Windows Thin PC: Another flavor of Windows 7

As I discovered in recent TechEd presentations in Australia and New Zealand, not too many people are familiar with the newest members of the Windows 7 family.  So let’s explore one of those in more detail, called Windows Thin PC. For the full marketing overview, you can review these pages:

To summarize, Windows Thin PC is a modified version of Windows 7 (built from a Windows Embedded Standard 7 base) that is available as a Software Assurance benefit (for anyone with Software Assurance on their desktop operating systems).  It has a reduced footprint (1.1GB compressed WIM, under 5GB when expanded on disk), and as a result has lighter hardware requirements:

  • 1GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB hard disk space

So it should come as no surprise that it is designed to be used as a thin client OS, enabling older or lesser hardware to connect to your VDI or terminal services infrastructure to run most applications.

Windows Thin PC has licensing restrictions that allows very few applications to be installed and used locally.  From the Thin PC FAQ:

Can I run applications on WinTPC?

Yes, you can run applications that fall into one of the following categories:

  • Security
  • Management
  • Terminal emulation
  • Remote Desktop and similar technologies
  • Web browser
  • Media player
  • Instant messaging client
  • Document viewers
  • .NET Framework and Java Virtual Machine

However, you cannot run any productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office or similar applications.

Again, this is pretty consistent with what you could do with dedicated thin client hardware,

So what is it like to deploy this operating system?  It deploys just like any other version (SKU) of Windows 7.  MDT 2012 will officially support deploying this OS (since that where we’ve done all of our testing), but it’s not hard to get MDT 2010 Update 1 to deploy it too by removing the <UpgradeData> section from the unattend.xml that you use to deploy Windows Thin PC.

What does it look like once installed?  Just like Windows 7, but with fewer items on the start menu:


So it’s not an operating system for everyone, but it does have its place.