Students in computer labWindows MultiPoint Server allows non-technical users to set up a multi-user computing environment, such as a classroom, computer lab, or public access stations, all without the support of dedicated IT staff. The best part is that one central "host" computer does all the work for multiple user stations, reducing the cost and effort associated with maintaining multiple computers.

Charles Brennick is the Founder and Director of Interconnection, a nonprofit that provides high-quality refurbished computers to non-profit and non-governmental organizations around the world. InterConnection has teamed up with TechSoup to help nonprofits, libraries, and refurbishers learn about and implement Windows MultiPoint Server. He offered these step-by-step setup instructions.

Installing Windows MultiPoint Server in Eight Easy Steps

Windows MultiPoint Server is an operating system, and installing it is much like installing Windows 8 on a computer.

Note that these instructions are for Windows MultiPoint Server 2011. The current donated product available through TechSoup is Windows MultiPoint Server 2012, and the specific installation steps may differ slightly between versions.

  1. Download the MultiPoint Server installation file and burn it to a CD or DVD or save it to a flash drive. See TechSoup's articles, Downloading Your Software Donations and What to Do After Downloading ISO Files from Microsoft, to learn how.
  2. Insert the CD/DVD or flash drive that includes the installation files into the "host" computer. Start the computer to begin installation.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to select your language options and accept the End User License Agreement.
  4. When prompted to choose which type of installation you want, choose "Custom (Advanced)". Installation will begin. Your computer will restart a few times during the installation process.
  5. Follow the on-screen prompts to change the administrator password, name the host computer, and to select basic configuration options. 
  6. Update display drivers. During installation, it is not uncommon to get a scary-looking MultiPoint Server configuration error message that says "The installed graphics display adapter driver must be specifically designed for the installed hardware.” Don't worry about this too much – it's just telling you that you need to update the computer's display drivers. You can find and download updated drivers by going to the website of your computer's graphics card manufacturer. You'll need to use the 64-bit version of the driver. The 64-bit version for Windows will work fine most of the time.
  7. After installing the updated drivers, reboot the computer.
  8. Map user stations: MultiPoint Server will automatically detect each user station that is connected to the host computer. Each user station's monitor will display a "Create MultiPoint Server Station" screen. All you need to do is click the indicated key (A, B, C, etc) to tell MultiPoint Server which user station is which.

That's all there is to it! In most of our test installations, setup took less than an hour. So your computer lab, classroom, or public access stations will be up and running in no time. 

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Image: Dell Inc.

by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Senior Content Manager, TechSoup