Microsoft Puts 'Eiger' Thin Client Into Early Testing - InformationWeek

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5/13/2005
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Microsoft Puts 'Eiger' Thin Client Into Early Testing

Even as Sun announced this week its planned acquisition of Tarantella's Secure Global Desktop, Microsoft confirmed that it has under development a "lean" client code-named "Eiger" that will access terminal services of the Windows server using its RDP and Citrix ICA protocols and also add the multimedia and security features of Windows XP SP2 for legacy PCs. "Monch" is a follow on client that is now just a "wish list," Microsoft claims.

Microsoft confirmed that it is developing a "lean" Windows XP client code-named "Eiger" for customers who want the security and management capabilities of Windows XP but who cannot afford new PCs.

The planned product will technically function as a thin client that access the Windows server terminal services over Microsoft's own remote desktop protocol (RDP) and Citrix's ICA protocol but also offers additional capabilities that the company puts somewhere between a "fat" client such as Windows XP and a traditional "green screen" thin client, said Barry Goffe, group manager for the Windows client product management team.

(In other RDP news, Microsoft said Friday that Sun Microsystems now has the rights to use the RDP protocol. That means that in the future, Sun Ray devices will be able to access Windows terminal services. More details to follow)

The "Eiger" offering for example, will offer six core capabilities, including the two thin client experiences over Microsoft RDP or Citrix ICA as well as "fat" client capabilities by including Internet Explorer, Media Player, mainframe terminal emulation and the security features of Windows XP SP2.

Observers say Microsoft faces competition from Linux in educational and SMB markets and must offer a lower-cost client experience for owners of older PCs.

"Eiger is not a general-purpose operating system, and it's not what traditional customers think of as a single purpose devices with zero management overhead," claimed Microsoft's Goffe said. "It's somewhere in between -- a mid client or lean client. We don't see it as competitive because our work around Eiger is not focused on competition but to help a select set of customers looking for a bridge solution."

The planned product, which is in "very early" stages of development, is not intended to compete against partners Wyse, Neoware or Citrix but rather will serve as a bridge to help customers upgrade to new Windows capabilities while holding off on new PC purchases, Goffe insisted.

Goffe noted the client will not run line-of-business applications or Office locally though those applications can be displayed to "Eiger" from a server.

Microsoft denied that its confirmation this week was in any way linked to Sun's announced intent to buy Tarantella, a Citrix competitor whose Secure Global Desktop will be integrated into Solaris in order to lower the costs and complexity " and improve the security -- of desktop management.

Microsoft provides Windows terminal services free in its Windows server but customers must purchase a pricey client access license to access and use them.

Goffe claimed he opted to discuss its "lean client" plans this week after the recent leak of an internal Microsoft Powerpoint document about "Eiger" and another Microsoft client under development code-named "Monch" that was posted to a web site operated by Steven Bink, an Amsterdam, Netherlands MCSE who runs a web site known as Bink.nu.

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