Windows Thin PC - clarification

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I am trying to understand what Windows Thin PC is exactly?  It seems it's software I install on a computer that gives the user access to a stripped down and locked down Windows 7 setup.  However there are all kinds of references to VDI with it so I'm not sure if there's a server element involved?  For instance it discussing licensing there's this phrase that MS uses to describe Thin PC - "And since these PCs retain their existing SA coverage, they do not need any additional Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licensing for Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Suites." It's the VDI business in that sentence that makes me curious - as I thought VDI was server-related - Windows 7 images that you tossed out from a server via RDS/TS. So do I have to build some kind of server-based Windows 7 image in order for Thin PC to work?  And given that I can have clients access Windows 7 images through RDS/TS or can just give people pure RDS/TS sessions in XP, what would Windows Thin PC buy me?

Elucidation would be appreciated.
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Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Windows Thin PC is an initiative from Microsoft (MS) to perusade corporation to switch to a new form of win 7 platform without disposing the current investment on desktop computers which have been purchased before win 7 is introduced.

It is still in a trial stage and MS try to convince coperation that by adopting a thin client approach, the old equipment are still having values in transforming the old computer into thin clients running win 7. Of course, such form of win 7 cannot replace desktop version of win 7 and the new form of win 7 depends on the acquistion of system centre hardware and software as the new form of win 7 will be centrally managed by system centre.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/enterprise/solutions/virtualization/products/thinpc.aspx

I think that corpration will take a wait and see approach unless there are a massive adoption of win 7 as many corporations are still using win xp.

Author

Commented:
Thanks.
Have you worked with the beta or whatever they have out there now?

As far as your comment:
"the new form of win 7 depends on the acquistion of system centre hardware and software as the new form of win 7 will be centrally managed by system centre."

I didn't read anything about it requiring 'system centre' - I thought that was just what they considered to be a better option to manage as opposed to manual methods. Do you have a link that states it's necessary to have System Centre.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
First of all, Windows Thin PC cannot run on its own as it is a server-based technology just like other thin client initiatives such as Citrix.

I have downloaded the trial and will try it out later. But, from the link below, I noticed that a Hyper V server is necessary for Windows Thin PC to run. So, you are correct. System Center is not a MUST, but it will be better to manage VDI with System Center on a large scale deployment of Windows Thin PC.

http://www.ms4u.info/2011/03/running-windows-thin-pc-ctp-on-hyper-v.html

Apart from the above, the information may be useful for you:-

Install and configure System Center to leverage all of the capabilities of Hyper-V. By using this comprehensive set of integrated management tools, customers can keep complexity at a minimum and streamline operations. The common management environment reduces training, ensures uniform policy application and simplifies maintenance by leveraging existing software, personnel, and IT management processes.

http://www.ts.avnet.com/uk/vendors/microsoft/assets/microsoft_hyper.pdf

Customers without active SA coverage on their PCs can get SA by purchasing a Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription, which includes SA benefits such as WinTPC. Although Windows VDA can be purchased for any device, only devices with an existing Windows client OS (Professional / Business, Enterprise, Ultimate) qualify for WinTPC.

Source: http://premnair.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/microsoft-windows-thin-pc-rc-turns-old-pcs-into-thin-clients/

In a nutshell, Windows Thin PC is a Software as a Service (SaaS) business initiatives from Microsoft and it hopes to capture a new stream of income from Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription. For their existing customers under SA, Windows Thin PC creates add-on value for the SA whereas for the new customers, MS try to convince them Windows Thin PC have competitive edge over other Virtualization service provider such as Citrix and hopes in the long run, they can convert the customers to deploy Windows 7 embedded OS technology.
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Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the additional info. As far as needing HyperV, I don't think it's needed as well. The link you gave me was just somebody trying to run it in HyperV - as opposed to running full Windows 7 for instance.  The point I got from the reading is that you install it like any other OS on a local workstation - it's just thinner and you 'pump' it up by connecting it to RDS and you will then get RemoteFX for video streaming and also apps like Office which it seems can't be installed on it. Let me know how your install goes - you'll know right away whether you need HyperV or not.

Author

Commented:
Any further info from the install that clarifies my questions?
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Sorry for not being able to do a test for your question.

But, if you read the links below, you will be able to see that windows 7 thin pc will not be able to work on its own. You need a virtualization server to make it work and vmware is not able to act as the virtualization server for windows 7 thin pc.

http://m.developerfusion.com/news/116609/windows-thin-pc-arrives-in-ctp-stepping-stone-between-full-clients-and-virtualisation/

http://download.microsoft.com/download/B/4/9/B49ED982-2FDE-43EC-8F85-1CE4077A71F5/WinTPC%20FAQ%20v1%200.pdf

Author

Commented:
I understand that Windows 7 will not work/do much on its own - it's built to connect to a RDS/TS where the apps are - it's a thin client. So if I want streaming video or Office I have to have a server that provides it.  However I don't need a special server to install it as far as I can tell. I've watched the videos on Youtube of people installing it - they just install like regular Windows 7 - stick CD in and start clicking.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
You cannot access Office apps in RDS/TS with windows 7 thin pc. Streaming video shall be fine.

Author

Commented:
As you can't install Office on ThinPC from what I'v read, what would be the use of ThinPC if you couldn't access Office products on a TS/RDS either? I think I would like to invite other Experts into this question as we need somebody who's tried this to give us the benefit of their experience.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Accoridng to the FAQ, it says:-

Can I run applications on Windows Thin PC?
Yes, you can only run applications that fall into one of the following
categories:
• Remote desktop clients
• Management
• Security
• Media players

You need to run cloud based Office 365.

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2010/oct10/10-19office365.mspx
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
OR

According to leew, it says:-

"Office 2003 Retail and Volume License versions could be used on a Terminal Server.  With Office 2007 (and 2010), only Volume Licenses can be used on Terminal Servers (Remote Desktop Servers).  You need to buy volume license versions.

DISCLAIMER: Licensing advice offered here is a "best effort" and based on the understanding of the respondents. Licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or may misunderstand them. Further, licenses can differ by country and/or region and what we understand to be true in our region could be false in your region. "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a software audit.  All licensing questions should be confirmed with the appropriate licensing authority (the maker of the software/issuer of the license). "

Source: http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/Remote_Desktop-Terminal_Services/Q_26603521.html
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
The supporting information is as follows:-

....There is a new Software Assurance benefit that permits computers to access Office on the RDS server whether they are owned by the company or by the employees, you will need to get a license through volume licensing with Software Assurance.
For example, you will need 10 Office licenses with SA for an organization with 10 computers (home or business) access 10 RDS sessions....

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/b/uspartner_ts2team/archive/2010/08/16/licensing-office-on-remote-desktop-services.aspx

In short, Office 2010 cannot be installed inside Windows 7 Thin PC but could be access via RDS if sufficient Office licenses with SA are purchased according to the number of concurrent RDS sessions.

Author

Commented:
Here is what I gather and I have gotten confirmation from an MS blog:

you install Thin PC on a computer like any other Windows OS

once installed however it is very restricted so for instance you can't install Office on it but that's not really a shortcoming as Thin PC was designed to be a richer RDP client than simple RDP - for example it has RemoteFX capabilities

just as with RDP the majority of applications the user employs are installed on a Terminal Server

there is no need for any special deployment tools to deploy Thin PC e.g. System Centre - if you wish you could use them for desktop management purposes but you don't need them in order to get the full functionality for any Thin PC workstation

As far as your comments about virtualization servers and cloud based Office I don't think they apply at all. I think if you wanted to see that for yourself  there are quite a few Youtube videos that show how Thin PC operates.





"you install Thin PC on a computer like any other Windows OS"

As your OP stated Windows Thin PC is a stripped-down version of Windows 7 with a couple of custom tweaks.


"once installed however it is very restricted so for instance you can't install Office on it but that's not really a shortcoming as Thin PC was designed to be a richer RDP client than simple RDP - for example it has RemoteFX capabilities"

I might re-word that to say Windows Thin PC supports RemoteFX.  It's ability to support RemoteFX is useless if it is not connecting to a server that uses RemoteFX.  It makes use of the server capabilities rather than introduces those capabilities itself...


"just as with RDP the majority of applications the user employs are installed on a Terminal Server"

Terminal Services/Remote Desktop Services; yes.


"there is no need for any special deployment tools to deploy Thin PC e.g. System Centre - if you wish you could use them for desktop management purposes but you don't need them in order to get the full functionality for any Thin PC workstation"

That is my understanding; yes.


"As far as your comments about virtualization servers and cloud based Office I don't think they apply at all. I think if you wanted to see that for yourself  there are quite a few Youtube videos that show how Thin PC operates."

I am fairly sure you need to have Hyper-V running on the Host for the Guests to be able to use RemoteFX.  

I don't have any experience running RemoteFX natively on Windows 7 SP1 however (I've only ever virtualised it as part of a VDI deployment).

 

Author

Commented:
lamaslany:

Ok for all your comments except for:

"I am fairly sure you need to have Hyper-V running on the Host for the Guests to be able to use RemoteFX. "

Is it not more the case that you need RDS running on the server as oppsed to HyperV? I thought the whole idea of RemoteFX was to give 'thin' users a more desktop type experience - if they could stream video using the standard desktop then with the combination of  Windows Thin PC, remote FX and RDS on the server, they can also stream video as if they were 'thick'.  

It may be that you could virtualize the RDS server with HyperV but that's a bonus feature - it's the richer connection for thin computers that is the major innovation.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
If I am free tomorrow, I will try to install windows 7 thin pc in one of our old laptop to see whether I could make rdp session to my vista business desktop pc in office.
"Is it not more the case that you need RDS running on the server as oppsed to HyperV? I thought the whole idea of RemoteFX was to give 'thin' users a more desktop type experience - if they could stream video using the standard desktop then with the combination of  Windows Thin PC, remote FX and RDS on the server, they can also stream video as if they were 'thick'.  

It may be that you could virtualize the RDS server with HyperV but that's a bonus feature - it's the richer connection for thin computers that is the major innovation.
"

I do understand that RDSH doesn't need Hyper-V... :)

Hyper-V is a pre-requisite for the RemoteFX role service - at least it is when I have tried to install the role service in the past.  My most recent installation was early last week.

As I stated I have no experience getting RemoteFX working in a non-virtualised scenario so this requirement may be specific to virtualised scenarios.
Couple clarifications:
1. The idea of Windows Thin PC is the same as the previous Windows FLP. Now they are making Thin PC as a light OS that you will use on older hardware to access applications and/or desktops REMOTELY. This means the EULA prevents you for example, of running Office apps locally.
2. RemoteFX is available both with Windows 7 Hosted Desktops (in this case the hosted desktop MUST exist as a VM under Hyper-V) and of course Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 with RDSH enabled. In this case as far as I remember the RDSH must be running on physical hardware AND must have a supported GPU.
3. What ThinPC gives you is a more modern platform that is supposed to support all the latest features found on the RDP stack (with and without RemoteFX) what at one point we know Windows XP will lag behind (i.e. no RemoteFX for clients on XP).

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all for the clarifications.

tsmvp:
You wrote: "2. RemoteFX is available both with Windows 7 Hosted Desktops (in this case the hosted desktop MUST exist as a VM under Hyper-V) and of course Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 with RDSH enabled. In this case as far as I remember the RDSH must be running on physical hardware AND must have a supported GPU."

So in the case of Windows 2008 R2 SP1 with RDSH are you saying I can get remote FX working between ThinPC and the server running RDSH without HyperV?

+++++++++++++++++

Also a while back I did a bit of research on HyperV/RemoteFX/RDSH and from what I read it seems you can do RemoteFX to am RDSH VM utilizing  the video card on the host. Here are the articles I found that I thought indicated that.  

http://www.petri.co.il/configuring-remotefx-hyper-v-r2-sp1.htm
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff817602(WS.10).aspx

Feel free to read through if you have time and let me know if I read them correctly.


From this article:
http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/brianmadden/archive/2010/07/13/microsoft-remotefx-is-now-available-via-public-beta.aspx

It seems RemoteFX will work with RDSH no matter if it is virtual or physical. The difference is if there is no GPU available, it will do all the computing required using the CPU and that means less users per server basically.

So if you use RDSH you can do it anyway you want I guess and Hyper-V is not a requirement in that case. :-)

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the Brian Madden article. Apparently there are some video caching cards that are going to be coming out for RemoteFX to deal with the load.  From what I've read you need about 250 Meg of video RAM for every session/monitor - so if you have two monitors you need 500 meg of VRAM.  If you have a CAD type environment with 50 users you would need a heck of a lot of video RAM - hence the special video caching hardware.
One thing is the video memory, the other is the encoding, as far as I know. They are releasing RemoteFX Offload cards to offload the encoding to these, to reduce the CPU/GPU requirements. But VRAM will still be an issue, depending on how many clients you plan to have.
I am not sure if with all these requirements, if it is not cheaper to use XenDesktop with HDX 3D.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP

Author

Commented:
It sure seems like a stretch to me to make all the video go through the server  when the average workstation comes with so much horsepower including graphics  to begin with and the minimum is increasing with time.  What was the problem  again?
I guess the idea is to really be able to deliver the same PC-like experience no matter where you are.
As someone that now uses VDI 100% of the time I can say it is indeed a great solution for my needs but I am no CAD designer so my goals/needs are different.
Just being able to travel like I did a couple weeks ago with my iPad only and connect remotely to my desktop using a big widescreen monitor and bluetooth keyboard was simply awesome. Carrying no weight (as the laptop was not with me) and not being bothered by TSA was a complete new experience for me travel wise.
So resuming: I can understand where they are going but for sure it is not the silver bullet. :-)

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP

Author

Commented:
Glad you're getting something out of VDI but I'm not sure what you mean by using the Ipad 'to connect remotely to my desktop using a big widescreen monitor' - aren't you using the Ipad screen when you do that?  Also does the TSA not check IPads?
Nope, I use the iPad screen as a touchpad and using its VGA cable I hook it up to a monitor.
So far the iPad is 'TSA' friendly so I have no hassles whatsoever at airports. Not to mention on the plane itself, not having to fight for a place to leave a computer bag or similar carry on item.
Trust me, I only realized how great it is to travel without a laptop when I left mine at home.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
Commented:
I install on an old ThinkPad notebook.

Windows 7 Thin PC can remote desktop to my Vista Desktop without any problem.

Details of the system information of Windows 7 Thin PC is shown below.

 Windows 7 Thin PC

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all.

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