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More Computers for Less Money?

More Computers for Less Money?

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You can build a computer center with fewer computers. Compared to typical arrangements, Windows MultiPoint Server (WMS) costs surprisingly less to adopt and maintain, saves electricity, and gives administrators group controls. For nonprofit groups with many different missions, it’s helping people access technology ... for much less.

Diagram of a Windows MultiPoint Server sample setup

MultiPoint Server software allows several people — each with only a monitor, keyboard, and mouse — to have their own virtual desktops, using one host computer. Individual users can work independently, save and share files, customize individual settings, and log in at any station. Unlike more complicated virtualization systems, this software is intended to be turnkey, so you’ll be up and running fast. Workstations connect directly, via USB, or as thin clients over a network.

Is It Right for Me?

Children in a classroom sit in front of monitors and keyboardsMicrosoft introduced WMS in classrooms, but this software works in any setting that doesn’t require advanced processing power. Some real-world users include:

"I would recommend it for other libraries. The lab is easy to move." - Lane Fernando, IT, La Conner Regional Library

So What About Those Savings?

Microsoft commissioned a study (of users in emerging market countries) that indicated 66 percent savings over the one-computer-per-user model:

  • Hardware (66 percent saved): Multiple personal computers cost significantly more than the same number of workstations running off one host computer. Older computers can also be used as workstations. Two users can even utilize a single monitor through a split-screen feature.
  • Energy efficiency (67 percent saved): Fewer computers means greater energy efficiency. So being good to the environment actually costs less. Fewer machines also results in less heat buildup, which in warmer weather equals lower air conditioning costs.
  • Deployment: With only one computer to load, setting up is faster than having to deploy multiple computers.
  • Maintenance (99 percent saved on labor): The administrator only has to maintain a single computer for multiple workstations. Software is loaded or updated on a single desktop, not on a dozen.

Eyes in the Back of My Head?

Beyond savings, the WMS application is intended to make administrators’ lives easier ... and make them mind readers too. Administrators can view what users are doing, send out messages to all users, restrict websites, or share tasks on screen.

"Space savings -- having one computer with multiple stations was a benefit we had not considered." - Alex Tabony, operations manager, CTP Berkeley

Get Started Here

Two versions of Windows MultiPoint Server are available for donation from TechSoup: standard edition hosts up to 10 stations and premium edition hosts up to 20. If more stations and hosts are needed, the administrator is able to manage multiple host computers from a single station.

If you’re thinking of using WMS for a library or a training center, an after-school program or a crisis shelter, you can find out more about whether this application fits your needs here. Or log in to your TechSoup account and take our Eligibility Quiz to see if you qualify for Microsoft Donations.

Refurbishers can get WMS for a low cost through the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program.

Demo showing a view of the screens of multiple users

Top image: Diagram of a Windows MultiPoint Server sample setup (Microsoft)

Second image: Children in a classroom sit in front of monitors and keyboards (Microsoft)

Bottom image: Demo showing a view of the screens of multiple users (Microsoft)

Carolyn Cotney | TechSoup Copywriter

  • This works with laptops?

  • Hello!

    This is an excellent question! According to our product experts, this software can work with a laptop if it meets certain requirements. Here's what I was told:

    "It's quite possible to use laptops for both the server and workstations. The server needs to be pretty hefty -- at least a duo core processor with lots of RAM."

    Also feel free to check out these requirements in more detail at this post: "How to Reuse Old Laptops with Windows MultiPoint Server" at

    Thanks! Have a great day!