Hewlett-Packard is expanding its thin-client offerings with new devices, greater collaboration with VMware and enhanced manageability.
HP on April 16 unveiled the HP gt7720 Performance Series and HP t5730w and t5630w Flexible Series thin clients, which support Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard, the next generation of Windows XP Embedded.
HP officials said the new devices take advantage of not only the core features on the Microsoft OS-including Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11 and the ability to run applications locally-but also Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol 6.1. The protocol enables thin-client devices to support the latest security and enterprise management technologies from Windows Server 2008.
In addition, HP is incorporating its RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) Enhancements software into its Windows Embedded thin clients as a way of improving users' ability to run Web applications, videos and other files within a virtual desktop environment, officials said. The HP software downloads the processing directly to the thin client, which improves the multimedia experience for the user and reduces the workload on the back-end server, which in turn can improve scalability.
The goal is to create an experience within VMware View environments that is similar to what the user would have on a traditional desktop system. Thin-client computing has been talked about for years as an up-and-coming technology, but one of the issues that has held it back was the lack of a true desktop experience for the user.
HP and VMware also are collaborating to enable users to take advantage of VMware View Manager's universal access features, which will work with HP's RGS software to work in remote desktop sessions.
HP also is preloading HP Client Automation management software on its new thin clients that are based on Windows Embedded Standard. The management software-which also is used with PCs and desktop virtualization infrastructures-enables users to manage both physical and virtual PCs with a single tool.
HP Client Automation is one of four options that users have to manage thin-client infrastructures. Others include HP ThinState, HP Device Manager and Altiris Deployment Manager.
The new thin clients will be available in early May, starting at $499.
Analysts are predicting strong growth for the hosted virtual desktop environment. Gartner in March issued a report predicting that shipments will grow from more than 500,000 units in 2009 to 49 million in 2013. Revenue will jump from about $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion-less than 1 percent of the worldwide professional PC market-in 2009 to $65.7 billion in 2013, which will be about 40 percent of the market.
"PC vendors must prepare for the growth in demand for this client computing architecture by adjusting sales strategies and compensation models or they risk losing expenditure share with enterprise customers," Gartner analyst Annette Jump said in the March 26 report. "Distributed computing has been the dominant client computing architecture for the past 15 to 20 years, but a number of changes in the way users can access applications and client computing capabilities are bringing a number of alternative architectures to the fore."