Microsoft announced this week that the Release Candidate (RC) of Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is now available, and that it expects that WinTPC will be officially released sometime this quarter. WinTPC is no substitute for Windows 7, but it will enable Microsoft customers to continue using older hardware in new ways.
One of the biggest hurdles for moving to Windows 7 for many organizations is the increased hardware requirements of the latest Microsoft operating system. Businesses that have clung to the decade-old Windows XP operating system often have hardware that is archaic by today's standards as well. While IT budgets should account for periodic hardware and platform refreshes, it also seems silly to just pitch hardware that could still serve a productive purpose.
WinTPC is a low footprint, locked down version of Windows 7 which lets organizations repurpose existing legacy hardware as thin clients that can continue to provide productive value by connecting remotely with virtual desktop and virtual application services.
In a Windows for your Business Blog post, Karri Alexion-Tiernan notes, "Customers like the reduced footprint of WinTPC--the machines they will likely use it on often have less disk space than brand new machines and WinTPC helps to ensure they will have adequate space."
She also explains that the locked down nature of WinTPC helps reduce exposure to attack, and that WinTPC has write filters which prevent users from saving data or installing rogue applications locally on the Windows Thin PC system.
WinTPC systems can only run remote desktop clients, management tools, security software, and media players. Full-fledged productivity software such as Microsoft Office can not run on WinTPC, but could still be accessed using Web-based or virtual application versions.
The smaller system footprint means that there is less exposure to vulnerabilities or attack. The write filters prevent data from being written locally to the system, and ensure that after each reboot the WinTPC system will be restored to its original pristine state. WinTPC systems also support BitLocker (and BitLocker to Go) encryption to protect data, and AppLocker to prevent unauthorized applications from being run on the system.
The software will be offered as a Software Assurance (SA) benefit, so it will only be available to Microsoft SA customers. The recommended minimum hardware specs for a WinTPC system are a 1GHz or faster processor, at least 1GB of RAM, 16GB of available hard drive space, a DirectX 9 compatible graphics card, and a bootable DVD drive.
WinTPC can be installed on laptops that meet the requirements as well, but Microsoft recommends using a wired connection because wireless networks are often slower and less stable and may not provide a satisfactory experience when accessing remote virtual desktops and applications.