We’ve been sharing updates on Windows Thin PC for some time now and are excited to announce that today Windows Thin PC reached its RTM milestone and will become generally available for download on July 1, 2011.
As we’ve been talking about, customers told us that they want an easy way to repurpose their existing PCs as thin clients. Windows Thin PC makes this a reality and plays a part in our broader desktop virtualization strategy , which is to deliver the flexibility to work from everywhere, improve compliance and business continuity, and simplify management so that IT professionals can deliver better service to employees.
With the above goal in mind we created Windows Thin PC to help customers repurpose their PCs as thin clients, thereby driving down the cost of VDI. We used additional feedback gathered from customers in our Community Technology Preview (CTP) to add a few features in the RTM.
- Keyboard Filter: Windows Thin PC will have the capability to allow customers to lock certain key combinations, such as Ctrl +Alt + Delete, from being utilized and taking effect on a Windows Thin PC device, thereby providing customers with greater level of security and control over user interaction with their WinTPCs.
- International IMEs (Input Method Editor) support: Windows Thin PC will now include the option to support international keyboards.
- Key Management Server (KMS)/Multiple Activation Key (MAK): Windows Thin PC will now be able to activate against a customer’s existing KMS server or use MAK keys, which enables quick and easy activation mechanisms that customers already use for their Windows desktops today.
Ultimately, the goal with the final version of Windows Thin PC is to enable customers to extend existing investments in hardware and software for their VDI environments, so that, where appropriate, thin client computing becomes a natural part of their overall desktop strategy. And there is demand in the industry for this capability, according to recent survey published by Gartner nearly 60% of respondents indicated that they are interested in reconfiguring existing PCs as thin clients when asked “Is your organization planning to use existing clients/PCs for HVD, or will they purchase new client hardware?” (Source: Gartner, Survey Analysis: 2010 Data Center Conference, x86 Virtualization and Hosted Virtual Desktops Driven by Business Agility, Not by Cost Savings. February 2011, Note: Number of respondents equals 182 – multiple responses allowed).
With the customer feedback through our CTP, we also had the opportunity to work with a few customers to test Windows Thin PC and put it through the paces. One was Deluxe Corporation, a $1.4 billion financial services company with locations in the United States, Canada and Ireland, who worked closely with us during product development. Deluxe is known as a dynamic organization that combines innovation with integrity and found that Windows Thin PC was exactly what they were looking for.
We talked with Scott Valeri, Manager of Enterprise Desktop & Mobile Architecture & Engineering at Deluxe who said, “Windows Thin PC is a strategic tool within our desktop deployment model and is the next natural step in our thin client computing strategy, as we evaluate ways to providing a rich Windows experience from both fixed and mobile thin PCs. Windows Thin PC enables [us] to leverage existing investments in PCs as well as new investments in Thin PCs equipped with Atom CPUs. As Deluxe Corporation migrates additional users to virtual desktops, Windows Thin PC will be the primary operating system used to reach virtual desktops.”
In addition to Deluxe Corporation, we also received feedback from other customers. We have tried to answer a lot of your questions through the Windows Thin PC site, but would like to touch upon a few frequently asked questions that have come up over the course of the beta program.
Q: Will Windows Thin PC be supported by Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP)?
A: Another key piece of feedback we received from customers is the need for Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) support for Windows Thin PC. Today, I am happy to announce that FEP support will be coming to Windows Thin PC in Q3 CY2011, which is in the same quarter as the GA for Windows Thin PC. Customers will be able to extend their investments with FEP to Windows Thin PC, unifying their anti-malware strategy across PCs and Windows Thin PCs.
Q: Will customers be able to run applications on Windows Thin PCs?
A: Windows Thin PC is designed to be a thin client device, and therefore only applications that fall into the certain categories are enabled. These categories include security, management, terminal emulation, Remote Desktop and similar technologies, web browsers, media players, instant messaging clients, document viewers, NET Framework and Java Virtual Machine. If customers want to locally run productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, or any other application that does not fall into the categories mentioned above, they would be better off using a PC, as thin client computing may not be the best fit for their scenarios.
Q: How can I extend my management to Windows Thin PC?
A: Management is a critical component of any desktop virtualization strategy and you should be able to leverage existing infrastructure wherever you can to reduce complexity and we believe this holds true for the access device as well. Windows Thin PC can be managed using your existing System Center Configuration Manager deployment, thereby ensuring that you are able to leverage existing investments in technology, processes and expertise. Additionally, the new Windows Embedded Device Manager 2011 helps simplify management of devices where write filters are turned on.
Q: Will I be able to use Citrix Receiver with Windows Thin PC?
A: As discussed in previous posts, Microsoft and Citrix work closely together to bring you a complete desktop virtualization solution and Windows Thin PC is no different. We are happy to let you know that our partnership is here for you once again and we’ve made sure the Windows Thin PC and Citrix’s Receiver technology work together, so if you’re accessing XenApp or Xendesktop via Windows Thin PC you’ll have a great experience!
We want to say thank you to everyone for the interest in Windows Thin PC over the past few months – we value the feedback and encourage you to continue giving us your thoughts in the comment section below. For more information, check out the Windows Thin PC site.
Also, if you didn’t enroll in the beta program but can’t wait until it becomes generally available to try it out, no need to worry. You can still register and download the beta software from http://connect.micrsoft.com until July 1.