Microsoft claims thin-client OS lead

Microsoft's operating systems ship on more server-client computing terminals than any other, according to a recent study by IDC.

          Microsoft may be considered a PC stalwart by server/client evangelists like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, but the Redmond, Washington-based company's operating systems ship on more server-client computing terminals than any other, according to a recent study by IDC.

          Microsoft on Tuesday paraded findings from IDC and Microsoft's own sales data that shows the company's Windows-based Terminal operating systems ship on 59% of all thin clients.

          Dave Pollon, the lead product manager for Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, says the market for thin clients has expanded over the last several years as aging "green screen" terminals used in retail, hospitality and healthcare environments go to pasture.

          "We see [the client products] as a natural extension of the [Windows] product line. Another way for a customer to deploy a Windows desktop for environments that only require a terminal," explained Pollon.

          The co-author of the IDC study, Ann Bui, a research analyst for IDC, says that while Microsoft holds the lion's share of the client operating system (OS) market, the company won't relax its PC OS development.

          "I don't think they, or we, hold the view that thin clients will surpass PCs anytime in the near future. They are just a viable alternative for the knowledge worker who doesn't require a whole lot of computing power," she said.

          Thin client terminals, which provide a simple interface to applications hosted on a server, are manufactured by companies such as Wyse Technology and Acer America.

          Last November, Larry Ellison, CEO of networking software company Oracle and an outspoken promoter of client/server computing, charged Microsoft with distributing complexity with its generally PC-centric Windows operating system, calling it a "fat client."

          "You don't distribute complexity, you don't put complexity in as many places as possible," Ellison said during his keynote address at Fall Comdex 2000. "We're on the way to converting that desktop personal computer into an appliance as quickly as possible."

          "He must not have known about this," Pollon said.

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