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Microsoft Windows Thin PC CTP Goes Public

A public community technology preview (CTP) of Microsoft's Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) software technology is now available, the company announced on Tuesday.

Microsoft describes WinTPC as a "locked-down version of Windows 7" that lets companies reuse their PCs, including older units, as thin clients. WinTPC is the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) follow-up to Microsoft's Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs solution, based on Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The WinTPC solution will be available to customers with the Software Assurance licensing option in place. Software Assurance is an added licensing cost that provides educational resources and no-cost software upgrades within the specific contract interval. However, while users must have Software Assurance to use WinTPC, the CTP will be open to all to try.

The public CTP of WinTPC is currently available at the Microsoft Connect portal here (requires Windows Live ID sign-up). At that page, look for the Windows Embedded Standard product, and there will be a link to join the WinTPC trial.

One of the benefits of using WinTPC for thin clients is that it doesn't require organizations to sign up for a Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license. The VDA license is an extra cost for thin-client Windows users because, according to Microsoft's licensing scheme, the use of thin clients for VDI deployments isn't included as a benefit of Software Assurance licensing.

WinTPC will tap Microsoft's RemoteFX technology, which is incorporated into Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, to enable a rich graphics experience on a remotely hosted desktop. Microsoft has typically said that RemoteFX runs applications with its Aero user interface, which was first introduced in Windows Vista. RemoteFX also can support intense graphics, such as CAD drawing programs, on thin clients, Microsoft claims.

Users will also be able to use System Center Configuration Manager to deploy WinTPC images and manage those virtual desktops. Microsoft also added write filter support with this CTP release. The write filter support is a security measure that can help organizations better manage the security of endpoint devices.

Hewlett-Packard and Wyse Technologies are working on new thin-client devices based on the Windows Embedded operating systems, but Microsoft is claiming that older "legacy" PCs and devices can be used with WinTPC. The options include using devices with lower RAM and CPU capacity. Microsoft's views on the types of hardware that can be used with WinTPC are described in this blog post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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