More Computers for Less Money?
You can build a computer center with fewer computers. Compared to typical arrangements, Windows MultiPoint Server (WMS) costs surprisingly less to adopt and maintain, saves electricity, and gives administrators group controls. For NGOs with many different missions, it’s helping people access technology . . . for much less.
MultiPoint Server software allows several people — each with only a monitor, keyboard, and mouse — to have their own virtual desktops, using one host computer. Individual users can work independently, save and share files, customize individual settings, and log in at any station. Unlike more complicated virtualization systems, this software is intended to get you up and running fast. Workstations connect directly, via USB, or as thin clients over a network.Is It Right for Me?
Microsoft introduced WMS in classrooms, but this software works in any setting that doesn’t require advanced processing power. Some real-world users include
- the small Skagit Valley, Washington, library that made its computer lab movable,
- the Kenyan refugee camp that needed an affordable option for training displaced people,
- the community center in Seattle’s Chinatown that added the Chinese language pack for its job search, ESL, and software training, and
- the Berkeley job training center that empowers people with disabilities.
So What About Those Savings?
Microsoft commissioned a study (of users in emerging market countries) that indicated 66 percent savings over the one-computer-per-user model:
- Hardware (66 percent saved): Multiple personal computers cost significantly more than the same number of workstations running off one host computer. Older computers can also be used as workstations. Two users can even utilize a single monitor through a split-screen feature.
- Energy Efficiency (67 percent saved): Fewer computers means greater energy efficiency. So being good to the environment actually costs less. Fewer machines also results in less heat buildup, which in warmer weather equals lower air conditioning costs.
- Deployment: With only one computer to load, setting up is faster than having to deploy multiple computers.
- Maintenance (99 percent saved on labor): The administrator only has to maintain a single computer for multiple workstations. Software is loaded or updated on a single desktop, not on a dozen.
Administrators Can Do It All
Beyond savings, the WMS application is intended to make administrators’ lives easier. Administrators can view what users are doing, send out messages to all users, restrict websites, or share tasks on-screen.Get Started Here
Two versions of MultiPoint Server are available for donation from TechSoup Kenya: standard edition hosts up to 10 stations and premium edition hosts up to 20. If more stations and hosts are needed, the administrator is able to manage multiple host computers from a single station. Refurbishers can get WMS for a low cost through the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program.
Top image: Diagram of a Windows MultiPoint Server sample setup (Microsoft)
Second image: Children in a classroom sit in front of monitors and keyboards (Microsoft)
Bottom image: Demo showing a view of the screens of multiple users (Microsoft)