Microsoft has released the final build of software that can give older desktops and laptops a new lease on life by effectively turning them into Windows 7 thin clients.
Microsoft describes Windows Thin PC as "a low footprint, locked down version of Windows 7." The company made the final Release Candidate available on Monday and plans to ship a final version by June 30. Windows TPC will only be available to Microsoft's Software Assurance subscribers, who pay an annual fee to receive unlimited patches and updates from the company.
In Microsoft's view, Windows TPC is best suited for businesses that are mostly running Windows 7 on newer machines, but still have pockets of older systems that don't have the horsepower or space to run the new OS alongside a full complement of applications and firmware.
The minimum requirements for a PC to run Windows TPC are a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of available disk space. Those are the same requirements to run the full version of Windows 7, but with Windows TPC, users save space by accessing applications remotely.
"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 ensure they will have adequate space," said Karri Alexion-Tiernan, Microsoft's director of product management for Desktop Virtualization.
"They 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 and they're also pleased they can leverage their existing System Center products for management and deployment," said Alexion-Tiernan.
Windows TPC prevents end-users from installing and running apps locally, but gives them full access to advanced Windows 7 features like BitLocker security and the Aero interface. As with regular PCs, IT admins can manage desktops running Windows TPC through System Center, but they'll need to have Remote FX running in Windows Server 2008, R2, Service Pack 1.
Microsoft said more than 12,000 customers signed up for the Windows TPC Technology Preview program, an indication of strong interest in the technology. However, it's not likely to take a bite of the traditional thin client market, which is led by vendors like Wyse and Citrix.
Windows TPC isn't meant to be a full thin-client solution, but rather a bridge technology that extends the life of a company's existing fleet of fact-client desktops or laptops.