Microsoft preparing Windows XP-based thin clients
It wants to offer a lower-cost OS alternative for server-centric computing
IDG News Service - Microsoft Corp. is working on two thin-client versions of Windows XP to offer a lower-cost operating system alternative for users of server-centric computing, people familiar with the company's plans said.
The Windows XP-based thin clients will cost less than Windows XP Professional Edition but will offer the same management features and availability of a broad array of hardware drivers. The operating systems are being designed to run on low-end PCs that could be used for simple tasks such as data entry and as a way to access server-based applications, these people said.
Microsoft is developing the two releases under the "Eiger" and "Monch" code names, after two mountains in the Swiss Alps, said Microsoft enthusiast Steven Bink, who publishes the Bink.nu Microsoft news Web site and runs IT Solutions BV, an IT consultancy in Amsterdam.
Microsoft told select partners about its thin-client plans in January, said Brian Madden, a Washington-based independent technology analyst and author of several books on thin-client computing.
"The motivation for Microsoft is to get a true managed Windows platform on as many desktops as they can. Once they realized that this thin-client model is here to stay, they figured they might as well make an offering that can support SMS, WSUS, etc. to encourage as many people as possible to use these products," Madden said via e-mail.
Systems Management Server (SMS) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) are Microsoft systems management and patching products.
With the thin clients, Microsoft would be competing with open-source products and potentially with partners such as Wyse Technology Inc. and Neoware Systems Inc., which sell thin clients based on XP Embedded and Windows CE.
Neoware, however, doesn't see Microsoft's move as increased competition, said spokeswoman Sharon O'Shea. "A thin-client version of Windows XP would be a natural product for Microsoft, given the growth of the thin-client market," she said in an e-mail message.
"A thin-client version of Windows XP would not be competitive with Neoware's products. In fact, we would likely benefit from its development as we could bundle it with our thin-client devices," O'Shea said, noting that Microsoft has created thin-client products in the past, including a thin-client version of Windows CE.
Madden said he believes the thin-client versions of Windows XP will likely be easier to use and less expensive than Windows XP Embedded. Essentially, the operating system releases will let users convert an old PC into a Windows manageable thin-client device, Madden said.
A thin client typically is a slim terminal computer that has little or no software installed and instead runs applications off of a central server,
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