NComputing Touts Wins In Multi-user PC Space

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Stephen Dukker, who is now chairman and CEO of Redwood City, Calif.-based NComputing, said his company has landed a 180,000-student deal with the Republic of Macedonia in the largest rollout of the company's technology to date. Dukker said NComputing is in the early stages, too, of building out its multi-user PC technology in the U.S., and has begun lining up solution providers for sales and integration.

The company Monday said the Macedonia deal means its X300 multi-user systems "will be used to equip virtually all of the school children in the Republic of Macedonia with a rich computer experience." Demonstrations of the technology show several terminals, all with the ability to simultaneously perform tasks including viewing streaming multi-media, all connected to one PC. Dukker said the Macedonia deal will include terminals linked to PCs running Linux-based Edubuntu software, but that school districts throughout the U.S. have also begun deploying the systems running Windows.

NComputing is still in the early stages of building a VAR channel. "What you need are VARs," Dukker said. "You need local people."

Marc Stuewe, a regional sales manager for MA Technology, a Carrollton, Texas-based solution provider, said his company has deployed several thousands of the NComputing devices and has had success with clients that need computing access in limited or fixed settings.

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"One school district up in Dallas just purchased over 1,000 units," Stuewe said. "It's been very good, with customers using it to spread resources." He said clients including libraries, which seek low-cost solutions that can help patrons look up books, or schools that want to provide more access to students, are good examples of adopters so far. "A teacher may have one system in the classroom," Stuewe said. "If a kid needs anything, they send him down to the library."

Most schools have a "graveyard" of old CRT monitors, keyboards and mice, he said, which could be pulled out of storage and used -- with NComputing's multi-user computing device -- to create lower-cost work stations. Stuewe said that NComputing has provided 30-day demo devices, and provides a money-back guarantee. "We haven't had anybody want to give it back," he said.

Concerns by some in the channel that the devices would lead to licensing problems with Microsoft haven't yet materialized, the solution provider said, since the NComputing terminal stations don't maintain a hard drive. However, in some situations -- such as when a school has multiple students using Microsoft Word off the same PC -- Stuewe said he has advised customers to purchase additional licenses as needed. "I would rather the customer be safe than sorry," he said.