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Last week Microsoft announced something called Windows MultiPoint Server 2010, a technology for classrooms that lets up to ten students use individual terminals to share the resources of one single host computer. In technical terms you could think of this as Terminal Server meets the ease of user wizardry of Small Business Server with a dash of custom software for teachers and students.
The idea is Microsoft makes the MultiPoint OS and partners will make the hardware bundles which is how it will be sold. HP was the first partner to announce products, with the HP MultiSeat being some new custom thin client terminals which connect to desktop-class HP 6000 series host. These thin clients are actually new products, the HP t100 series, and they connect to the host PC via USB!
If this whole "multiple clients sharing a single cheap desktop-class machine" thing sounds familiar, it's because it is: NComputing has been doing this for years. They wrote their own multi-user stack for Windows Server which also lets multiple users share a single host. (They have direct-connect clients and IP-based clients.) All you need to use it is that NComputing kit (hardware plus software) plus a $500 Windows Server license for your shared host and a TS CAL for each station.
The people I've talked to at Microsoft always liked NComputing, because hey, if they were going to sell TS CALs, then great! But this MultiPoint clearly shows that Microsoft wants to get into that space. And the MultiPoint marketing material contains some aggressive text, like "Experience peace of mind that support can be obtained through Microsoft’s authorized partners or directly from Microsoft." Ouch!
NComputing has been on fire recently, having recently shipped their two-millionth(!) thin client. It's funny that if you consider what they're doing to be "VDI" (which I do), then they actually have more deployed seats than Citrix and VMware combined! Maybe that's why Microsoft wants to copy them. :)
The Microsoft MultiPoint 2010 product is definitely based on Terminal Server, as evidenced by the answers to the last question in the FAQ about the product.
So what do you think? Do you like the super-cheap, PC-based, 10-to-1, TS-in-a-dummy-box offering? Do you think it will help our cause? Can you see this used your own environment? (There will be academic and non-academic packages available.)
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