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Access Gateway 8.1 Now Available

Citrix has released an update to Access Gateway Enterprise Edition. It has some great new features like clientless access to web sites, file type association and better usability. The clientless access technology is the same URL rewriting engine used by the Application Firewall and it is screaming fast! We also spent a lot of time working on improving the documentation and adding wizards in the admin UI to make setup a little easier. You can get the new Admin Guide and other documents here:

Access Gateway Enterprise Edition 8.1 Documents

There are a few minor gotchas to watch out for with this release:

Support for Windows Vista

Version 8.1 (finally) supports Windows Vista for endpoint analysis and full network-layer access. In version 8.0 we only had beta-level Vista support. But there are two limitations in 8.1:

1. The IE Active Plugin does not work on Vista, you have to deploy the full client.
2. Only 32-bit Vista is supported.

Clientless access to web sites and file shares

This is a highly demanded feature and for a first release it works great. There may be some web apps, especially those that make heavy use of AJAX or complex client-side Javascript to calclate URLs, that don't work through the clientless access. In this mode of access, as the web traffic passes through the Access Gateway, the gateway rewrites all the HTML so that any internal links or URLs use the Access Gateway address instead. This search-and-replace process occasionally misses links if they are constructed by a programming language instead of normal HTML. Outlook Web Access 2003 and 2007 work fine, and a lot of effort went into correcting the rewrite misses. SharePoint sites still see a few glitches in this version when going clientless.

Web Interface Integration

You can now simply point the Access Gateway to a Web Interface site URL and it will automatically display in the Access Gateway's default home page. When you hear "Web Interface Integration" it's easy to conclude that Web Interface is running *on* the Access Gateway appliance, but that's not the case here.

The user interface is more or less the same, except the old "dog bone" desktop icon is now a nice blue padlock circle matching the theme of all the other Citrix products.

One thing that always bugged me about the 8.0 client was that when you launched it, all it did was add an icon to the system tray. Then you had to go and right-click the icon to log on. Not good for all those users who haven't discovered their right mouse button yet. In 8.1, the client loads *AND* the logon page appears. And in 8.0 if you were already connected and you double-clicked the icon, you basically got yelled at with "another instance is already running!" In 8.1, if you launch the desktop icon while you are already connected, it politely asks if you want to log off.

If there are any AG-E customers out there reading this, please let me know what you think of version 8.1.

Jay

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