HP’s Thin Clients

San Jose Mercury News writes about “a new device that can replicate a Windows desktop personal computer but is simpler for companies to deploy.”

The HP Consolidated Client is a computer in that it comes with a keyboard, display and mouse. But the machine is a so-called “thin client” because it has no disk drive storage. Rather, it connects over a network to a central computer called a server to access all software.

As such, the machine resembles others being promoted by competitors. Sun Microsystems’ Sun Ray, for instance, works in a similar fashion. But the HP machine differs in that it can run Windows and any Windows software applications, said Nick van der Zweep, director of utility computing at Palo Alto-based HP.

Sitting at an HP Client, workers can log in with a password and immediately gain access to all their personal e-mail and files stored on a specific server “blade,” a small data center computer that is dedicated to individual employees. When someone is not logged in, the server blade is available to do other computing jobs.

Van der Zweep said this kind of computer is more convenient for computer administrators because they no longer need to worry about moving a computer if an employee relocates to another part of a building. Nor do they have to worry about users damaging their machines by loading unauthorized software on them.

It will be interesting to see if HP pushes this aggressively. Like Sun, I think the mistake it is making is that it is tryingto target the developed makrets with these solutions when the real opportunity is to use the thin clients as the base for an affordable computing platform in emerging markets.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.