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Windows MultiPoint Server Frequently Asked Questions

Windows MultiPoint Server Frequently Asked Questions

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 Sometimes I find that it helps to have some plain language questions and answers on a technology that is new to me, so here are some basics on what Microsoft's Windows MultiPoint Server is and how it works. I’d like to thank my colleague Charles Brennick from InterConnection in Seattle for helping me with these FAQs.

What is Windows MultiPoint Server?

Windows MultiPoint Server (WMS) virtualizes Windows on each connected monitor and supports multiple users at the same time, each working independently using their own monitor, keyboard and mouse. There are currently two versions of Windows MultiPoint Server – a Standard Edition that hosts up to 10 stations, and a Premium Edition that hosts up to 20 stations. Microsoft has a very clear language description of how a Window MultiPoint Server environment works.

What are the benefits in using MultiPoint Server for a computer lab compared to individual computers?

A computer lab or office system using Windows MultiPoint Server is more energy efficient and usually lower cost than using individual computers. A MultiPoint lab has fewer initial hardware costs, less ongoing maintenance, and lower software costs. It is an ideal solution for schools, libraries, small nonprofit offices, and computer labs that are on limited budgets. 

What are hardware recommendations for MultiPoint Server?

Windows MultiPoint Server requires a host computer with 64-bit processor, with sufficient processing power (CPU) and memory capacity to meet the performance demands of the number of simultaneous users and applications used.  The minimum computer specifications are a 2 GHz (or higher) dual-core x64 processor, 2 GB RAM and 32 GB available hard-disk space.

The more stations the MultiPoint Server system has to serve, the more RAM it needs, and we also advise using a more powerful host computer if possible like a Core 2 Quad, or Core i3,  or Core i5, or Core i7 processor. Refurbished host computers run a Windows MultiPoint Server environment very well.

How can I get Windows MultiPoint Server?

Windows MultiPoint Server software is ordinarily available through academic or commercial volume licensing. Cost depends on the version purchased, either Standard or Premium, and on the license type, either Academic or Commercial. It is also available as a donation product on TechSoup for eligible nonprofits and libraries.

What Windows MultiPoint Server Licensing Do I Need? 

The licensing for Windows MultiPoint Server is a bit complicated. Both MultiPoint Server   Standard Edition and Premium Edition requires a server license for the host computer.

Each user station that connects to MultiPoint Server must have two types of client access licenses (CALs): a MultiPoint Server CAL and a Windows Server CAL. These two CALs, licensed per user station, are available as a single donation through TechSoup. If the host computer is used as a user station and not just for administration, organizations need both a MultiPoint Server CAL and a Windows Server CAL for it as well.

How do I install MultiPoint Server?

Windows MultiPoint Server is a Windows Operating System and is much like installing Windows 7 on a computer.  The software is ordinarily downloaded from the Internet and burned to a CD or loaded on a flash drive.

What software can I run on MultiPoint Server?

MultiPoint Server will run 32-bit software applications. If multiple users will access the software it will require a volume license or open license. If the software is assigned to the computer, such as antivirus software, it does not require a volume license. One must read the licensing agreement to determine its licensing type.

In the case of Microsoft Office, only specific versions of Office will run on a Windows MultiPoint Server system. The are:

All of them are available as donations on TechSoup for eligible nonprofits and libraries. A separate license is needed for each station.

What access devices can I use with MultiPoint Server?

Each client station uses an "access device" that connects to the host computer. Each access device allows to have their own monitor, keyboard, mouse, and often headphones. Access devices are essentially small boxes that house all the connectors.

They often connect via USB cables, but some of them can connect using Ethernet cable. It is also possible to connect them to the host computer using video cables that plug in to a special video card on the host computer that has multiple plug-ins. Older computers (laptops or desktops) can also be used as thin client type access devices in a Windows MultiPoint Server environment. There are many manufacturers of access devices and they range in cost from around $50 on up.

 

What are some of the other benefits of Windows MultiPoint Server?

  • Quieter Operations:  Fewer fans and computer noises equal a quieter office, lab, or classroom.
  • Standardized Experience:  All users have the same operating system, the same software, and hardware.
  • Excellent Administration: Windows MultiPoint Server enables users to direct and control activity on each station. The administrator can see desktop thumbnails of each workstation, broadcast announcements, push files, and block websites and activities.
    • Administrators can instantly block a station, close or open a station's applications, project one station to another and limit website browsing.
    • Projecting a single station's desktop to one or all stations
    • Locking the keyboard and mouse of station and displaying a message
    • Remotely opening and/or closing applications
    • Restricting internet browsing to a specific list of sites or blocking browsing to a specific list of sites
  • Less Heat:  Using just one efficient computer compared to multiple computers significantly reduces heat in the room. This is an important benefit for warm environments.
  • Split Screen Viewing: WMS has the ability to split the screen on monitors and create a separate Windows environment for two users. This means one monitor can be used by two users, further reducing hardware costs.

 What are some downsides or things I should know about Windows MultiPoint Server?

  • VIDEO: Windows MultiPoint Server has limited Internet video capability and is generally not recommended for settings where all stations use full screen video at the same time. As long as the MultiPoint minimum hardware recommendations are followed and native 360p video is used then all users can run video simultaneously with good quality.

    Playing high-definition or full screen Flash video uses computer processing resources and since these resources are shared among user it will result in choppy and low quality video if multiple users are running video at the same time. 
  • USB Ports: Station hubs usually have a limited number of USB ports, sometimes only enough for the keyboard and mouse. If users need USB ports for saving documents to flash drives or other USB needs, a hub with additional ports will be required.
  • SOFTWARE LIMITATIONS: Certain software programs like Photoshop or other graphics editing software requires significant processing and memory resources. These programs will either run slowly on MultiPoint or not run at all.
  • DRIVERS: Windows MultiPoint Server uses a 64-bit processor and drivers for peripherals, such as printers and scanners. All these must be a 64-bit version. Not all peripheral manufacturers offer a 64-bit version, which limits the number of available peripherals and might make existing peripherals unavailable.

For More Information

Image: Microsoft

  • If any individual wants to get connected with this Multipoint server, What he will has to do? Is it possible for him to get connected? Will he be connect with a licensed windows software?

  • Hi Syed,

    I'm wondering if you mean connecting a MultiPoint system to the internet? If so, the host computer basically plugs in to an internet router via ethernet cable or wirelessly if the host computer has that capability.

    The client stations then get their internet from the host computer. It can be done simply or in more complicated ways if you want to set it up with user accounts. Find more on that at:

    technet.microsoft.com/.../wms-2011-supported-network-configurations.aspx

    -jim

  • If we had a bunch of old desktops &/or laptops to use as clients, what would be the difference between using Windows Multipoint Server vs just connecting everything as a Peer-to-peer network (through the router?) and using the server's resources that way?