Microsoft aims thin clients at the classroom
Windows Terminal Services reborn
Updated With today's talk of application and desktop virtualization, it's easy to forget there's another, older way to deliver software in a controlled way to resource-constrained PCs: thin-clients.
You remember thin client computing: Citirx, Microsoft's Citrix-backed Windows Terminal Services, Sun Microsystems' Sun Ray, and Tarantella, which was bought and filed away by Sun.
Microsoft has now repackaged Windows Terminal Services (WTS), offering students a thin-client platform that uses Windows Server 2008 R2. Dubbed Windows MultiPoint Server 2010, it was released on Wednesday.
Announced last year, the system connects up to 10 PCs to a host machine running Windows MultiPoint Server via Remote Desktop Services (the new name for WTS). This is what a Microsoft spokesperson called its "flagship" product in the MultiPoint brand, that includes MultiPoint Mouse SDK and Mouse Mischief.
The server is only available via OEMs, here, or under Microsoft's Academic Volume Licensing program.
Microsoft said the server was delivered in response to request from teachers and institutions to "bring more modern computing access to education institutions with constrained budgets."
Microsoft has done plenty in recent years to make Windows available to students and institutions in developed and emerging markets at prices that are lower compared to what it charges regular consumers or businesses. Recently, for example, students were offered deep discounts on Windows 7.
But MultiPoint comes with a restricted computing experience. You won't get Windows 7 tools such as Aero, Windows Flip, Task Bar Previews, or Windows Media Center.
Microsoft will go some way to helping students and teachers from both a fiscal and set-up perspective while also helping itself to a future generation of computer users. However, the offer of a limited Windows computing experience also leaves the way open for Apple and Linux on the desktop to provide systems that don't set restrictions on what young users can experience and achieve. ®
This article as been updated to clarify MultiPoint Server is available either from OEMs or under Microsoft's Academic Volume Licensing, and that MultiPoint Server joins other MultiPoint products from Microsoft.
Linux terminal Server Project anyone???
LTSP has been around for years and has just as long a track record in classroom thin clients. No limit on connections (apart from your hardware); volumes of documentation and real life examples. It's free as well - no licensing costs - still have to have sysadmins though(as will the MS Terminal Services) but many teachers seem to be able to install & manage it.
Even I run it at home (excellant indestuctible internet access for my 'youf' who insists on running XP Home c/w malware and virii) as part of my 'distributed desktop/diskless client' round the house (yes, it's in the basement with the file/media server)
Been to a school with one of those
They had Windows 98 clients acting as terminals to a Windows 2000 server. When I left, they had Linux clients as terminals to that same Windows 2000 server. :)
Restricted to 10 computers? No pretty screen effects or Windows Media Center.?
Sounds like a very poor imitation of Linux Server Terminal Project (LSTP 5.2).
This might be kinda useful, if they were to lift the 10 client limit.
LSTP is good if you have a knowledgeable sysadmin to take care of it (and be a Linux cheerleader, train staff, not be put off by people decrying it, etc). Knowledgeable sysadmins are hard to come by - especially around LEAs with entrenched MS-itis ... there are schools who still buy PCs from RM *shudder*
As for Mighty Mouse, all the teachers I work with are more than happy with Smartboard's Notebook software and don't want to learn another new program. For many, changing the order of icons on the desktop is confusing ...
Restricted to x computers
If they are targeting the classroom where there is a maximum class size of 10 pupils then they are living on another planet. They should try "restricted to 50 computers" and it might be suitable for one per classroom with a bit of slack.
What is the restriction on LTSP? Oh yes, it is only restricted by the capability of the hardware.