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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.
Computer Technologies Program in Berkeley, California, was one of our test sites. They provide people with disabilities with training in IT skills useful for employment. They also operate a PC refurbishment program called their Computer ReUse Center, which refurbishes 200 computers per year. This program provides IT technical support training to clients and revenues to the larger program. They also offer low-cost computer repair to the public. Computer Technologies Program has an employment placement rate of 80 percent and has served as the model for technical training programs. Its IT job training model has been replicated at more than 50 locations internationally.
TechSoup and InterConnection teamed up to supply Computer Technologies Program with everything they would need to set up a bank of MultiPoint Server–based public-access computers.
This was a four-station donation:
Installation date: December 18, 2012
This was a new installation to augment existing training labs. Computer Technologies Program has 40 PCs, which are separated on to two different networks - one for staff and one for students. Each network has its own file server. They have a T1 Internet connection (10 MB up / 100 MB down).
This was an interesting installation because, at my request, two non-technical people did this one. Business Manager Christine Tabony and a trusty volunteer gamely opened up all the boxes and straightaway began laying things out and plugging them in. They laid the lab out in a row, so immediately had some trouble with short USB cables. Like most of our test sites, they didn’t initially use the instructions to connect up the hardware. It took them about an hour to connect all the hardware, and then an additional 20 minutes to configure the software. They had no problems getting the Internet to work. They just plugged an ethernet cable into the server and it went live.
This was our final test installation, so we had fewer problems than with the others since we had a much-improved set of instructions. Once Christine started using our step-by-step instructions, the installation went smoothly. I already mentioned that some of the USB cables were too short for the in-line configuration, but Christine was able to adjust things to make everything fit.
Once the new system was up and running, former student and current volunteer Frank Schulz sat down and began testing it. Other testers came in soon after. I really like this kind of place, where everyone seems to have a set of tools and just likes tinkering. When I mentioned that we found that Flash-heavy websites sometimes bogged down the system, our testers were immediately on it. They all found highly animated websites and managed to slow the system down considerably.
The new MultiPoint Server system is mainly used for open access to the Internet for students, volunteers, and visitors. They routinely check email and access SaaS cloud services. Operation Manager Alex Tabony observed that graphically intensive websites continued to slow the system down.
Alex Tabony reported that the new MultiPoint Server system required no effort to maintain.
Alex recommends MultiPoint Server to any nonprofit that has a need for open access computers.
Image: Jim Lynch
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