As industry talk swirls around Linux desktops versus Windows desktops, Neoware, a leading provider of thin clients, unveiled this week a $199 appliance that runs both.
The Capio One uses Citrix ICA, Microsoft RDP, or Neoware's TeemTalk for host access to mainframes, midrange, Linux, Unix, and Windows systems.
"We give customers a single OS platform, Linux, Win CE, or XP Embedded. But 50 percent of our business is Linux, that is [like] Linux on the desktop and almost all of those customers are connecting to Windows servers, running Windows applications at full native speed," said Mike Kantrowitz, CEO of Neoware.
For added security the operating systems on the appliance are read only, the CEO said.
In addition to the Capio One, Neoware unveiled the Eon product family. The e100, $379, supports Windows CE, XP Embedded, and Linux with swappable operating systems. The e300, $949, is similar but comes with a flat panel display, and the e500, $1,299, is in a Tablet PC form factor.
The company also announced its Open Management strategy that will, in the first round of deployments, allow the thin clients to work with IBM Tivoli, Microsoft Systems Management Server, and Altiris Deployment Solution management tools. Kantrowitz said in the future the company intends to support other enterprise tools from other vendors as well.
"Thin clients [management systems] have been too proprietary. They need to integrate into existing IT systems," Kantrowitz said.
Bob O'Donnell, director of personal technology at IDC, said that despite the fact that thin clients make sense on many levels, less costly to support, more secure and easier to deploy software across the enterprise, there are other issues that are keeping the thin client market "tiny."
"The problem is transitioning from PC to thin clients. More than anything people don’t know what the issues are, how do I make it work and what are the potential gotchas. How do I have to change my infrastructure that is a core issue," said O'Donnell.
Nevertheless, Neoware's Kantrowitz said thin client deployments are growing in the enterprise and becoming more mainstream.
"Ikea is using our appliances worldwide on the floor and in the back office," said Kantrowitz.
Commenting on IDC forecasts that thin clients will grow to maybe 2 percent of the total PC market by 2008, Kantrowitz said. "Apple's market share is only 2.5 percent. We're catching up."
All models are shipping now.