UPDATE: Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Coming in March
Microsoft today announced its release plans for its forthcoming Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 shared computing product.
The product, which is geared for classrooms, labs and libraries, will be available through Microsoft's volume licensing channels in March. It can also be purchased from various original equipment manufacturers in the second quarter of this year.
Organizations using the earlier 2010 product with Software Assurance licensing in place will have upgrade rights to the 2011 product when it is released. Those buying the 2010 product today with Software Assurance will also have those same upgrade rights, according Microsoft's announcement.
The 2011 product is currently available for testing as a release candidate version, which Microsoft announced in December. A number of features were baked into the RC, including support for thin clients over LANs, management of multiple "pods" through a single console, split-screen capability at terminals and a domain join feature for Active Directory integration. The Premium edition of the product will enable domain joins; Microsoft also will offer a Standard edition without that capability.
Windows MultiPoint 2011 creates a shared computing environment in which one PC connects with up to 20 dumb terminals, each consisting of a screen, keyboard and mouse. The standard edition supports 10 stations, while the premium edition supports 20 stations, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified by e-mail on Wednesday. The system can be set up quickly using a video port, USB 2.0 hub or new multifunction USB devices, according to James Duffus, group program manager for Windows MultiPoint, as he explains in a video accompanying Microsoft's announcement.
The system has an automatic-discovery capability that's capable of linking up with other MultiPoint servers. Microsoft's partners will have user experience customization opportunities to build on top of the product, according to Duffus.
Existing Windows 7 Group Policies will work with Windows MultiPoint Server, according to Jason Oliphant, workstation computer project lead for the Bellevue School District, in a Microsoft-produced video. Windows MultiPoint Server enables remote management by IT pros to handle any problems with a workstation, according to David Moon, IT director at the Sultan School District, according to a Microsoft video.
Moon added that the system supports Remote Desktop Protocol, which allows thin clients to be used with Windows MultiPoint. It also supports Microsoft's RemoteFX technology, enabling "legacy PCs and laptops" to work with the system, according to Duffus.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.