Do You Know Which Windows Embedded Platform Is Best for Your Next Thin Client Device?
March 10, 2011
Alexa Barron takes a closer look at what OEMs should think about when selecting a Windows Embedded platform.

REDMOND, Wash. — March 10, 2011 — On Feb. 14 Microsoft announced Windows Embedded platforms for thin-client devices, and the Windows Embedded News Center (WENC) editorial staff was in the thick of it — outlining several advantages of thin-client computing and how partners HP and Wyse are bringing thin-client devices to life with Windows Embedded Standard 7 and Windows Embedded Compact 7.

We shared the skinny on how Windows Embedded platforms give original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) the ability to create small footprint, highly secure, manageable and cost-effective thin-client devices. And, we examined the huge draws to use Windows Embedded platforms — the interoperability provided by using the familiar interface, ease of use with the existing Microsoft Infrastructure, and the rich user experiences expected and delivered through the Windows Embedded platforms.

Sure, you know the key benefits of building your thin-client devices on Windows Embedded platforms, such as security, reliability and the familiar Windows environment. But then we thought to ourselves, “Wait! There are two platforms — Windows Embedded Standard 7 and Windows Embedded Compact 7 — which should an OEM choose for its device and why?”

To get to the bottom of what exactly makes each of these platforms tick, we reconnected with our friend, Alexa Barron, product manager for Thin Client and Windows Embedded Standard at Microsoft Corp. She agreed to help us take a closer look at what OEMs should think about when selecting a Windows Embedded platform to power the next thin-client device they create. Let’s find out what Alexa had to say.

WENC Editorial Staff: Hi Alexa, great to have you back! So we’ve addressed why OEMs should build their thin-client devices on Windows Embedded platforms in previous articles, but how should they decide between creating a device powered by Windows Embedded Standard 7 versus Windows Embedded Compact 7? What’s the main difference between the two?

Alexa Barron (AB): Thanks for having me back! Good question, I’m glad you asked. Both platforms offer several advantages. It really comes down to what the customer needs. Devices built on Windows Embedded Standard 7 will be able to offer the end user robust and rich user experiences with functions one would expect to come with their PC. This may include access to a local media player and a browser or even the ability to install local applications. Windows Embedded Compact 7 is a lightweight, small- footprint platform for enterprises looking for a dependable, rich remote experience where the latest technology needs are applied to a variety of architectures.

Windows Embedded platforms can be used to create thin client devices to meet any enterprise’s unique needs
Windows Embedded platforms can be used to create thin client devices to meet any enterprise’s unique needs
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WENC Editorial Staff: OK, so if Windows Embedded Standard 7 gives end users an experience they would expect to come with their PC, when should an OEM consider building a thin-client device using Windows Embedded Standard 7? Who or what type of enterprise would be most likely to use that device?

AB: Windows Embedded Stanadrd 7 is a componentized version of Windows 7, which means it has a lot of the great features from that platform. OEMs should use Windows Embedded Standard 7 to build devices for enterprise organizations where the device has a specialized use. For example, financial traders may only need specific applications they need to run while hospital administrators may only need to remote-in to a database for information. For these tasks, a thin-client built on Windows Embedded Standard 7 platform is useful because the user does not need the device for general purpose computing. In addition, because these devices have limited local storage (if any) and have a small footprint, they are a great solution for those enterprises that value security and green IT.

The Windows Embedded Standard 7 platform, like Windows 7, also supports multigesture touch interfaces and applications. This means an OEM could build a device with touch capabilities using Windows Embedded Standard 7, which is pretty cool and not usually associated with your average thin- client device!

WENC Editorial Staff: Earlier you said Windows Embedded Compact 7 is a great solution for companies that want thin clients which have centralized activity. When should an OEM consider building a thin- client device powered by Windows Embedded Compact 7?

AB: Windows Embedded Compact 7 is great for OEMs building devices for connected, centralized computing infrastructures. How you might ask? By using RemoteFX capabilities. RemoteFX comes with Windows Embedded Compact 7T and Windows Embedded Standard 7 Service Pack 1 and will be available with Windows Embedded Compact 7P in Q2. RemoteFX introduces a new set of enhancements to remote desktop computing so workers logging on to their thin client from any location will still experience a rich, local-like desktop environment delivered over the network. RemoteFX enables a full-fidelity virtual desktop experience including support for 3-D applications, portable graphics content such as Silverlight and Flash, and Windows Aero. In addition, with RemoteFX, end users can also use a broad range of USB peripherals in combination with a virtual desktop.

With RemoteFX you can hardly tell applications are connecting remotely.

WENC Editorial Staff: Is there anything else that you think OEMs or businesses should know about Windows Embedded platforms for thin clients?

AB: Whether you’re an OEM building devices meant for a work force of 10 medical professionals in a private practice or for a staff of 2,000 around the globe in call centers and factories, there is a Windows Embedded platform you can use to create a device to meet any enterprise’s unique needs. The staff using the devices will continue to have a rich user experience, IT administrators will lessen security-induced headaches and enterprises will protect their bottom line — what organization wouldn’t love all that?!

Keep up to speed on the latest Windows Embedded news by visiting our Windows Embedded News Center regularly, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @MSFTWEB.

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