If you've invested a lot in Windows hardware and software, you don't need the pain of a platform migration. But you don't have to switch from Windows to deploy thin clients.
Citrix now counts 15 million users in more than 100,000 companies using its WinFrame and MetaFrame servers to share Windows applications over networks--including the Web. One reason those numbers are bound to increase, says IDC's thin-client program director Eileen O'Brien, is that Microsoft has slashed the price of its Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition to about half that of the $400 to $500 per-user cost of the Citrix software. Both should become cheaper as thin clients proliferate on the job. In fact, Microsoft plans to include terminal services in Windows 2000.
And you don't have to change your entire operation to thin clients. You may need a Pentium III PC with 1GB of memory and a terabyte of storage to run your applications, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone in your company does. In fact, analysts and corporate IT managers have recognized that once you achieve basic functionality, extra hardware and software choices can become a productivity sinkhole for many employees.
You don't even have to restrict your purchases to traditional thin-client vendors like IBM, NCD and Wyse. Wintel PCs work on thin-client networks as well. You can still use your Windows machines with the thin clients.
"Even if you want to use eMachines PCs, you could find a systems integrator who would bring in a Windows Terminal Server and set it up for you," says Silver. "There are always people to help, regardless of company size."