Thin clients have taken on a role analogous to the terminals that provided the interface with mainframes and minicomputers in the past. In most cases, these intelligent terminals have been attached to Windows servers but the Web browsers that were previously merely a means of providing Internet connectivity can now tap the power of Web servers.
Effectively, the Web becomes the global mainframe that will house the powerful applications of the future.
To exploit this potential, Wyse has based its latest Winterm 3125SE terminal on Microsoft's Windows CE .net operating system but it has added its own extensions. One of the key additions is a Java Virtual Engine, which provides the ability to interact with Java services in addition to .net applets.
An optional 802.11b wireless module allows the Winterm to be used in free-standing kiosks that can be repositioned without any concerns about Lan connection points and cable runs.
A new application enables a standalone Winterm to be used as a Web browsing terminal. The addition of a webcam and Microsoft's Netmeeting software extends the capabilities to allow the terminal to be used as a videophone.
Stephen Yeo, EMEA marketing director at Wyse, predicted a bright future for the 3125SE. "We believe this will become our biggest-selling terminal within months of its release," he said.
"In some ways this is being helped by the recession, which is making people look at ways of cutting costs. Why give a 2GHz PC to someone who just needs to tap into the SAP application to look up information about goods and parts?"
Royal Mail is using the new Winterms as it attempts to turn its business round. "The company has bought 300 terminals to help restructure the business as quickly as possible," said Yeo.
"The ability to post the Winterm to an employee at a post office anywhere in the country and allow them to connect the system up themselves means a massive saving in deployment costs. This is enhanced by the remote management software that comes free with each terminal and the fact that the lack of local discs and reduces the threat from viruses to almost zero."