Windows Multipoint Server in the Classroom

Originally posted on the Microsoft in Education Blog.

It was a great week at the Global Education Partner Summit  surrounded by several hundred of our top education partners.  This event is a great opportunity to announce the Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 (WMS) is now available generally. I see WMS as a powerful tool in Microsoft’s suite of solutions to enable 21st century skill-building. As digital devices become more ubiquitous in our classrooms and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is accepted more and more, the diversity of devices can become an issue for teachers and administrators alike. Teachers want to deliver a consistent learning experience, but are spending more and more time trying to manage varied technologies instead of teaching. School ICT departments are responsible for what students have access to, but many times with very little -- if any -- control over those devices. But WMS offers an innovative solution. By using Remote Desktop connections to MultiPoint Server, students’ devices (including the ultra-low cost MultiPoint stations) deliver one consistent Windows 8 learning experience, complemented by simple teacher tools. And if the students have Windows 7 or Windows 8 laptops the experience gets even better.

WMS 2012 is a perfect complement to our flagship products, like Windows 8 and Office 365, in two ways:

  • It provides more students access to the latest software by enabling the lowest cost workstation hardware,  such as Zero Clients. You can see a short demo of the different client options here.
  • It orchestrates every screen in the digital classroom, providing visibility, control and collaboration tools that keep the teacher in charge and productive. Here’s a short demo of the MultiPoint Dashboard here.

As I’ve mentioned previously I find it incredibly inspiring that this technology is valued not only in the technically sophisticated school district next to Microsoft’s campus, but also in distant refugee camps and disaster recovery efforts.

We have made enhancements for 2012. Here’s a quick summary:

1. A new MultiPoint Dashboard: One of the largest changes from 2011 to 2012 is the addition of the MultiPoint Dashboard. It effectively separates the system administration tasks from the real-time classroom tasks. With the Dashboard comes a new, WMS-specific user group: “The Dashboard User group.” Standard user accounts added to this group gain specific privileges which allows access to the MultiPoint Dashboard without needing administrator-level permissions. A Dashboard User will be able to monitor stations, block users, limit web access and projects to all users. Teachers and administrators will also be able to open local chat sessions with users and take control of a user’s keyboard and mouse to provide hands-on demonstrations. The MultiPoint Manager will continue to be used for setup and management of servers and users.

2. The Windows 8 desktop experience: MultiPoint stations get the latest look, feel and touch of Windows 8. This includes the new start page, great per-station USB device support, and multi-touch input on direct-video connect stations.

3. Hands-off recovery with Disk Protection: WMS 2012 provides a disk protection feature that, when enabled, discards all changes and returns the system volume to the right state on every boot. This feature is ideal for administrators who do not want to allow their users to modify the system volume or user profiles in any way, such as in a public library or a kiosk.
4. Monitoring Windows 8 (and 7) clients: MultiPoint Server 2012 includes the ability to monitor computers that are already running Windows 7 or 8. This allows for orchestrating a mixed environment of MultiPoint stations and PC clients. A system administrator is able to install the new MultiPoint Connector on the PCs and then add the PCs to the MultiPoint Dashboard. Once a PC is added, features such as “block station,” “enlarge thumbnail,” and “launch / close application” can be performed across all the PCs and MultiPoint Stations in the lab.
5. Virtualized Windows 8 or 7 Desktops: The Premium version of Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 allows you to enable the Hyper-V role and create Windows 7 or 8 client virtual machines to map to MultiPoint stations. Because the VMs and the MultiPoint stations are all running on the same computer, administrators are able to significantly simplify deployment of the virtual machine-based desktops. MultiPoint Manager will walk you step-by-step through creating, customizing and deploying Windows 8 or 7 virtual desktop stations. This is a great option for addressing application and device compatibility issues.

Millions of students already have access to technology and information by using WMS 2010 and 2011. WMS 2012 takes that experience to an entirely new level. I am confident you will love this product as part of your overall technology strategy for education.

To learn more, start by visiting the MultiPoint website, or download the Evaluation version today.

-Anthony Salcito

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