Microsoft Windows Thin PC (RC) turns old PCs into Thin Clients

It’s been a busy month for the Windows Thin PC team. Since the launch of the Windows Thin PC Community Technology Preview (CTP) program on March 28 we have seen tremendous interest in the product with thousands of downloads of the software. Release Candidate (RC) for Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is now available for download from the WinTPC RC site

What is Windows Thin PC?

Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is an upcoming Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) benefit that provides a low footprint, locked down version of Windows 7 that enables organizations to repurpose existing PCs as thin clients, thereby reducing the need for new thin client hardware. And since these PCs retain their existing SA coverage, they do not need any additional Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licensing for Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Suites. WinTPC offers an excellent thin client experience by locking down the PC through write filters, while still providing users with a superior remote desktop experience through RemoteFX support. IT can deploy and manage WinTPC images for multiple PCs using System Center Configuration Manager, and push updates to these PCs using Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). Additionally, WinTPC leverages Windows Enterprise features such as BitLocker and AppLocker to further secure the endpoint. In general…Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is a smaller footprint version of Windows 7 that allows customers to repurpose existing PCs as thin clients without requiring the VDA license to access VDI desktops. WinTPC replaces WinFLP.  In addition, WinTPC will offer:

  • Rich VDI experience through support for RemoteFX
  • Improved end point security by denying certain disk writes via filters
  • Enterprise-grade management support through System Center

Now in my case, i’ve a lot of old laptops lying in my office, which now i can turn into Thin Client, and do the remote desktop can I install Windows Thin PC on laptops, as well? ANSWER is Yes, WinTPC leverages the extensive Windows 7 device driver framework, and has built-in support for wireless network interface cards (NICs). As long as the laptops have the configuration mentioned above, it will support WinTPC. However, the same use rights apply to WinTPC on a laptop as on a PC, and the remote desktop experience over a wireless network may not be as good as on a wired connection.

WinTCP cannot be run in a VM.

What is Microsoft’s recommendation to customers to adopt WinTPC?

Microsoft wants to help customers adopt thin client computing for the right use cases. In order to ensure that customers get the best ROI from their thin client computing environment, Microsoft recommends the following:

1. Use Microsoft’s Optimized Desktop Strategy to determine the most appropriate use cases for server-based desktops. For these use cases, determine which users would benefit most from thin clients (i.e, those users who need local desktops or applications).

2. For pure server-based desktop scenarios, repurpose existing PCs using WinTPC. Customers will be able to evaluate the thin client experience without buying new thin client hardware, or paying the associated VDA licensing costs for VDI. WinTPC provides an excellent thin client experience, due to support for RemoteFX, as well as the ability to lock down writes to hard disk through write filters. WinTPC can also be managed using an existing desktop management infrastructure through support for System Center. In case customers decide they do not like the thin client computing experience, they have the option to repurpose the devices back as PCs.

3. Once customers have decided to move forward with thin client computing, and the WinTPCs have reached end of life, they can replace them with new Windows Embedded thin clients from Microsoft partners such as HP and Wyse. Windows Embedded thin clients integrate with System Center, and hence customers can easily leverage all security and management investments made in WinTPC.

WinTPC is an SA benefit, and is not available outside of SA. Customers without active SA coverage on their PCs can get SA by purchasing a Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription, which includes SA benefits such as WinTPC. Although Windows VDA can be purchased for any device, only devices with an existing Windows client OS (Professional / Business, Enterprise, Ultimate) qualify for WinTPC. Please refer to the Products List/Products Use Rights document for more details around WinTPC use rights.

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