Windows Thin PC nears final release

Microsoft has issued a release candidate of Windows Thin PC, a stripped-down version of Windows 7 for thin clients, and will make the software widely available by the end of this quarter.

Microsoft launched a beta program at the end of March that attracted 12,000 customers and partners, and followed it up with a downloadable release candidate this week, the company said.

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Beta testers told Microsoft they "like the reduced footprint" of Windows Thin PC, because "the machines they will likely use it on often have less disk space than brand new machines," Microsoft official Karri Alexion-Tiernan said in a blog post. Customers "also like the write filters which are helping customers to secure the device running WinTPC by preventing them from saving data or installing applications locally."

While Windows Thin PC is free during the testing period, it will be available only to Software Assurance customers after it hits final release.

Windows Thin PC can be installed on thin clients, old PCs and laptops, and managed by IT shops with System Center. Desktop images are streamed from the data center to thin clients using Microsoft's own RemoteFX technology.

The software 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," Microsoft said. "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 AppLockerTM to further secure the endpoint.

The only software that can be installed on Windows Thin PC devices are remote desktop clients, management and security tools and media players. Productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office, must be accessed remotely.

In 18 months of availability, Microsoft has sold 350 million copies of Windows 7.

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