Windows Thin PC Released to the Public

The thin-client version of Windows 7-and-a-half (‘not-quite-Windows-8’, it has ‘Windows Embedded’ plastered all over it…) is available for download from the Microsoft Connect site.

Microsoft has made available the Windows Thin PC CTP (Community Technology Preview). As a preview, the CTP is open to ‘public’ Beta test until October 2011, at which point it becomes a licensed product available only to ‘Software Assurance’ volume customers, at whom it is precisely aimed…

The thin client computer has a various times been touted as the future of end-user computing. Not exactly a dumb terminal, thin clients are typically modest or low-spec hardware, capable of local processing but with little or no local storage (disk) and few locally-installed applications. Now that cloud computing is all the rage, the thin-client is back in fashion and Microsoft wants a slice of the action.

Windows Thin PC is wrapped in the usual marketing speak for features such as RemoteFX support for a “richer, higher fidelity hosted desktop experience.”

The benefits to harassed IT support departments include consistent, low-spec, low-maintenance units almost in a kiosk configuration; locked down under the MS-System Center Configuration Manager, the CTP build also includes a write filter, limiting the user from writing to the hard drive. In the world of thin clients this enables much higher security, not only in terms of littering the unit with dirty data files, but also in tampering with the local Windows install.

One benefit, according to the official Microsoft page, is that Windows Thin PC allows “customers to re-purpose existing PCs as thin clients by providing a smaller footprint; a locked down version of Windows 7.” So you can recycle your own hardware instead of purchasing more kit and buy some Thin PC licenses instead. On the basis that your tech’ support team can remotely deploy and refresh standardised Thin PC ghost images, you might well save time, money and effort overall, just as long as you have the IT infrastructure and application servers to support a pool of thin PC clients.

More to come on MS Thin PC as soon as we’ve got it installed. AJS

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