Thin Clients Are Like Bell Bottoms…

alt…they’re coming back.
Remember the good old days of working with green text that connected back to the “mainframe”?  No hard drives, no internet, no Twiiter.  Then Bill Gates created an OS that would change computing for the next couple of decades with the adoption of the desktop.  Now we’ve gone 360 back to the thin client days.  Although not near the adoption rate of desktops, thin clients are not only growing in popularity (due to their TCO and “green” benefits) but growing in capability.

Quick 101 on thin clients:

That old “mainframe” was what was doing your primary processing for whatever program you were working with.  It was centralized and easy to get to.  The “dumb terminal” was simply an interface from your screen to the mainframe.  More than likely it had no fan, hard drive, little memory and certainly no Blu-ray DVD player.  The downside was you always had to be on the network for it to work.  Remember, it had to have a constant connection to the mainframe.

One of the big reasons for the desktop’s success was it could be ran locally.  No need for a network connection if I want to run a program.  This theory still holds true today.

Thin clients started to make a comeback 8 or so years ago with Microsoft Terminal Services and Citrix.  These setups still had the green and TCO benefits, but the user experience was not that of the desktop experience.  End-users were frustrated that the programs they could run on their desktop wouldn’t work on a thin client.  Microsoft Office would work great, as long as you stayed away from graphics, movies and sounds.  The experience was not a substitute for the desktop hence the lack of tremendous adoption………..until now!

Today’s thin clients are getting closer and closer to being comparable to the desktop experience.  You can watch movies locally or on YouTube.  You can stream audio from Slacker radio.  You can use USB drives.  And you can use VoIP via a softphone application.  Today’s thin client is becoming a more attractive option to IT departments looking to provide basic IT services with little management costs.  You still need that constant connection to the server farm, but your connection options are greater.  For example, LAN, WAN, WiFi or even 3G.

Check out the latest press release on NEC’s thin client product.  And make sure to check out the product itself.  We have a couple of demo units here in the EBC and we have been doing some amazing this with it.

Michael Ballard is the Director of Strategic Marketing for NEC Corporation of America.  You can follow him on Twitter @mballard5574 and @NECEBC.