It's been almost a year since I originally wrote the Microsoft was releasing a stripped-down version of Windows XP Professional that can be used to convert a regular PC to a Windows XP-based thin client. Originally slated to be released this month, as of today that product has now been pushed back to "late 2006" according to the Windows Fundamentals website.
The great irony here is that the purpose (according to Microsoft) of Windows Fundamentals is not for new computers to be used as thin clients, but rather for old PCs that are licensed for Windows XP (via Software Assurance) but that are not powerful enough to run it. Windows Fundamentals is supposed to let corporations manage their old PCs today in modern domains and to provide access to modern software.
With each month that passes, the value of this product becomes less and less. And with the new schedule of "late 2006," that puts Windows Fundamentals into the same timeframe as Vista.
My guess is that Microsoft got into trouble with their partners regarding Windows XP Embedded. After all, who would want to buy a $500-600 thin client device running XP Embedded when you could buy a brand-new Dell computer for $399 (with monitor) that could then run Windows Fundamentals. As an added bonus, the Windows Fundamentals solution would have a much lower learning curve for admins since it would be a "real" computer and wouldn't have all the complexities of XP Embedded.
Or maybe Microsoft got into trouble with hp and Dell and the other corporate PC suppliers. The ad on the Windows Fundamentals website has some guys saying, "My legacy hardware is now as secure as my newest PCs," which is like saying, "Thanks to Microsoft, I don't have to buy new PCs."
I think hp and Dell will be happier with the new quote, "Someday, perhaps as early as late 2006, my legacy hardware will be as secure as my newest PCs."
So will we ever see Windows Fundamentals? I guess if it doesn't come out soon, then who cares?