They were a little ahead of their time because Java was new and networks and servers dragged but people still call thin clients dumb terminals because of the FUD spread by M$ and its partners. You can see part of the story in these summaries of M$’s campaigns about the time of Lose ’98. That is a document produced as evidence in Comes v M$ and it shows that not only did the NC have a few problems of its own, M$ actively connived with its partners to dig a hole and bury the NC. I will use that document in a grade 9 class outlining the history of the PC. The students will be using network computers/thin clients so they will know FUD when they see it. These are not dumb terminals or Java-based thin clients but regular X terminals showing the pictures and sending the clicks to a powerful machine built four years after the FUD campaign. The NC works. 10% of PCs are NCs today and the number is increasing steadily. They last so long a low level of production is sufficient to meet the needs. My students see the NC/thin client as a smart way to do IT and one that is superior to the thick clients they see at home and at school. Everyone who sees them here wants one.
Anyway, here are the highlights of that document wrt NCs:
Begin phase one of the Windows Vision: Natural Computing, with above two launches.
Continue worldwide efforts to prevent the NC from gaining any critical mass.
Cute, eh? Produce a product with a similar name while putting down the other guy’s stuff.
NC Attack: What we’ve done
- Account visits got us back in the race at FedEx and St. of Florida, whereNetPC’s have been added to NC evals. Visit to AARP resulted in no further NC deployments.
- Which to Choose document, TCO slides, NetPC demo units, and TCO calculator
- NC/Java competitive session #1 rated session at MGS. Delivered tech sessions on NC, Hydra, and ZAW
- Launch NCFacts.com with WagEd in August to deliver low road NC/Java messages. Continue to use ms.com to deliver hi gh road messages .
- Deliver NC trial/rejector case studies (One by end of Sept)
- Sun and Oracle plan to ship their NC s in volume in the fall, we must continue to utilize the press, events and partners to get the word our that the NC’s and JavaOS are the worst of both worlds.
- “There is next to no value in a terminal device. The value is in the content. The [NC] market eventually will resemble the razor-blade market. The devices will became handles and the content, the razor blades” Brian Murphy, The Yankee Group
- NC is likely a long term thrust, despite initial success over the last 6 months.
So, M$ waged a serious campaign to discourage production and purchase of network computers for more than a year while ramping up production of competing technology with Citrix and others. It takes great salesmen to claim a product is superior to another which effectively do the same thing, provide a virtual desktop. This campaign was so effective that many producers of thin clients went out of business at the same time that M$’s monopoly solidified. What’s wrong with this? Good salsemanship? No! This is sabotaging other legitimate businesses and is illegal in US law and other laws around the world. That they got away with it and experienced ten years of monopoly as a result is one of the crimes of the century.
NC was a trademark of Oracle and M$ was deliberately attacking the trademark telling millions of people it would never fly.
The Lanham Act expressly forbids such activity.
Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which–
is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities, shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.
The following shall not be actionable under this section:
All forms of news reporting and news commentary.
So M$ went way beyond fair use/comparisons. Otherwise why did they suck in the press and the “low road” NCFacts.com? They knew they were doing wrong but took the chance they would not be caught. The crime paid off handsomely. That’s why they continue to push the boundaries of anti-competition law.
In spite of their FUD, the NC is doing well, ten years later. It’s working in my schools. Novell, RedHat, and IBM are mass-producing systems of them with management tools orders of magnitude more efficient than what can be done with thick clients. The netbook, the smartbook, and the virtual desktop are all here to stay and taking share from the monopoly at last. M$ has tried to wring “value” from them by CALs and other horrors such as limiting the hardware on which their OS may be installed and they have tricked most OEMs into not pushing too hard but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the NC and it is not an on-coming train.
Wyse and IDC report huge savings using thin clients. Being partners of M$, and describing large business use of IT they refer to that other OS and not GNU/Linux but the savings will be larger with GNU/Linux just by cutting out the licensing fees. M$ charges server licence, CAL and application licence… It all adds up. In my installations, the cost of licences would have been about equal to the cost of hardware so we installed seats for half the cost using GNU/Linux. GNU/Linux gives better performance too because the server can run twice as many processes in a given quantity of RAM because of shared memory between executables. Others report similar results.