Eiger, a stripped-down version of Windows XP Professional, is designed for customers who want more security and manageability, but who arent ready or able to upgrade to Windows XP, according to Microsoft officials.
It is not a thin client in the traditional sense. Instead, Microsoft will offer it as an interim, "bridge" solution for enterprise users who ultimately plan to move to XP or Longhorn, officials said.
Steven Bink, a Microsoft certified systems engineer based in Amsterdam, was the first to go public with details about Eiger, when he published specs for the product on his Web site in April.
(Bink also published specs for a counterpart to Eiger, code-named "Monch." Microsoft officials say that Monch is nothing more than a wish-list of features and is not a product under development. Eiger and Monch are names of mountains in Switzerland.)
"We have a set of customers running old PCs and old operating systems – even as old as Windows 95," said Barry Goffe, a Windows group product manager. "These customers are primarily concerned about security, though some also are concerned about improving the manageability and TCO (total cost of ownership) of these systems."
Eiger will bring these users up to par with the level of security provided by XP Service Pack 2, Goffe said. It wont include the XP help and support content, wireless networking support and certain operating services found in XP, however.
Eiger will run on legacy systems with as little as 64MB of RAM, a Pentium-class processor and 500 MB hard drive. Eiger is designed to replace Windows 95, Windows 98 and NT 4 Workstation running on these systems.
Microsofts solution? Provide these enterprise customers with an interim "lean" client – something between the "smart"/fat Windows XP client and the Windows XP Embedded thin client – that will allow them to "preserve their investments in their older PCs," Goffe explained.
Eiger is not yet in beta; Microsoft has provided early bits to a very small group of customers to get initial feedback on the feature set, Goffe said. He said it was "a little early to say" when Microsoft will ship such a release, but the company "would like to get it out as early as possible."