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Thin client goes on a diet

HDS Network Systems unveils an "ultra-thin" client that takes up less than 15 square inches of space.

The so-called "thin" client is getting even thinner at HDS Network Systems.

HDS has announced what it calls an "ultra-thin" client to run Windows applications off a central server. Thin-client computers depend on servers to actually run the applications and to store the resulting files and documents.

Thin clients are supposed to keep installation and maintenance costs low by making it easy to manage several desktops. But the shift to "thinner" clients also seems to many like a throwback to the old model of "dumb" display terminals connected to mainframes.

HDS is calling its system "ultra-thin" partly because of the physical design: its vertical case takes up less than 15 square inches of space. The HDS NeoStation also runs the company's very simplified NetOS for Windows Terminals although it can be upgraded with extra software to run enterprise, Internet, and Java applications.

HDS claims that the NeoStation's performance is equivalent to today's fastest PCs, but whether the system can maintain that performance when several boxes are drawing from the same server is unclear; adding more thin clients increases the demands on the network, while not necessarily adding extra processing power.

HDS is in the process of changing its name to Neoware, following an agreement with Hitachi Data Systems to give up the name and the Web site address to Hitachi.

Hitachi has licensed the NetOS operating system and will resell the NeoStation under the Neoware brand name.