The "Thin Client" Redefined

Posted: June 27, 2006 in Informative
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A few years ago, when the Web moved from just serving web-pages to serving web-applications, the term Thin Client began to emerge. For those of you who do not know the meaning of the term, Thin Client means a computer that has only an operating system and a browser. Of course, back then, being a thin client or not, was relative to a certain application. In other words, it was used to clarify whether the user had to download and run some local components (e.g. ActiveX controls, Java applets, etc…) in order to use a certain web-application (thus becoming a thick or fat client) or all the processing was done on the server.

Nowadays, however, the term Thin Client has taken a whole new meaning. Many software companies are now heading towards the “real” thin client. The most apparent example is Google, with its fast growing arsenal of applications and services. Now, using a computer equipped only with an operating system and a browser, a user can have access to word processors, spread sheets, calendar applications, and much more, and all through the browser interface. This introduces a whole new paradigm of possibilities including simultaneous document editing by multiple users, checking people’s schedules online before requesting a meeting, etc. Of course, at any time, the user may choose to download the online document and store it locally on his/her machine.

It is not an overstatement to say that soon enough, using locally-installed software (except for very specific packages) will be something from the past.

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