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November 06, 2003
Longhorn and the Server in the Closet
As part of its series on Microsoft's recently unveiled next-gen OS, Longhorn, C|Net News analyzes the strategy behind the software (Plan A for Microsoft). The strategy, according to C|Net, is a return to a "fat client" architecture, where lots of processing takes place on the user's PC or portable device, as opposed to a remote server.
Frankly, I don't really get this thin/fat client debate. The debate most often seems to be not whether there should be a server/client architecture, but how robust the client should be for the consumer. Personally, I've never really understood the value proposition for most thin client architectures, given the relative inexpensive of silicon and magnetic storage. The question for me is why consumers aren't running both clients and servers.
Many consumer electronic devices are basically computers, but they don't need to be that smart, they can be specialized. What I need for my consumer electronic devices is not easy internet access, but home network access. If Microsoft is looking for new markets for software, why not develop and sell a server for consumers? What I would like is a machine that homeowners can easily stick in a closet, but will provide media and applications functionality throughout the home. Consumers don't really need a new version of Office, they need something that will let them more easily manage their increasingly gadget-filled home.
Oh yeah, and it would be nice to easily run a server from home that handles all my internet publishing needs, but that is more of a telecom issue.
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