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NETWORK COMPUTING DEVICES LAUNCHES ‘THUMPER’

Network Computing Devices Inc today launched its new Windows-based Terminal Server, boasting support for Microsoft’s yet to be released Hydra, multi-user NT. The marketplace is already looking crowded with rivals Wyse Technology Inc and Neoware Systems Inc (CI No 3,289) both poised with similar products. The company has so far built around 30 of the boxes, curiously codenamed Thumper, and expects to be shipping in volume by the time Hydra is launched, which is now expected to be in the first quarter 1998. The new machine uses NEC Electronics’ VR4310 RISC microprocessor, runs Windows CE and is supposed to access Hydra via Microsoft’s T.Share protocol. However, NCD’s technical manager Mike Beckett says T.Share is unlikely to be ported over to any of the Windows based terminals in time for the release of Hydra, but should be available shortly after. NCD says it already has an alpha version of T.Share for evaluation and will work on a port from the PC version, which Microsoft will make available at the release of Hydra; however it will also use rival ICA protocol from Citrix Systems Inc. Says Beckett: no one’s committed to the performance of T.Share, it might perform incredibly or ICA may be faster…we’ll give customers the choice. And Microsoft? They know the situation and they’re fine about it, adds Beckett. NCD insists the new machine will play in a completely different market than its existing line of Network Computers and will be pitched at firms who wouldn’t even look at an NC. The most important thing for us is to have Microsoft approval; without that we’d just be another also ran, Beckett insists. Thumper is due for release concurrently with multi-user NT and will be priced as close to $500 as possible. Meanwhile, Citrix says its pICAsso alternative thin-client/server system software for Hydra, now in its first beta release for NT Server 4.0, has won broad industry support. At Comdex, the company produced statements of support from Compaq Computer Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Digital Equipment Corp, as well as from five terminal manufacturers, including NCD. Microsoft itself said that the Citrix product would extend Windows Terminal to support non-Windows clients.

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CBR Staff Writer

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