Attendees at Spring Comdex in Chicago this week who inspect demonstrations of Microsoft's Windows Terminal Server (WTS), code-name Hydra, may find that the price of Microsoft's thin-client solution is not particularly thin.
The extra costs of a Windows NT Workstation license requirement, a per-user licensing model, and the need for a dedicated server may make potential users think twice about adopting Microsoft's proposed thin-client solution.
Comdex will provide a platform for terminal vendors Wyse Technology, NCD, Boundless Technologies, and Tektronix to show off their latest hardware working with WTS beta software and running Windows CE and Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) -- two components that turn a terminal running Citrix's WinFrame into a Windows-Based Terminal.
However, one official with a terminal maker said adding this Microsoft touch to a WinFrame terminal will come at a cost.
"It will be more expensive under [WTS] than it was under WinFrame," the official said.
Microsoft is telling partners that WTS, which is due in June and will be officially named Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, will be priced the same as Windows NT Server -- which includes 10 Client Access Licenses -- and will require an NT Workstation license for each user.
"You get a discount on the server, but not on the NT [Workstation] licenses," said one attendee at Citrix's reseller conference earlier this month, who requested anonymity.
Another jolt could be in store for IT managers who now use WinFrame software and relish Citrix's concurrent licensing scheme. If WinFrame users opt to install Microsoft's WTS, which in essence does the same job as WinFrame but adds the Windows NT 4.0 interface and replaces Citrix's Independent Computing Architecture protocol with Microsoft's RDP, they will find that Microsoft is phasing out concurrent licensing in favor of per-user schemes.
Microsoft is considering honoring those WinFrame contracts until they expire, but eventually will force those shops to switch to per-user deals, sources said.
Solveig Whittle, a Microsoft product manager, would say only that WTS would be priced "in line with current Windows pricing in a networked PC environment."
Microsoft also is warning potential WTS customers about the first-generation product's limits, sources said -- namely, that it should be a dedicated platform.
"They haven't had time to test any of their server apps on this variant of the NT kernel," said Dwight Davis, an analyst at Summit Strategies, in Kirkland, Washington.
One company that evaluated WTS instead chose to stick with its IBM OS/2 servers and installed IBM's WorkSpace on Demand.
"Hydra is more of an application-level remote-control solution, where you have to beef up your servers or have multiple servers for every 10 or 15 users you put in," said Jon Hamm, vice president of technology at NationsBank, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Supported only by terminal vendors to date, WTS will receive a major shot in the arm later this year when Hewlett-Packard announces plans to sell Windows-Based Terminals, officials said.
SIDEBAR: It Costs to Be Thin
By InfoWorld staff
Windows Terminal Server will have the same price scheme as Windows NT.
NT Server 4.0 with 10 Client Access $1,129
20 additional CALs, upgrade $539
NT Server 4.0 with 10 CALs, upgrade $539
20 additional CALs $339
NT Workstation 4.0 $319
NT Workstation 4.0, upgrade $149