HP Says Thin Clients Are In for 2008

Hewlett-Packard is offering its first thin client PC products and software packages after its $214 million acquisition of Neoware.

Hewlett-Packard believes the sweetest spot of the PC market is also the thinnest.

The company, which remains the world's top PC vendor, is announcing three new thin-client PCs Jan. 24, including a new laptop model and two other standard thin clients that support either Microsoft Windows or Debian Linux.

The three new thin clients mark the first time that HP is rolling out new hardware in this space since it paid $214 million in 2007 for Neoware, a leading designer of thin client computers that offered a range of hardware and software for its customers. The new products also signal HP's willingness to invest in alternative methods of delivering computing to enterprise clients.

"There are a lot of changes taking place in the desktop environment," Klaus Besier, the former CEO of Neoware and now vice president of HP's Thin Client Solutions, told eWEEK. "The desktop is a complex infrastructure and it is not always necessary for all types of users that are out there to have a full blown PC. I think that in business you are finding more and more people in IT and executives looking at that opportunity to simplify the infrastructure."

While thin-client PCs-essentially computers with no moving parts that connect through a network to a centralized server in the data center-remain small compared to the larger market for standard desktop and notebooks, it is a market projected to grow by about 20 percent annually during the next several years, according to IDC. In 2008, HP is projecting that it will sell about one million thin clients into the market. (By comparison, HP shipped a total of 50 million PCs worldwide in 2007.)

In offering more thin clients, HP rolled out a familiar list of benefits thin clients can offer to businesses, including better security, better return on investment, longer lifecycle, easier management and being less of a drain on the electric bill. For example, while HP's most energy-efficient desktop uses about 80 watts of power, an HP thin client uses about 16 watts and makes less noise.