Windows Thin PC Released by Microsoft

Available to volume licensing customers on Software Assurance plan, TechNet and MSDN subscribers, and some partners.

Microsoft has released Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) to its volume licensing customers with Software Assurance, as well as those with Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN subscriptions. It also can be downloaded by Microsoft partners that have silver and gold competencies in desktop and virtualization specialties. Volume licensing customers can get WinTPC here. A free 90-day trial version can be downloaded from the WinTPC home page.

WinTPC is virtual desktop infrastructure technology based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard 7 code base. WinTPC is designed to enable organizations with older PCs to continue to use their hardware, repurposing it as thin clients running a stripped-down version of Windows 7.

Last month, Microsoft announced that WinTPC had hit the "release-to-manufacturing" stage, meaning that the solution was complete and ready for commercial use. Now the software is at "general availability" status, ready for use by those organizations with the Software Assurance licensing.

Microsoft's Software Assurance is an annuity licensing option that promises product upgrades within a specific contract period.  It also provides access to educational materials. In addition to access to WinTPC, Software Assurance adds access to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack tool suite. (A detailed analysis of Software Assurance's benefits and limitations can be found in this article by Microsoft licensing expert and independent consultant Paul DeGroot.)

Organizations without Software Assurance licensing nor Windows 7 licensing for their PCs (required to run WinTPC), have other ways to license and use WinTPC. They can subscribe to Windows Intune, a software-as-a-service PC management offering from Microsoft, which grants Software Assurance benefits, or they can purchase a Windows Virtual Desktop Access license, which also carries Software Assurance rights.

The general availability release of WinTPC now includes Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 support, which comes with the latest rollup of that client security solution from Microsoft. Other security features are included with WinTPC, including BitLocker and AppLocker protection for hard drives and apps, respectively. In addition, WinTPC offers a smaller footprint to ward off attacks. Writes to disks on clients are precluded via write filter security technology offered with WinTPC.

Microsoft also announced today that Deluxe Corp. has been using WinTPC. The company, known for its check printing business, moved to WinTPC because replacing its poor-performing PCs with new ones "would have been too costly," according to Microsoft's case study.

Those wanting to use WinTPC need to know that it has restrictions on the applications that can be used. The only applications supported by WinTPC are those that can run on terminal emulation and Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services, plus apps based on the .NET Framework and Java Virtual Machine. Productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office, aren't supported, according to Microsoft's WinTPC FAQ (PDF).

About the Author

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