This to me has been the biggest surprise of the quarter. I had not expected great performance from the Thin Clients, and had always thought that they would be for use by the first-time PC users. Well, I have been proved wrong. The solution is good enough even for me, a die-hard computer user, to be using it! I have used a Linux Thin Client for over 2 weeks, with only a single access to Windows. All our Engineering team too has been using the Linux Thin Clients. This has radically “upscaled” my opinion of what the TC-TS project can do for enterprises.
We’ve put together web front-ends and scripts on the server to manage the process of adding new TCs and users. There are still some problems to be resolved like fonts, printing should be WYSIWYG, the occasional crash, zombie processes when a user logs out, etc. But these are within the realm of solvability.
So, now we are beginning to think ahead. In the coming quarter, we want to:
– Move the Marketing team to Linux Thin Clients, and at the same time give them access to Windows applications on demand from their desktop
– Perfect the solution internally. Sometime, in July, we will be ready with a “first-cut product CD” and then we will clean out our existing installation of TC-TS, and reinstall. We will do this till we get everything perfect. This is because before we go out for pilots, we need to have a “repeatable” and clean installation.
– Next, we want to install the TC-TS at 8-10 beta customers in August and September. Take a different set of entities: corporates, schools, engineering colleges, NGOs, buildings (to homes), cybercafes and hotel rooms. We don’t know which would be the best markets to initially aim for, so we are thinking of trying it out in different places and seeing their feedback. We will work with PC sellers / Assemblers / System Integrators in this.
– In parallel, think through the Product Architecture. How can we componentise the different blocks that make up the server? How should we integrate with our Messaging Solution? How can we ensure scalability, such that the solution can work with 30 and 300 users easily? Also, how to ensure upgrades — this is what we are going to have to do multiple times a month since the packages we use will keep evolving.
– One thing which we are also doing is to identify all the potential barriers which would prevent people from switching, and seeing how each of the barriers can be overcome. In particular, its the Windows applications and the MS Office file formats.
So, hopefully, by Sep-end, we will have got initial feedback from some beta customers and have an alpha version of our product ready.