It is unlikely that the thin-client vision can be realized in the developing world in the short term unless connectivity and power supplies get a lot better, fast. However, the basic concept may become operationalized through the mobile.
A decade ago, the network computer — also called the thin-client computer — was promoted as a replacement for personal computers and desktop software. Thin clients have no hard drives to store desktop applications, like Microsoft’s Word or Excel, permanently. The leading supporters of the inexpensive, terminal-style machines were Microsoft’s archrivals at Oracle and Sun Microsystems.
The market never took off in the 1990s. But the vision of a decade ago now seems within reach. Years of progress in hardware, software and networking have enabled thin computers to mimic the user experience of PCs for most tasks. Evidence that thin computing may really be catching on came in July, when Hewlett-Packard announced it would buy Neoware, a thin-client maker. The $214 million deal sent a message: thin-client computing was a market that could not be ignored.
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