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Note: Microsoft no longer offers Windows MultiPoint Server. However, Windows Server now has a MultiPoint Services role that does not have the 20-user limit of MultiPoint Server.
Microsoft's Windows MultiPoint Server is a thin-client or shared-resource-computing software solution in which one host computer is shared by multiple users simultaneously. Basically it allows one computer to serve several people in a lab or library at very low cost and with minimum maintenance.
TechSoup and InterConnection, one of our Refurbished Computer Initiative partners, teamed up to supply a group of nonprofits and libraries with everything they would need to set up a MultiPoint Server lab in their environment. In most cases, we sent them the instructions, hardware, and software they'd need and then stood back and watched how the installation went. We did periodic check-ins on how the MultiPoint Server system held up under use so here is a case study from one YMCA site.
YMCA of Greater Seattle's Kirkland Teen program was one of our test sites. It is one of 200 program sites in this very large and active YMCA. It serves an estimated 84,000 children and teens, so we hoped that this lab would be a serious test of a MultiPoint Server lab's resilience.
The Kirkland Teen program in Bellevue, Washington is run by Emily Smith who is their Youth Development Director. She was one of our most avid testers because they really needed more capacity for their after school computer lab. Emily elected to introduce the new MultiPoint Server lab carefully to the kids before going full throttle.
Here's what InterConnection and TechSoup supplied to them as part of the 8-station donation:
Installation Date: Dec 7, 2012
Existing after school lab IT system the new Multipoint Server system replaces: 5 Pentium IV desktops with CRT monitors
Charles Brennick and Dennis Fisher from InterConnection did the installation in this case due to prior commitments by the YMCA staff. Installation took about a half hour to set up all stations and get then connected to the Internet. Connecting up to the Internet is sometimes difficult, but in this case the YMCA had wireless broadband so it was very easy.
This lab uses their computers in the following ways:
The program is planning to add additional software. Their youth users have a strong interest and talent in editing, graphic design, video, and photography.
Day-to-day use problems:
The YMCA participants did complain of "slow Internet" or "trouble loading," especially using high-density videos or photos. In particular, they found that Flash-heavy websites loaded slowly in some of our other test installations.
The YMCA staff reported finding MultiPoint Server administration of the system to be very easy.
Recommendations to Others from YMCA of Greater Seattle:
Emily recommended MultiPoint Server to YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and libraries. She found that the efficiency of maintaining one computer makes troubleshooting much easier. She also expects that MultiPoint Server labs will be more cost-effective and energy-efficient for her programs.
Image: Photo of Emily Smith of YMCA of Greater Seattle, photo by Charles Brennick
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.