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HP launches new zero client amid PC division turmoil

HP offers no assurances that it will keep its PC division or continue to provide service to customers. Despite this uncertainty, the company launched its new zero client.

IT managers don't know if Hewlett Packard will retain its $40 billion PC business or cut it loose, leaving them unsure if they should continue to invest in HP client devices. And amid this drama, the company released a new zero client device for IT shops to consider.

HP said recently it may sell its PC division -- which shocked its customers and partners. With a new regime in place, it's possible the company may reverse its decision, but no final word is expected to come anytime soon, and company officials have stayed mum.

So, until the final word comes down, HP customers will question their investments in HP client hardware and wonder if they buy more, whether the company will offer them support.

"Until we know the fate, there will be reluctance to buy new products -- even if the products are great," said David Daoud, an analyst at IDC, Framingham, Mass. "People need to know whether HP will be around in two, three years to provide service."

HP's good service and support track record over the past several years is one reason that enterprise IT shops use HP PCs and thin client hardware.

In SearchServerVirtualization 's 2011 Virtualization Decisions Survey of over 500 IT pros, 31% of respondents said they use thin clients. About 50% use Wyse Technologies and over 32% use HP clients.

One IT director said he uses HP Elite laptops to deliver VMware View virtual desktops. He has stayed with HP, in part, because of the service. "Whenever I have an issue, I can make one phone call and the issue is taken care of," said Ken Fanta, IT Director with the University of Wisconsin Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.

HP's new shared PC client

HP's new t200 zero client for MultiSeat connects to a shared PC host using either USB or Ethernet. HP claims it is the first zero client device to support  both USB and Ethernet connections.

Up to 15 t200 zero clients can connect to one HP Compaq ms6200 Series Desktop to deliver individual sessions to end users, according to HP. Using a shared PC model costs less than giving each end user a PC, but it is not a one-to-one PC replacement.

HP said the t200 shared option provides good performance with Office applications and low-end Web research, but it isn't adequate for resource intensive applications, such as AutoCAD.

Shared computing devices are ideal for small and mid-sized businesses or manufacturing facilities, schools, labs and public spaces which need only basic computing functions.

The HP t200 Zero Client is slightly larger in size than a deck of cards and consumes about three watts of power when connecting to the host via USB, which reduces energy costs. The device is fully licensed and supported by Microsoft for its MultiPoint Server 2011 operating system. HP currently provides support for the complete offering.

The HP t200 Zero Client for MultiSeat is expected to be available in early November. Prices start at $99 per device.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter.

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Interesting announcment, and at a very challenging time for the company. Rumor has it that Wyse, the biggest player in the zero client space is making an announcment and demonstration on this topic at the Educause trade show. With Wyse's size, success, and commitment to this market, it's worth waiting to see what happens there...