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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.
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 then did check-ins on how the MultiPoint Server system held up under use.
Burlington Public Library was one of our test installation sites. It is a medium-sized library about 60 miles north of Seattle in northern Washington State. We worked with library director, Maggie Buckholz, and Janet Royer, the library system administrator and circulation supervisor. Burlington Library has around 600 patrons who use library computers each day. The library also offers free WiFi, a laptop checkout program, and 30 public access computers. Maggie Buckholz told us that the library is probably more restrictive than many libraries, which had an effect on the MultiPoint Server system we donated.
TechSoup and InterConnection teamed up to supply the Burlington Library with everything they would need to set up a 7-station MultiPoint Server-based public access computers.
Installation Date: September 13, 2012
Existing public access IT system the new MultiPoint Server system augmented: 30 Core 2 desktops and P4 desktops. Internet connectivity is via a T1 line. Public access PCs in this library have dedicated uses: some devices are for viewing the catalog, some are general Internet stations, and some are specifically for job searching and employment research.
Jeff Hawes, IT systems admin, and Jesse McCarty, IT technical assistant, worked to together to set up the new system and integrate it into the existing network. They rate themselves as advanced in IT. It took them about a half hour to get the server up and running and one station set up and running. They took an additional day to do final configuration. The library needed a more complex configuration that has different profiles for users (public, job database, and catalog). They actually didn't use or need the instructions we provided at all and found the software easy to work with.
Jeff and Jesse initially had some trouble with the server restarting on its own during installation. They also had some trouble authenticating MultiPoint Server. In experimenting with setting up users, they discovered that multiple people can use the same user account at the same time. However, it creates problems. For example, Mozilla would not open multiple sessions at the same time. The solution was to create user accounts for each station. They also had trouble getting Internet Explorer to work. The solution was to disable the IE security settings. We found this in other test installations.
After the system was up and running, they found that the refresh rate when scrolling down a long web page was sometimes a problem. The screen would be blurry and then clear up.
The biggest problem we encountered among all of our test installations was at this location. Like many larger libraries, Burlington Library uses specialized software that restricts the amount of time people can be on computers and also directs printing to a coin-operated printer. The software they use is Envisionware PC Reservation. They simply could not get PC Reservation to work on the MultiPoint Server system. The solution was to dedicate the MultiPoint Server system to catalog browsing where there is no time limit or printing access.
Intended Use of the New MultiPoint Server System
Burlington Library wanted to use the MultiPoint Server system for all uses, including Internet public access stations, dedicated employment stations, and library catalog kiosks. It turned out that the system was only useful for library catalog kiosk.
Recommendations to Others:
Maggie Buckholz says that she would recommend MultiPoint Server for classroom settings in places that don't need to use software that restricts time on each station and that directs printing to a coin-operated printer.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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