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Microsoft took the wraps off a version of its Windows NT operating system that's designed for high-performance thin client computers. Leading thin-client hardware vendors fell in line to pledge support, while expressing a wait-and-see attitude toward widespread acceptance of the operating system.
Microsoft's new client-side operating system, Windows-based Terminal Professional, is based on Windows NT Embedded, the company's platform for retail point-of-sale and other embedded devices. WBT Professional, which Microsoft says will ship in the first quarter of 2000, will complement WBT Standard, a thin-client operating system based on the Windows CE platform. Customers will run Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition on the server side.
WBT Professional includes a full local version of Internet Explorer 5 in order to boost performance of applications delivered through a browser via phone-line connections; better graphics performance compared with WBT Standard; and broader peripheral support, says Microsoft product manager Dave Pollon.
Compaq says it will deliver thin clients based on WBT Professional, following its release of thin-client devices running Windows CE this fall. Thin-client market leader Wyse Technology and competitor Network Computing Devices Inc. also said they'd develop products based on the new operating system. Jim Fulton, VP of product management at NCD, says NT-based devices will ease distribution of new applications to users, but adds that the operating system inside a thin client is less important to customers than issues such as manageability and support.
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