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2005/05/18 Thin Client, Client/Server

Although currently most business environments are Windows desktops accessing Windows, Linux, Unix or even Novell servers (and some mainframes, of course), there is a growing trend to Thin Client Smart Terminals.

The advantages to business are return of more control to the MIS department, easier deployment of upgrades, less concern about viruses, spyware, etc (or at least less kittens to chase). These terminals can also be less expensive, more reliable, and easier to "repair" (just replace it). Many of these, particularly at the low end of the market, run Linux as the underlying OS.

MIS departments expend tremendous energy and money because of Windows problems, so the tide may be shifting. The ability to do this has been available for quite a few years (I was doing Citrix stuff longer ago than I care to remember, and X terminals before that), but it's much more palatable then it was a decade ago. That's partially because the technology has gotten better, particularly for remote office use, partially because Windows apps now play much better in a multiuser environment than they did previously, but I think mostly it is driven by the frustration with viri, spyware and the many inscrutable and time consuming glitches that plague Windows desktops.

The beautiful thing about it from a Redmond hater's point of view is that the client/server model makes it much easier for an app vendor to return to or switch to Unix/Linux and much more likely that they will contemplate doing so. We may yet see the day when people say "Gawd.. remember when we had all that awful Microsoft crap in here?"

See also Windows 2003 Terminal Server, Remote Desktop, thin clients and all that

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