Does anyone plan on using Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) thin clients?

Now that the upgrade to Windows XP Embedded has been released (as Windows Embedded Standard 7) a few months ago, is anyone really excited about or planning to use it? I know this is the latest extension to the age-old battle between "rich" thin clients, "thin" thin clients, zero clients, and cheap PCs running real Windows.

Now that the upgrade to Windows XP Embedded has been released (as Windows Embedded Standard 7) a few months ago, is anyone really excited about or planning to use it? I know this is the latest extension to the age-old battle between "rich" thin clients, "thin" thin clients, zero clients, and cheap PCs running real Windows. In terms of embedded Windows, WES7 is pretty good I guess: Media Player 12, RDP 7, IE8, Silverlight, Aero with multimonitor, IPv6, group policy & domain control, etc. And in theory any application that runs on Windows 7 should run on WES7, so it can use it for those few apps that aren't really compatible with remotely-delivered desktops. (Too bad Citrix, VMware, or Quest don't have reverse seamless.)

It seems that Windows XP Embedded had a decent uptake overall, but back when that came out we only really had Linux Thin Clients, custom OS thin clients, or full PCs as other options. But now we have zero clients (in many flavors) and of course the ability to stream the "real" Windows 7 to thin clients or full PCs, so I wonder, what's the uptake for WES7 going to be? Are you planning on using it?

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For the purposes of access to virtual hosted windows desktops; Why would you want to manage 2 windows OS per user?  It is my understanding that these do not qualify as an OEM “SA-able” OS, so you’ll have to “rent” VDA as well.  I’m sure there are some use cases.


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Short answer for us: no.  We're using Quest vWorkspace 7.1 & Parallels PVC 4.5.


Since the remote-desktop-delivery vendors should support the concept of 'connecting from anywhere & anything', why incur the licensing cost of XPe or WES7?  The alternatives are so much less expensive per device since a WES7 license adds about $90/unit according to the thin client vendors I spoke with.


We built our own thin clients using more powerful hardware at nearly half the cost of the proprietary hardware vendors.  


Rodd Ahrenstorff


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While our thin client team is still assessing how they will use Win7 Embedded, I've been running it for a couple of months and love it.  The install is pretty straightforward though you need a MINIMUM of 1.5GB space available.  For the existing armies of 1GB thin clients, Win7 is just not an option (believe me I tried).


Questions of maintenance and support aside, the actual user experience of this embedded OS is excellent.  IE8 launches faster than on a desktop and the bootup time is quite short.  We've successfully deployed Win7e to old devices like an R52 laptop and been amazed at the performance of our new/old thin client.


 We also begun creating VM images with this OS for testing purposes.  A super small and efficient throw away desktop environment is very handy for testing.


 Will this OS one day live on 1000's of thin clients in the field?  Not if we can help it.  Maintaining client OS's is something we're trying to get away from.


 Is Win7e a quick and trim alternative to a full sized OS?  Most definitely.


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I look foward to Win7e.  The maxium features of both RDP and ICA are enabled in Windows (not CE).  I can also install peripherial devices and hardware permitting I can also take advantage of HD video playback.  


I can also use them not as a thin client but as a nettop thanks to adavanced from VIA and Intel. I have some uses as a web terminal to look up items on a library catalog or as a station that only has one use like a check out station and save on licensing costs for VDI or TS.


If you are buying a large batch you can netgotiate with the vender to push the purchase price down. We did and got a nice price comparible to a WinCE/Linux thin client.


Rodd.  Where did you go to get your custom TC parts?


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I actually was on the Windows Embedded program. Played a little with the CTP back some time – problem was that I never quite knew what to do with the platform, really. Yes its componentized way better than the old XPe was, still it’s bloated within hundreds or thousands megabytes.  For whatever it is, it’s not MinWin you know….


Now, for the question of the “thin” clients;  RemoteFX, PCoIP. HDX and such I guess the Kevin Costner movie line “build it and they will come” will be some sort of reality in the Desktop virtualization space.


Nonetheless the question remains: Will it ever be anything else but yet another bloated piece that needs as much management as your everyday PC? I think not.


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I don't see any compelling reason to do so.  Unless Microsoft makes Win7 embedded qualify under the SA agreement (ie...removing VDA license requirement), why would any admin pay that premium?  That's stupid.


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@vPatrickB hit the nail on the head. This needs to be made part of SA. Just like WinFLP is part of SA today. For VDI having a Windows client makes a ton of sense for may use cases when you simply can't remote an application for one reason or the other. And yes Reverse Seamless can help you take advantage of that. Reverse Seamless needs to become a protocol feature.......


Sure there are use cases where a true thin client is all you need, and that is fine by me, but respect to management, there is overhead on all endpoints. Linux endpoints also need updates, and there is no reason why a simple Windows client build can be designed to be easily maintained and autoupdated for patches. Also for the desktop virtualization world clients as they stand today just work better with Windows clients. A Windows endpoint gives you the richest remote experience (how bizarre). I doubt we will ever see true features parity between vendor clients, so it's a bet one has to make regarding the quality and flexibility of user experience.


In addition, a simple Windows client also let's you choose commodity hardware and avoid lock-in to vendor A/B.


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I'm with agreement with @Kimmo Windows Embedded is too bloated to be a thin client OS.  The VDA licensing thing certainly doesn't help either.


I was a part of the CTP for WE7 also so I'v been rocking it for several months now as my primary Windows 7 host running within Fusion on my Mac.  I really love it for this purpose because it gives me just what I need and not anymore.  It's also the smallest install base of Windows 7 that I know of so that leads to fast bootups and a smaller VM footprint. Its just too bad that Microsoft doesn't license the OS to be used for this purpose. It's not included as part of the Technet subscription, so it looks like in the end I'll have just reload the OS every so often to extend past the trial window.


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@Craig/Kimmo


Anything other than WE7 is too thin and dumb, and will certainly curb any hint of chance for VDI to succeed. Having Windows on the client end goes a long way towards ensuring a great user experience and superior peripheral support.


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@Edgeseeker


I disagree.  There are plenty of examples, but the one that quickly popped in my head is the Wyse Xenith.  $300 bucks for a thin client that supports HDX, PCOIP, and pick your poison of operating system.


Even Brian bragged about the capabilities: www.brianmadden.com/.../technical-analysis-of-the-wyse-zero-platform-and-wyse-xenith-hdx-zero-client.aspx


Deploying a WE7 device is a bad idea.  You will still have to pay a VDA license, and you will still have to put patches on it, antivirus monitoring agents on it, reimage it (it's windows after all).  Not really much of a Cap-Ex/Op-Ex savings when you add those costs plus the cost to manage a virtual desktop on the backend.  


"I wish I had four hands so I could give this four thumbs down."  


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I wonder if and when Microsoft will waiver the VDA toll for their SA customers? Anybody been in discussion with their MS contact on this?


@Brian can you look into this?


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@vPatrickB


I disagree. Although Wyse has a compelling product offering, there's really no substitute for a Windows-based client when it comes to accessing a server-based Windows environment.  I'd rather have a familiar Windows-based client as opposed to a proprietary vendor OS. At least with Windows, I can install a device driver if need be, not to mention I stand a much better chance of running in hybrid mode , should this option become necessary.  


Even graphics performance is superior with Windows clients because it's much easier to remote graphics commands from a server-based Windows environment to a Windows endpoint.  And we all know that graphics command remoting, as opposed to screen scraping, yields much better performance where and when applicable.  And this applies to many graphics interfaces used by Windows.


Also, a Windows-based client opens a lot more doors for me, giving me the choice of any back-end VDI broker platform. Wyse has been known to suck up to the big boys like Citrix and VMware.  Therefore, you sadly find them time and again offering full support for View and XD, even though other VDI broker vendors have much more robust and complete product offerings.  


Despite VDA and other toll-booth-like practices from the company that never seems to disappoint when it comes to fleecing us of our IT budgets, I'd rather go with the Windows-based thin client and install the Windows-based software client from the VDI vendor of MY choice, not the one(s) that Wyse "conveniently" favors over others.


You can either exercise your freedom of choice, or be at the mercy of Wyse whose survival hinges on Citrix's and VMware's approval.


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