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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 during the fall of 2012. In this case, we
simply found out that San Pablo, California-based nonprofit Reliatech had tried out the application all
on their own.
is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides on-the-job training to
low-income people by having them provide IT tech support to individuals,
nonprofit organizations, and small businesses in the San Francisco Bay area. The
organization also does computer repair and refurbishment in its Gold Star Certified Renewed
Computers program. It is a social venture of the Oakland-based employment
training nonprofit Stride Center.
Reliatech hires Strides Center A+-certified graduates to do their IT tech
support. They’re essentially running it like an Internet café,
but also plan to use it for training classes.
Reliatech CEO Ben
Delaney and Technical Support Specialist Xiao Ma set up a Windows MultiPoint Server
lab in their San Pablo Neighborhood Technology Center.
mid November 2012
This is an eight-station
This lab didn’t replace an existing
lab. Internet connectivity is via a 6-megabit DSL connection.
Xiao Ma, who is an A+-certified IT technician, has advanced IT skills. He set up the MultiPoint Server
system. It took him 60 minutes to set up the hardware, and another hour to
get the software configured and the terminals activated. Remember we didn’t
supply any instructions at all on this installation.
Xiao Ma had a hard time
discovering the right client device hardware to use, so he opted to install the
four GForce 7600 video cards directly into the server computer to run all the
monitors. He mentioned that it takes a robust desktop computer with enough PCI
slots to accommodate the extra video cards. They actually cost less than client
devices. Each card has plugs for two monitors and costs $50 each. He then used
very low-cost passive USB hubs to plug in the keyboards and mice for each
station. This is the lowest-cost configuration we have seen yet.
Xiao Ma also had
trouble getting Reliatech’s custom screensaver to work (it says “Rent This
the lab to function mostly as an Internet café in which they rent the
stations in 15-minute increments. They
use a simple sign-up sheet, so they haven’t tried software like Cybercafe Pro yet. They also find that
the lab is useful for kids who come in with parents. The kids play games while
their parents are getting their computers fixed. Ben Delaney reports that the Internet
café usually has up to four people at a time using it, but they plan to
increase usage by offering classes on the new MultiPoint Server lab. People use
the lab for web browsing, job hunting, printing, scanning, looking at
videos on YouTube, and playing games.
Xiao Ma reports
that while he is supervising the Internet café that he very much appreciates
being able to see what everyone is doing from his admin terminal rather than
having to look over everyone’s shoulder. Ben added that the system is "super
cheap to maintain." Ben also said that he is a bit unclear on how software
licensing will work on the new MultiPoint Server system. He said that until now, most people have been doing everything they need to do just on the
Delaney says: "It’s a very cool
product, relatively easy to install, and it’s robust. Nobody has been able to
Image: Photo by Reliatech