Repurposing Windows machines as thin clients isn't the only way that Microsoft customers can go the thin-client route. They also can use dedicated thin clients running the newly released Windows Embedded Standard 7 Service Pack (SP) 1 to do the same.
Microsoft delivered for download on March 8 the evaluation version of Windows Embedded Standard 7 SP1 -- one of a handful of different embedded operating system SKUs from the company. Embedded Standard 7 SP1 adds support for RemoteFX to the operating system, among other features. Microsoft positions both Windows Embedded Standard and Windows Embedded Compact as thin-client operating systems.
RemoteFX is key to Microsoft's latest thin-client push for Windows. Part of SP1 of Windows Server 2008 R2, RemoteFX is designed to allow users to work remotely in a Windows Aero desktop environment, doing everything from watching full-motion videos, to viewing Silverlight animations, to running 3D applications “all with the fidelity of a local-like performance,” Microsoft execs have said.
Microsoft is readying a public beta of Windows Thin PC (WinTPC), the successor to its Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP) SKU. (I'm thinking that beta could hit tomorrow, as Microsoft is holding a customer roundtable about the product on March 10.) The remote desktop client in WinTPC will be able to decode RemoteFX data.
WinTPC is available to Microsoft Software Assurance customers as part of their licenses. Customers who don't have Software Assurance also can buy a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license for each device to get access to WinTPC, officials said this week.
Microsoft is touting WinTPC as a way for users to tighten their IT budget belts. From a "Windows for Your Business" blog post on March 7:
"Although traditional thin clients reduce management and operational costs, they are not free since there is an upfront acquisition cost. Depending on the device and the capability, a thin client could cost as much as a low end PC. Many of you told us that budgets for buying new devices have been reduced, and that you prefer allocating funds towards devices that offer more functionality and flexibility, such as new Windows 7 PCs, tablets, or slates. Additionally, all traditional thin clients and zero clients require VDA licensing for VDI."
Microsoft is promising more specifics on WinTPC and the company's desktop virtualization strategy starting at 9 am PT on March 10 during its "Desktop Virtualization Customer Roundtable" Webcast.