Microsoft Previews Software That Turns PCs Into Thin Clients

In the Windows Thin PC CTP, Microsoft has added support for RemoteFX, a set of desktop virtualization features that allow video and other rich content to be delivered to desktop, laptop and thin-client devices, Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management for Microsoft Desktop Virtualization, said in a Monday blog post.

The CTP also allows customers to use System Center Configuration Manager to deploy and manage Windows Thin PC images, and it includes a write filter that blocks user and application writes to disk as an endpoint security measure, Alexion-Tiernan said.

PCs running Windows Thin PC won't require Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Access license (VDA), which allows customers to virtualize home PC and kiosks that aren't covered by SA for an annual fee of $100 per device, Gavriella Schuster, general manager for Windows product management, said in a blog post last month.

Although the Windows Thin PC CTP is open to all customers, only those with Software Assurance subscriptions will be able to use it once it’s a finished product. Software Assurance is a volume licensing program that lets customer upgrade to new software that's released during the term of their contract with Microsoft, and to spread payments over a three-year period.

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Virtualization tools are included in Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), but partners have previously said they believe Software Assurance is an impediment to Microsoft's virtualization momentum.

However, partners say Microsoft has made moves to address virtualization licensing policies that have caused angst in the past. Last July, Microsoft made virtual desktop access rights part of Software Assurance and stopped requiring Windows Client Software Assurance customers to buy a separate license to access Windows in a VDI environment.

Previously, Microsoft required SA customers to pay an additional $23 per device annually for Windows Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD), a device-based subscription license that was required for customers that run Windows desktops virtually from a data center.