to an XML file which you can then edit using the XML editor (XdSettings.xml) so it only contains the data and settings you want to import into your XD7 Site. finally you import all data using the import tool (XdImport).

I’m not going into to much detail regarding the ex and import process or associated tooling. As far as exporting goes have a look here: Export from a XenDesktop 4 farm It’s a command-line tool, not my favourite 🙂 the same goes for the XML editor, see: Edit the Migration Tool XML file. And why should the import tool be any different: Import data into an XenDesktop 7 Site To help you on your way Citrix offers some sample migration scenarios, you’ll find them here: XenDesktop 4 migration examples. All these articles will lead you back to the Citrix E-Docs website.

Post migration tasks

Once you have successfully imported your XD4 settings and data, Citrix recommends to first upgrade the machines’ VDA’s before upgrading your controllers, Studio and Director. Here are some more post tasks to think about:

Create Administrator accounts, configure delegated administration.

Update user devices, Citrix Receiver.

Manually enable registry based controller discovery and point them to the XD7 controller or set up a machine policy to distribute a list of controllers, this can not be configured from Studio, you’ll need to use GPO.

Have a look at some of these best practices: CTX133384 it’s about registry based DDC registration.

Remove the machines from maintenance mode it they were in maintenance mode before the XML file was generated.

Again review the XenDesktop 4 data import and export details document to make sure your migration was successful.

Not migrated

Unfortunately XD7 doesn’t support al of XD4’s components, have a look at the table below:

Overview Not Migrated


Make sure you give the Citrix E-Docs page a good read through before you start. Personally I don’t have a 4.x or 5.x Farm or Site available to migrate, in fact my home lab is a mess at the moment to be honest, but in theory it doesn’t sound that complicated if you know what you are doing, the migration part might be a bit tricky, but still doable. As always, the ‘real deal’ will probably present you with an issue or two to overcome, but nothing we can’t handle I’m sure 🙂 Good luck and have fun!

Bas van Kaam ©

Reference materials used: Citrix.com and the E-Docs website.



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