Ultimately, Windows Thin PC is a very interesting piece of software that is hamstrung by both timing and licensing issues.

On the licensing end, this is only available to corporate customers via Microsoft’s Software Assurance program (and also to OEMs, whether under the Windows Thin PC name or the former Windows Embedded Standard moniker). A specialized, compact version of Windows that strips out most extraneous features but still maintains compatibility with existing Windows software could easily find a home on netbooks or on older machines or in certain home server configurations, but consumers and enthusiasts are left with no (legal) way to obtain it (however, I again note that you can apply many of Thin PC’s settings to a vanilla Windows install to reduce the OS’s footprint without resorting to dodgy third-party tools).

And that brings us to timing, the fly in the ointment that really ruins any potential utility this product might have had: consider that Windows Thin PC is being offered only to businesses, many of which are still in the midst of rolling out (or planning to roll out) Windows 7. Consider, also, that Windows 8 appears at the moment to be on schedule for a late 2012 release, some 18 months from now.

Corporate IT is not a fast-moving beast – there’s little chance that Windows Thin PC, which isn’t even officially available in its final form, can be approved, tested and deployed in a business that is in the early stage of deploying thin clients to users. For businesses already using thin clients, chances are that they already have their servers and clients figured out, and it may be that Windows Thin PC offers few incentives to switch, especially if they’re using a non-Microsoft product.

Even if Windows Thin PC makes a lot of sense for your business, you have at best a little over a year before Windows 8 comes along and the cycle begins anew, and that sort of turnaround time isn’t going to be appealing to risk-averse IT managers.

I think Windows Thin PC is neat. I think it shows that the Windows platform can be flexible and modular, and can potentially be adapted from the fat client OS that it is today into something a little more cloud-friendly. That being said, I don’t think that this particular niche product is going to have much time to find its niche, and that most interest in it is going to be academic rather than practical.

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  • damianrobertjones - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    No, you can remove pretty much most of WIndows 7 until it's a shell. The same thing was also available for Windows XP and was/is NOT intended for standard consumers
  • cjb110 - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    Seems like MS needed to spend more time browsing the vLight and nLight forums to see what a true Thin Win would look like. Esp as it sounds like they could have just provided an instruction page on how to recreate ThinWin yourself!

    Also I hope the other thing they gain from this is more granularity in Win 8. Ok by default install the lot, I understand that's probably easiest for most users. However expand the current 'program features' to include as much as possible so that people *can* save disk space and gain memory by removing stuff they don't want.
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    Agreed re: Windows 8. Even when they let you "remove" features in Windows 7 (IE, Windows games, etc.), re-adding them doesn't require the installation disk, so you know the files are still lurking on your hard drive somewhere.

    I understand that this is done in the name of simplicity, and with the understanding that high-capacity mechanical hard drives are cheaper than dirt nowadays. But still - back in the 9x days, you could save quite a bit of space by going with a compact/minimal install. Not so anymore.
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    ? Windows 7 embedded standard (Which this is) does actually provide you with a full (ish) list of options and what to un-install along the way
  • Visual - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    Um.. maybe I am blind or maybe you really skipped the most important detail, the price.
  • DanNeely - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    That's because it's only available to OEM/volume licensing customers; afaik those prices are never widely published.
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    MS's volume licensing is a bit convoluted, unsurprisingly - essentially, the people who will get Windows Thin PC already pay a yearly fee for the ability to install any version of Windows on any computer they own. The drawback is that the computer had to have been purchased with some version of Windows on it in the first place - you could install Windows 7 on a computer that came with Windows 98, if you wanted/could, but you can't (legally) install Windows on a computer that came with Linux preinstalled.

    I'm not a huge fan of this practice, since it means that Microsoft is essentially double-dipping and making you buy two Windows licenses for every computer, but the benefit is that you have access to all new OSes and Office versions (and a few other things besides) as they come out, usually without any additional fees on top of what you've already paid (at least for the client software - server software is a bit more complicated). It also lets you keep putting older OSes like XP on computers even after OEMs stop shipping it (provided you can get drivers).
  • Crazymech - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    I think this was a very fun article, on a bit more unique subject, and it makes me wonder about more uses (like for example overclocking records and such), so huzzah for that.

    Tho I'm gonna be a biit whiny and say at some points in the article it could really use a bit more proof reading. Like on the 2nd page about installed/missing programs where Notepad and Wordpad is special enough to be mentioned twice.

    And there are more places in the article with two paragraphs following each other and more or less saying the exact same thing - that's what I expect my local newspaper to do to just fill the column space, it's not needed online.
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the suggestions - this thing was written and rewritten and things got moved around a lot as I organized my observations into a coherent piece, so I'm not surprised that there were a few redundancies that crept in. I cleaned some things up a bit.
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    This is not meant to be used as a client OS. Can you do some testing with it and maybe compare it to other thin client systems?

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