Windows Multipoint Server is a solution to shared computing that is primarily designed to meet the needs of schools and libraries. It allows teachers and administrators to have control over the content that users are viewing and what they are accessing.By running Multipoint Server all stations when connected appear to run on Windows 7 so users can experience the most up-to-date Windows Operating System.

It allows a teacher/administrator to centrally open and close applications for each station, either machine by machine or for all machines connected to the Multipoint Server, in doing this it ensures that students are using the right programs or looking at the right document in order to complete a task that they have been given. It also enables a  user or teachers station to be projected to the entire classroom at the click of a button. The station selected is projected to all stations connected, including RDP sessions.  This gives students an opportunity to share their work with other students as the teachers control the sharing aspect and users cannot continue to work on what they were doing until the teacher stops projecting a selected workstation to their station. Administrators have an overview of all connections to the server and can view what other users are doing and they can limit access to certain websites or even block access to the internet entirely on a per user basis or for all stations connected. Below is the MultiPoint Manager showing all the connections to the server.

Thin clients can RDP into the Multipoint Server (we had 12 sessions running at one point!) and logon with user credentials. Users can log on concurrently and work on their own work. If users have individual accounts then they can change personalisation settings which remain on all stations regardless of where they log on.

In principle, it seems a good idea but the cost might put some academic institues off the idea. The servers that are required to run Multipoint Server 2011 are suggested to have at least x64 quad-core hyper threaded processor and 6 GB RAM for between 7 – 11 stations. This is in addition to having 11 DVI or VGA video ports on the server (unless you get multifunction hubs with can also handle DVI ports. These hubs would connect via USB to the server) and 11 USB ports at least for the hubs to connect to the server. Along with this, each station requires a USB hub, keyboard, mouse and monitor as a minimum requirement. If users want to listen to music, then a hub with an audio jack is also required.  In a practical school environment, you would need 3 servers per classroom or plenty of thin clients that could RDP into the server. Overall, its a good concept but the price and server requirement issues may be too large for some environments.