Dell to introduce new Wyse thin clients for Windows 8 OS

The new Wyse thin clients will be shown at the VMware trade show in San Francisco next month

It's been just 60 days since Dell completed the acquisition of thin-client company Wyse, but the business unit is moving forward with plans to release new thin clients designed to work with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS.

The devices will be tuned to work with the touch-based Metro user-interface in Windows 8, and the new hardware will be shown at VMware's VMworld conference in San Francisco between August 26 and 30, said Jeff McNaught, chief strategy and marketing officer of the Wyse business unit at Dell, on Tuesday.

Microsoft's Windows 8 OS is due for release on tablets and PCs later this year. The OS has improved virtual desktop features and the touch interface that could make thin clients more interactive with a tablet-like usage model, McNaught said. One example would be kiosks, which could capture information better with touch.

McNaught declined to provide details on the type of thin clients Dell would launch, but said the hardware would provide more "finely tuned" experiences based on Windows 8.

Dell's Wyse unit offers a range of products including thin clients in the form of laptops, monitors and zero-client desktop boxes. Virtual desktops are served to the thin clients either via centralized or virtualized servers, and Wyse also provides desktop virtualization tools to enable remote desktops. For example, the company provides PocketCloud for tablets and smartphones based on Apple's iOS or Google's Android so the mobile devices can access files on Windows and Macintosh computers.

Wyse thin clients are based on x86 and ARM processors, and run on the proprietary ThinOS, Linux and embedded Windows OSes. Wyse also offers a software stack compatible with Microsoft, VMware and Citrix virtualized environments.

Desktop virtualization is taking a cloud-like approach, and the traditional concept of the PC being the hub isn't the case anymore, McNaught said. Dell and Wyse continue to work closely with VMware, Microsoft and Citrix, who are deploying sophisticated tools and are able to deliver an entire user experience to remote clients.

The user interface is better, and the cost of adding a user to a virtualized environment is less, which is making desktop virtualization attractive, McNaught said. Users also have more devices that can be virtual desktops.

"You need a different model to support this explosion of endpoint devices. It's us supporting, and the market is changing," McNaught said.

Microsoft's upcoming Windows Server 2012 includes an updated version of RDP (remote desktop protocol) which has been licensed and modified by Wyse to enable delivery of touch-based features to remote desktops. The updated RDP protocol doesn't gobble up a lot of resources, so it is relatively easy to implement, he said.

Dell bought Wyse to become a major vendor in the virtual desktop space, which is still growing, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. Dell offered virtual desktop products, but Wyse has a far broader range of assets, including sophisticated management software and related services for provisioning of virtual desktops to a wide range of devices.

"There's a consensus in the industry that virtualization has made this style of desktop PC provisioning far more attractive operationally than traditional thin clients where each endpoint is tied to an individual server," King said.

Dell and Wyse seem to be in a good position to profit from the continuing roll-out of Windows 7 among businesses, and Dell's increasing focus on mid-sized enterprises should provide additional growth opportunities.

"If Microsoft's Windows 8 is a success, especially as a driver of Windows-based tablet sales, that could spur significant future Dell-Wyse sales," King said.

McNaught said Wyse is fitting smoothly into Dell, and there could be other opportunities to extend Wyse technology, such as in cloud computing and mobile device management tools. Dell has acquired many companies in the past few years in an effort to build out its product portfolio ranging from hardware to software and services.

"Dell has aggressive revenue goals for us over the next few years," McNaught said.

Pund-IT's King said Wyse could focus on virtual desktops in the short-term, but cautioned that in recent years virtual desktops and thin clients have tended to exceed expectations, which could change.

"That seems to be in the process of changing as virtual desktops catch on among companies of every size and offer cloud service providers a valuable market model," King said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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