Windows Thin PC release candidate available for download

Microsoft describes software as a 'locked-down' version of Windows 7 with a smaller footprint

Microsoft announced May 2 that the release candidate version (RC) of its Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) solution is now available for download.

The RC is available through the Microsoft Connect portal here (requires Windows Live ID and signup). The final product, or release-to-manufacturing version, will appear in the second quarter of this year, according to the company's announcement.

The RC succeeds the community test preview version that Microsoft released in late March. That release drew "12,000 customers or partners," according to the company's announcement.

Microsoft describes WinTPC as a "locked-down" version of Windows 7 with a smaller footprint, which sounds like the definition of its Windows Embedded operating system product line. It's the successor program to Microsoft's Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs solution, which is based on Windows XP Service Pack 3. Organizations can use any PC or laptop capable of running Windows 7 as a thin-client with WinTPC. Two hardware partners, HP and Wyse Technologies, offer new thin-client devices designed to work with WinTPC that run the Windows Embedded operating systems.

WinTPC is a virtual desktop infrastructure solution where the applications are accessed by the end user via a remote server. According to Microsoft's FAQ (PDF), the only applications that are allowed to run on the thin-client devices are remote desktop clients, management applications, security applications and media players. WinTPC can deploy write filters that will prevent the user from saving data to the local device.

Image deployment and management can be carried out using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager or PowerShell, according to the FAQ. Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services can be used to deliver OS patches.

WinTPC depends upon the RemoteFX technology that Microsoft released with Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1. The ability to run WinTPC also depends on having a Software Assurance licensing option in place with Microsoft.

Those organizations wanting to run WinTPC, but lacking Software Assurance, can purchase a Windows Virtual Desktop Access subscription from Microsoft, which provides the Software Assurance licensing benefit needed run WinTPC. However, in that case, the client machines used with WinTPC have to be licensed to run Windows 7 Professional, Business, Enterprise or Ultimate editions, according to Microsoft's FAQ.

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