Here's a strange question

Posted on 2002-07-27
Last Modified: 2010-04-13
This is an interesting problem, that I never expected to have to deal with. I have a client who wants to be able to access one computer from to different desks.

I would have two sets of keyboards, mice, and monitors and use a KVM switch.

But here is the kicker - both users would use the machine simultaneously.

Is this at all possible?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Question by:CharlesBLee
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Expert Comment

ID: 7182255
Are his people actually collaborating (on the same document/application) or is he trying to save some money on hardware/software ?

If they are in fact working together, this is possible technically (I've hooked up a combo of USB/Serial mice as well as multiple monitors. I never tried keyboards, but they should work too)
Still, his people would have to have great communication skills (and a large order of patience) to pull this off. This could also be a great solution if they took turns using the computer.

If not, this is the classic server/terminals archeitecture. The Microsoft solution is Windows Terminal Server. This would require the one computer to be a server (the computer that the users work on) and each user would need his own "thin" desktop computer. That's how it works on Unix, which I more familiar with. Microsoft has a site for this at:

Hope this helps,

Expert Comment

ID: 7182310
Well it is sort of strange but then again not, just not commonly asked about. The key of course is the concurrent usage.  Thin Client at its essence.

A couple alternate considerations that I have had tucked aways as links figuring to some day need them (this must be the day).

Applica U2
This one has been around some length of time, back in the ISA, Windows95/98, $2000+ per computer days, yes way back to 1998 and 99, ha ha.

The latest brings in PCI technologies and it seems to be ok for Windows2000 but not overtly stated.


This one points out the concurrent usages etc.  The web page is a little thin on complete info but they have some depth in thin client and always responded well to inquires about their products.

There is another one that I don't know alot about but have seen in supply mags and such is


The first two should meet your needs however distance and obstacles between the two is often a major consideration. It's not uncommon for the requestor to want it span several hundred feet and a few walls in between.  A reality check is needed then. <grin>

Hope this helps


Author Comment

ID: 7182649
Thanks for the input. I'm checking the links now. Saving money is an issue, yes, but the real issue, is simplicity, I guess. My client(employer) is just a tad naive(computer illiterate).

The idea is that one person would be working on Word, let's say - and the other on quickbooks. How do you get the full content of the OS/screen available on either monitor and, yet, have TWO cursors/mice/keyboards working on this system - and, paradoxically - not be visible to each other.

This is ridiculous now that I think about it. I'm going to offer another 100 points to anyone who can actually solve this one. Which I will post in an additional link later. The first 100 points still stand for the proposed attempts.

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Author Comment

ID: 7182652
Oh, and to clarify - two monitors/mice/keyboards - but only one brand spanking new Win2K Dell available. No servers allowed.


Accepted Solution

ITsheresomewhere earned 100 total points
ID: 7182683
I guess I'm missing something based on the last comment.

The Windows systems are by nature multitasking, you can open Word and you can open Quickbooks. It has just been that it has been focused on a single pc. However, you can also put dual monitors in via a card, so you could have one Monitor showing one view, and another showing a different view, via multitasking.  The CPU is rarely tied up by any one application for more then a few ticks.

How does a kvm work, multiple pcs all responding to a single kvm box.  Chips and/or software that makes each PC think the one kvm set is it's alone.  It is the added smarts in the kvm box that makes it "work" over just using a plain old a b c d dumb switch.

So in either Applica U2 or SharePro they have just modified a kvm to sort of run backwards and written a software layer to allow the multi input devices to work within the multitasking capabilities of the OS.  Thus making sure each set of devices gives/gets its i/o to just its focused application.  Either will do the job as originally stated.

One computer, multiple concurrent users (no os network or logins) through multiple kvm devices.

The biggest requirement was/is simultaneous, without that you just have a normal PC with user switching and logons. Windows XP has taken that a step further with the Fast User switching that "saves state" of the prior user.

If PCs weren't basically cheap(we are talking less than $500 per seat these days), and Microsoft in the client server network software business they probably would have been driven to multi kvm long ago.  Kind of like the "interests" keeping 80mpg vehicles from being reality.

Now if your going to get into wanting seperate logons, file permissions, etc etc. then your changing the parameters widely and seemingly beyond the level of the proposed user/buyer and thus time to educate the user/buyer.

Did I miss something?


Author Comment

ID: 7183623
No, you got it.

It was me. I hadn't read the links yet and couldn't conceptualize this yet. I'm the idiot.

I'll post a link "points for IT" in this topic area with the extra hundred.

Thanks alot, now I can't legitimately sell these people the network!  :)


Expert Comment

ID: 7184155
That's ok, just glad to have had the info you needed.

I could still sell them a small workgroup network, just because they are going to be depending on one machine.  IF it goes down, for any reason, every one is stopped.  The weak point of the setup is the dependency on the single unit.  Also the actual cost savings vs two machine network may be slight. So in the end it may be a wash with the advantage being you gain insight in a "alternate" that can be added to your bag of solutions.

Hope this all works out well and the important thing is you keep/get a satisfied client.


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