Last week there was a blog post and interesting discussion on the use cases for Windows Embedded Standard 7 thin clients (WES7). Outside of the usual "thin client vs. other options," a key issue is the fact that Microsoft wants you to pay for the WES7 privilege. It's important to educate the community that this is complete BS and that we need to do something about it as opposed to rolling over and letting this sleep while the monopoly forces more cost down our throats.
It's a really bad idea to just pay Microsoft for the privilege of using WES7. If you want to do this, you need to refuse and stop letting them push you around. If you're naive enough to lock into Microsoft with Hyper-V for RemoteFX, Systems Center for management, MDOP for App-V, and SA, then it's time for a wake up call to understand that when dealing with Microsoft you always need leverage or they will screw you.
In today's world of Windows XP, WinFLP (Windows Fundamentals) is given to SA customers for no cost. WinFLP is essentially a stripped down version of XP that you can deploy on commodity hardware to get the advantages of a slimmer Windows build with the flexibility of local execution as needed for your desktop environment. This is great if you don't want to buy new client hardware for your desktop virtualization project since you can redeploy your existing PC fleet with a thinned-down XP build to build a better ROI story. But with Windows 7, Microsoft has not provided clear direction on what their new WinFLP-like solution will be. Their answer of WES7 helps, but unfortunately they want to charge for it! So what can you do about it?
The answer back to Microsoft is very simple: F*** you! Tell them the value of SA has been diluted and that you're not interested in signing up for it again. Even if that's a few years away for you, tell them now that you're not interested in upgrading to Windows 7 until WES7 is given to you as part of SA just like WinFLP is today. They REALLY care about Windows 7 adoption now so now's the time to put the brakes on it. While you're at it, tell them that MDOP is not something you want or are willing to pay for unless they make it part of your SA agreement with VECD. Then tell them you won't pay for that either until a user-based VECD license is made available. To help yourself with this, avoid App-V or don't fully deploy it, let them know all the gaps with App-V and point out how slow their products innovate.
That's a direct challenge to the value of SA and MDOP, two things they really care about. Refuse to use MDOP, let Microsoft know that it's garbage, remind them that App-V doesn't work with IE 6, and now you have several more reasons not to go to Windows 7/SA/MDOP/VECD.
Maybe you can use this momentum to get off Systems Center as much as you can now too. If you already have it, relegate it to simple functions like inventory (which is what I bet most people use it for historically due to SMS) and some software distribution. Try to introduce other products and create even more leverage here if you can. If that's not a current option, review your whole management strategy as part of your future Windows 7 plans and actively look to get off Systems Center later.
And don't forget about RemoteFX. You should also refuse to entertain that since it will lock you into Hyper-V (another thing they really care about). Let Microsoft know that RemoteFX doesn't offer enough value on it's own and that you need them to explain to you why it's a good idea for them to marry Hyper-V with RemoteFX.
While you're thinking about your Microsoft value, you should under no circumstance use the MS VDI solution. A HUGE benefit of desktop virtualization solutions is that they allow you to use other platforms. With mobility becoming a greater part of the ecosystem, Microsoft will simply not move to embrace non-Windows options, so stay away. It also makes no sense to let Microsoft lock you into Windows/Hyper-V (and charge for it) and then try to charge you again for all the management tools to make it work! These are all increasingly commodity items, and Microsoft has to include or add a lot more value to justify their current business model.
But I digress. Back to WES7...
Deploying WES7 is a great option as opposed to a true thin or zero client. It's a myth to claim that WES7 is terribly difficult to manage if you design a slim build and simply point it to your existing WSUS infrastructure (or the public SUS servers). If you avoid putting other software on it, your attack surface stays small. WES7 is also a great way for Microsoft to keep Windows on the client so others can enable features like reverse seamless to take advantage and add value to desktop virtualization solutions that need remote and local execution flexibility.
Of course when comparing WES7 to a true thing client, I agree the OpEx is not a low with WES7. (At least not on paper.) But the CapEx argument for thin clients is not true, because cheap PCs cost marginally more, also offer low power models, and as soon as you try to add a second monitor you are not screwed. The cost savings of a thin/zero client quickly comes back to haunt you when the user experience is compromised and you have to run something local. Windows clients (including WES7) will provide you with the most support for Windows hosted infrastructure.
So wake up and force the issue with Microsoft now. Put the brakes on your Windows 7 deployment, revaluate all the Microsoft management tools that lock you in, and demand more value for SA. Microsoft doesn't understand what people want and can't react fast enough to the needs of the future desktop. So keep your fingers crossed that they can make the one small gesture of providing WES7 free to SA customers to at least make SA on Windows 7 equal to what it is today.