Microsoft Corp.'s newly released operating system designed to power small computing devices has found a home in a new slim computer terminal, or thin client, from Wyse Technology Inc.
The terminal was unveiled Wednesday in conjunction with Microsoft's release of its Windows XP operating system for embedded devices. Wyse said it expects to be the first hardware maker to offer a thin client device with XP installed. The company said it will begin shipping its new machine, commonly used to run cash registers and bar-code scanning applications, in the first quarter of 2002.
A thin client typically is a slim terminal computer that has little or no software installed and instead runs applications off of a central server. It is considered to be a low-cost alternative to the bulky desktop PC.
The Wyse Winterm 9440XL is the latest in Wyse's WinCAT (Windows Custom-Application Terminal) line of client-server computers, which use Windows operating systems. Designed to run applications locally, it is Wyse's most advanced thin client, according to the company. This release features the same hardware configuration as its predecessor, which used the embedded version of Windows NT.
"It is essentially the same hardware platform," said David Rand, director of field marketing at Wyse. "The new benefits are those that derive from the fact that it's based on XP embedded."
The 9440XL will feature support for thousands of different peripheral devices, more than previous Windows-based thin clients, according to Wyse. It includes built-in support for USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices and hundreds of other drivers. The NT systems lacked many of the drivers that customers typically need, Rand said. The new machines also make use of the increased multimedia capabilities available in the desktop version of Windows XP.
The devices will ship with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 Web browser and Wyse's Rapport management software, which allows systems administrators to manage a network remotely. The management software will inventory a network of about 200 thin clients and allow administrators to maintain those systems.
With efforts to secure computer networks at many organizations heightened in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the idea of a thin client is gaining new appeal, Wyse said. It allows organizations to store all of their data on back-end servers rather than on the desktop machine. If an employee can't get to the local machine, or that machine is destroyed, no data will be lost. Also, a company can relocate an office and set up new thin-client machines quickly and at a lower cost than if they use desktop PCs.
"If you can't get into your building, what data is on your hard drive that hasn't made it to the server yet?" Rand asked. "If your hard drive is gone, what does that mean to the company in terms of real dollars?"
The company also plans to release an upgrade of its mid-level thin client running Microsoft's upcoming Windows CE .Net operating system. Microsoft said that embedded operating system is due to be released by the end of December. Wyse did not comment on when it would launch its device.