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Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 Reaches RTM Status

Microsoft's Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 product hit the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) mark last week, though it is still unclear when products will be available from OEM partners.

The 60-day evaluation edition RTM software can be downloaded and installed on hardware today via this page. This evaluation edition software can be reset three more times for a total of 240 days. It's possible to activate this RTM installation later with a product key when the product is publicly available, according to Microsoft's announcement.

MultiPoint Server 2012 is a shared-resource computing solution for classroom-like settings. It enables a single PC to act as a server to multiple terminals. The aim is to reduce equipment costs, complexity and maintenance costs for organizations lacking IT personnel. A single server connects to multiple "dumb" terminals consisting of screen, keyboard and mouse via various access devices, such as "zero clients" or "thin clients." Microsoft's partners sell new host computers and access devices, although MultiPoint Server allows older PCs to be reused in the network. A new feature in MultiPoint Server 2012 is the ability to virtualize Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktops using Hyper-V, which can help in cases where there may be some device incompatibility issues.

It doesn't appear that many new features were added to MultiPoint Server 2012 since the beta was announced in July. The server supports Windows 8 touch experiences for terminals with "direct video connect stations," according to Microsoft's announcement. Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs can be added to a MultiPoint network via a software connector.

IT management and classroom administration tasks are now separated in MultiPoint Server 2012. Management is carried out by administrators through the MultiPoint Manager interface. Classroom tasks are allocated by instructors using the new MultiPoint Dashboard. With the new server, it's now possible to share the MultiPoint Dashboard with other users without also sharing network administration capabilities.

Another perk in MultiPoint Server 2012 is the ability to set up "disk protection" for the network. This feature will remove any changes made during a session and restore the system back to "a known good state on every boot," according to Microsoft's announcement.

It's not clear if Microsoft will have any new licensing changes with MultiPoint Server 2012. The licensing described for the earlier product followed the model of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services licensing. The server requires a MultiPoint Server license. Each individual station requires both a Windows Server Client Access License (CAL) and a Windows MultiPoint Server CAL. Application licensing, such as Microsoft Office, is an extra licensing cost.

MultiPoint Server may not be able to run all apps. However, in general, it can run apps that are known to work with Remote Desktop Services, according to Microsoft's description.

The earlier MultiPoint Server product was capable of supporting up to 20 stations. However, the hardware has to be more robust to support more users on the network or to support video-intensive applications, according to this Microsoft blog post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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