Microsoft Offers Windows Vista License For Thin Clients

The Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop license is available for a subscription fee that varies based on hardware configurations and the number of users at a customer site.
In response to the growing number of businesses where workers forego high-end, fully loaded computers in favor of bare bones machines that access centrally stored software, Microsoft on Monday introduced a licensing model that lets companies to store its new Windows Vista operating system on servers linked to thin-client PCs.

Under the plan, Microsoft now will allow companies that already own licenses for the Enterprise Edition of Windows Vista to implement a server-based version of the operating system at no additional cost.

There is a catch, however. Unless companies are prepared to dedicate an entire Windows Vista server to each employee, they will need to purchase an additional license that allows them to run numerous, virtualized instances of the OS on a single piece of back-end hardware.

That license, which Microsoft is calling Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop, is available for a subscription fee that varies based on hardware configurations and the number of users at a customer site.

Microsoft already offers a thin client licensing model and technology infrastructure called Terminal Services. However, the company says the Centralized Desktop program offers users a more complete Windows Vista experience than could be achieved under conventional thin-client setups, which typically sacrifice some functionally in favor of centralization and ease of management.

Later this year, Microsoft says it plans to release a management tool -- System Center Virtual Machine Manager -- that's designed to let users more efficiently implement virtualized versions of Windows Vista on central servers.

Adding thin client capabilities to Windows Vista could help Microsoft fend off the challenge presented by a combination of Linux and Google. At least one influential chief information officer, Dave Bowen of the Federal Aviation Administration, has said the combination of inexpensive, open-source desktops matched with Google's online applications is an attractive alternative to Microsoft's traditional fat-client offerings.

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