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Microsoft launches free Windows Thin PC beta

Microsoft has announced a little treat for system administrators sick of fixing desktop software glitches: a locked-down version of Windows 7 designed to turn cheap hardware into thin-client systems.

Dubbed Windows Thin PC, or WinTPC, the software uses virtualisation technologies to turn lightweight hardware into centrally managed thin clients - and the locked-down nature of the software gives system administrators all the power.

The software is designed to minimise the amount of data which is written to disk, providing a static environment which is centrally managed via the System Center introduced into Windows Server 2008 R2 - and, the company claims, making it easier to ditch old hardware at the end of its life cycle without having to worry too much about data security.

The thin-client model also promises freedom from desktop glitches: so long as the hardware works, the software should too - and any issues can be resolved by simply rewriting a new virtual image.

Microsoft is clearly betting on thin-client technology - which has been around for a number of decades now - as being the future of business computing, offering a pre-release preview of Windows Thin PC for business to play with on the understanding that, should they decide the platform isn't suitable, PCs can be reverted back to standard desktops quickly and easily.

Interested parties can sign up for the beta on Microsoft's Connect site - but once the beta expires, you'll likely be expected to shell out on licences if you want to keep your thin-client systems.