HP Thin Client pt 2 / Windows 7 / Office 2010 / Office Live

This post is a bit of a wrap up of a whole lot of stuff. Firstly our experiments with the HP Thin Client are continuing. I successfully got it to connect to a WS2008 RD server with NLA turned off. I’m now experimenting with student logins and mandatory profiles. One of our standard configurations for students is to redirect the start menu to the All Users start menu. In Windows XP this is in one location, but for Windows 7/Vista the location has changed, so I have put in a loopback GPO for this particular RD server. I also had to put in another loopback policy due to the fact that the Start menu options aren’t being adjusted like they would be on a RDC 6 or 7 client (ensuring a logged in user can’t shut down the server (!). This was also seen with the NComputing terminal connecting to VSpace on WS2003, so maybe it is not a limit of NComputing’s client. I have got the HP to run in Kiosk mode and to connect automatically, so that when it is turned on, all the user has to do is wait for it to bring up the RD logon screen and then log in just as they would if it was a PC. We have just been busy experimenting with different software applications to see how well they will work in a RD session, and so far it looks pretty good, a lot of software titles that don’t require full video work pretty well in it. So it is not that far away before we try it out in an actual classroom.

Windows 7 continues to be my OS of choice for PC installations and I expect pretty soon, as soon as I have some of the necessary work done, that we will start building a Windows 7 image for HP laptops. It will incorporate Office 2010, which I am also slowly rolling out on other computers around the place. 2010 has many improvements and the ability to save an Outlook Live password, which Outlook 2007 can’t do, will be well welcomed by users no doubt. Office 2010 was released to volume customers (us) at the end of April, so it has preceded the retail sales launch date by several months. We will need a Windows 7 image for the next time we buy some student computers, which will probably be happening towards the end of the year. I have decided that future imaging will use the free setup tools provided by Microsoft, specifically the MDT system or part of it. Last year I spent a lot of effort learning how to put together a sysprepped Vista image. Unfortunately Vista turned out to be such a crock on our desktops that the main thing I got from this effort was the fact that the same knowledge/experience can be used to image Windows 7, as they are based on the same architecture. So I hope that the Windows 7 experience will be more productive, especially as there is not going to be an “official” image for these laptops for some time.

Today also I heard that Office Live has been launched. Office Live is the online (browser based) version of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, which is a rival to Google Apps. I went to the website and logged in using my Windows Live ID and saw that the four icons for these applications now appear alongside the Skydrive section of my profile. What Live@Edu users are now waiting for is the Sharepoint Live rollout which will integrate Office Live into their organisational Exchange Live infrastructure, because apart from the online Office apps, Sharepoint Live will (I presume) also provision Live@Edu organisations with document sharing and collaboration features, the way that the previous Office Sharepoint Server technology did.