Windows Thin PC: Windows, Slimmed Downby Andrew Cunningham on April 28, 2011 8:00 PM EST
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.