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Note: Microsoft no longer offers Windows MultiPoint Server. However, Windows Server now has a MultiPoint Services role that has no limit on the number of users.
Setting up Windows MultiPoint Server isn't difficult. But it usually requires some additional hardware to connect your user stations (keyboard, mouse, monitor) to the host computer. These additional hardware components are called access devices.
Charles Brennick, Founder and Director of Interconnection, shares his advice for selecting the right access devices for your Windows MultiPoint Server environment.
What is an Access Device?
Access devices connect user stations to the host computer. There are three ways to connect: direct connection, via a USB video hub, and via a local area network (LAN). You can mix these methods and arrange the user stations in the best way to suit the space and layout of the room.
In a direct connection setup, you plug user station monitors directly into the host computer's video display ports.
What you need to know about direct connections:
What you'll need:
USB Video Hub Connections
USB video hubs (also called multifunction hubs or zero clients) connect user stations to the host computer via the host computer's USB port. You plug the user station monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other hardware into the USB video hub, then plug the hub into the host computer's USB port.
What you need to know about USB video hubs:
What you'll need for each user station: a USB video hub to connect monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals (such as speakers) to the host computer.
User stations can also be thin clients or traditional desktops or laptops connected to the host computer using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) via the LAN. Thin clients are small devices that can be networked but do not have hard drives. They rely on the host computer's processing power.
Older desktops or laptops can also be used as user stations. This is a great way to extend the life of older computers that may not be powerful enough to run modern software.
What you need to know about LAN connections:
What you'll need for each user station: connection to the LAN via a switch, router, firewall, or other network device, and the capacity to connect via RDP. Thin client devices often come with basic software pre-installed, including RDP capability.
If you're repurposing an old computer, you'll need to install software to allow you to connect via RDP. If you have Microsoft Software Assurance coverage, ThinPC is a good option. Other software products, such as NComputing’s VSpace Client, Rdesktop, and Virtual Box can also be used.
Recommended Access Devices
USB hubs and USB video hubs:
We used Plugable and NComputing devices in our pilot installations. YMCA of Greater Seattle, the La Conner Regional Library, and the Burlington Public Library were a few of our pilot organizations. See how they're using Windows MultiPoint Server, and what they learned while setting up their systems.
Image: Jari Sjölund
by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.