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SF Gate: The NC -- With a Twist `Thin-client computing' may be next big thing

Feb 29, 2000, 00:47 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Norr)

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"As even a casual technology watcher can tell you, the NC, or ``network computer,'' was a big-time bust. What's not so widely known is that an increasing number of major companies, including many in the Bay Area, have enthusiastically adopted a variation on the idea.

"The ungainly name for this new technology -- ``thin-client computing'' -- is hardly a household word, even in Silicon Valley. But for information-technology managers at many large organizations, it's shaping up as the Next Big Thing."

"Ironically, the biggest beneficiary of the thin-client movement could turn out to be Microsoft."

"McNaught is... skeptical about the latest thin-client twist: terminals based on the free Linux OS. Wyse developed one of those, too, he said, but decided not to market it under its own name because demand has been limited.

"Even the cost savings that might be expected from using a free OS turn out to be mostly illusory, according to McNaught, because Linux requires more memory in the client machine, including relatively expensive flash RAM for storing the OS. Compared to those costs, he said, the license fees Microsoft charges for its thin-client systems are ``insignificant.''

"It may be too early to count Linux out of the thin-client market, though. Numerous developers are working on leaner versions of it. Citrix, SCO and other companies already offer ways to access server-based Windows applications from Linux clients, and last month Ottawa-based Corel announced plans to add such capabilities to its desktop-oriented Linux version."

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