Join an online community with more than 350,000 members from 150,000+ organizations, where you can ask questions and get advice.
TechSoup hosts free weekly webinars on a variety of topics, from cloud computing to fundraising to social media and tech strategy.
Thinking about updating software, investing in new computers, or deploying a network or server? Our IT consulting services can help!
Close this window
Windows MultiPoint Server (WMS) is a special version of the Windows Server
operating system that allows multiple users to simultaneously share one
computer. In this blog post, I'll compare costs and energy usage for a WMS setup versus a conventional setup in which every user has a laptop or desktop
A WMS computer system
has less upfront hardware costs, as well as less maintenance and software costs. It also
uses a lot less electricity than a conventional multiuser setup.
A WMS system provides an overall cost and energy
savings of 66 percent compared to a traditional 1:1 computing environment.
Table: Cost and Energy
Comparison — Traditional 1:1 Computer System versus Windows MultiPoint
line overall savings in the table above very much agrees with Forrester Research’s
results in their Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 study.
They found that the largest cost savings categories
are hardware (62 percent of total savings), energy (29 percent of the total cost reduction),
and labor (11 percent).
a conventional computer system, the hardware required is one computer, monitor, keyboard,
and mouse for each user. With WMS, only one computer is needed to
support up to 20 users.
WMS system requires one high-end computer, such as a desktop with an i7
processor, to support up to 20 stations. Hardware with less processing capabilities can be used, such
as a computer with a Core 2 Duo, but the number of stations that it can support is reduced.
Each station served by WMS requires a monitor,
keyboard, and mouse. The least
expensive connection option is direct connect, which means the monitor’s cable
is directly connected to the desktop.
A small USB hub might be required for each station for the keyboard,
mouse, and speakers. These hubs cost
from $5 to $20 per unit.
Another type of connection is a USB video hub. These hubs are connected to the server via USB and generally have a VGA port on the hub. USB video hubs cost from $50 to $80 per unit.
Thin clients offer another form of
connecting to WMS. They can be networked and are best suited for large
offices or classrooms. They cost
from $150 to $200 per unit.
WMS can also use legacy hardware, such as old laptops or
desktop computers. This means a laptop or desktop with an older operating system can be
repurposed as an access device, running Windows Professional, and extend the life
of the laptop or desktop. Repurposing old
hardware is another costs savings benefit of WMS.
only one computer is needed to power a system that serves multiple users, WMS reduces energy
consumption and is regarded as a green IT technology.
desktop computer requires 60 to 250 (average 155) watts, depending on its level
of processing. Monitors require 15 to 70 watts (average 41). Combined average is 196 watts.
thin client, by comparison, uses about 2.5 watts, which is about one-sixtieth the power consumed by a desktop computer and roughly one-tenth the
wattage of a laptop computer.
It’s very difficult to calculate software
costs because Microsoft offers several different licensing options, and users
can elect to put different software on their computer systems.
Long story short,
though, WMS saves licensing costs because it
doesn’t require putting Windows on each client station.
For a conventional computer system, an operating
system must be purchased for each computer. This can cost up to $199 for Windows
Professional commercial licensing, for example.
Both WMS Standard
Edition and Premium
Edition require a server license for the host computer.
Each user station
that connects to WMS must have two types of client access
licenses (CALs): a WMS CAL and a Windows Server CAL. These two
CALs, licensed per user station, are available as a single
donation through TechSoup.
In all licensing arrangements, CALs are much
less expensive than the licensing for the server. If the host computer is used
as a user station and not just for administration, organizations must have both
a WMS CAL and a Windows Server CAL for it as well.
Licensing for Microsoft Office costs essentially the same as on a conventional 1:1 computer system. Each station
needs its own full license.
Only specific versions of Office will run on a WMS system. They are:
All of them are available as donations on TechSoup for eligible nonprofits
and libraries. And WMS Standard
Edition and Premium
Edition are available to nonprofits and libraries on TechSoup as well.
savings for WMS are simple. The fewer computers to maintain, the lower the maintenance costs. Most
users will be connected with devices that have no moving parts.
to the market research organization TechAisle,
maintenance costs per computer are between $326 and $401 (average
$364). These costs include the cost of repair and ongoing
maintenance for desktops over three years old. Maintenance costs tend to increase as computers get
common maintenance issues, in order of leading cause of failure, are software
crashes, power supply failure, hard drive failure, network card failure, and
finally, motherboard failure.
any hardware failure, a computer can have degraded performance as a result of security issues
or not getting proper updates. Degraded performance results in
loss of productivity and therefore additional business costs.
WMS significantly reduces maintenance costs, since only one computer requires
maintenance. The devices connected to the server, either USB hub or thin
client, have no moving parts and require no maintenance.
maintenance advantage of WMS is it can be easily accessed
remotely, and tech support does not need to be onsite to repair a station that
might support up to 20 users.
pretty easy case to make that WMS is an excellent solution
for nonprofits, schools, libraries, and computer labs that are on limited
The cost savings, energy savings, and ease of maintenance make it a
solution that I’d urge more people to consider. It may be that the age of thin
client computing has finally arrived.
to Charles Brennick from InterConnection
in Seattle for calculating the cost and energy comparisons above.
Jim - An excellent contribution. We've been installing Multipoint servers for our clients since late 2010. It's an amazing product for small and larger organizations. It is also highly integrated into Microsoft's small business line of servers.