Citrix has launched MetaFrame to provide thin client multiple user applications on an NT environment - but its success could be sabotaged by Microsoft's licensing arrangements.
Running only on Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, MetaFrame allows simultaneous multiple user access to Windows NT applications.
"With MetaFrame, Citrix continues to bring Windows NT-focused transactional and personal productivity applications to users in a very cost-effective, manageable fashion," commented analyst Dan Kusnetzky, director of operating environments and serverware with IDC.
However, Kusnetzky warned that Microsoft's licensing policy would dampen the uptake of this technology. To gain the benefits of MetaFrame, formerly code-named pICAsso, users must not only buy a licence from Citrix, but also Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, also launched last week, plus an NT 4.0 Workstation licence for every end user. Based on an installation of 50 users, this could end up being five times more expensive than comparable Unix systems, according to Kusnetzky.
"Microsoft's licensing policy is client-centric when this is a server-centric environment," he said. "My sense is that Microsoft does not want this to take off."
Pricing for MetaFrame, which is shipping now, starts from $4,995 (#3,064) for a 15 concurrent user licence. The UK pricing for Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition licence is #867. Users must then buy a Client Access licence at #30 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 at #239 for each end user.
Windows Terminal Server, formerly code-named Hydra, is not a viable product without MetaFrame, according to Andrew Tidd, network development manager at Sony, which is evaluating Windows-based terminals. "There's no point in having Windows Terminal Server on its own. You need to buy MetaFrame," he said. "The Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) is very important because it allows you to use legacy systems and other operating systems."
Gerald Gatt, director of international marketing at Citrix, denied that being tied to Microsoft's pricing policy would be a problem in promoting MetaFrame. "The case for this kind of computing is already there," he said. "Our aim is to bring the benefits of host computing and personal computing together to provide a predictable cost of ownership."
Incorporating Citrix's ICA, MetaFrame allows end-users to view an NT 4.0 workstation GUI on applications run on a server across all types of client hardware, operating platforms, network connections and LAN protocols, unlike Microsoft Terminal Server which is restricted to Windows-based devices and IP connections.
MetaFrame also enables users to access PC applications simultaneously with server-run applications, with no noticeable difference between them.
Systems managers can control use of server-run applications, restricting the manipulation of mission critical data.
IBM has announced that the IBM Network Station will embrace Citrix' new thin-client/server software product, MetaFrame.
By supporting MetaFrame, together with Microsoft's Windows Terminal Server, IBM hopes to enable Network Station customers to fully exploit the benefits of Citrix' thin-client/server Windows NT system via MetaFrame using Citrix' Independent Computing Architecture (ICA).
ICA enables applications to be executed 100% on the server, while users see and work only with the application's interface as it appears on their screens.
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