On March 13, Citrix, which leads the pack in providing thin-client solutions in the Windows 2000 (Win2K) and Windows NT space, released MetaFrame for Solaris 1.0, the first release in its MetaFrame for UNIX line. MetaFrame is Citrix's thin-client/server solution. The MetaFrame software runs on a server (in this case, a Solaris server), and thin clients—desktops, Net PCs, Windows CE devices—connect to the server and graphically display the applications running entirely on that server. MetaFrame captures keystrokes and mouse clicks, processes the events, and sends the display data across the network to the client. Thus, clients can have minimal processing power; they just need ICA—Citrix's thin-client protocol. MetaFrame's UNIX line represents a new initiative for Citrix-based thin-client solutions. The architecture lets ICA client desktops receive applications from Win2K and NT servers and UNIX servers, at the same time. Citrix has ICA clients for most desktop OSs, which makes heterogeneous networking easier. According to Citrix, this application-delivery process is invisible to users; they just fire up the applications, without knowing where the relevant server is or what OS it's running. On the desktop, users see applications running in a Microsoft Windows window and a Sun Microsystems Solaris window. This capability will increase the flexibility of running a Citrix-based environment. Administrators will be able to create a thin-client network with applications on Win2K, NT, and UNIX; administrators will no longer have to sacrifice UNIX applications when setting up a Citrix thin-client network. According to Jon Rolls, product manager for Internet application server products at Citrix, the range of applications on Win2K and NT servers and UNIX servers can differ substantially. "Windows servers tend to run a lot of standard applications, such as Office. Almost everybody we deal with runs Word and Outlook. UNIX servers tend to be pretty specialized; they run a lot of custom applications," said Rolls. "It's also a new solution for Java applications. Java clients are big—about 19MB. Their size makes them bad for small devices. New solution: Put the Java client on a UNIX server, then thin-client it out to the small devices." Interestingly, Microsoft heartily approved of the venture, according to Citrix. Doug Wheeler, senior vice president of Citrix's worldwide marketing, said that Microsoft liked the idea of MetaFrame for UNIX. "It really gives them inroads. It lets UNIX shops set up NT when they need it. Besides, most of our customers use Windows desktops anyway; so it gives people more applications to run on Windows." Citrix's move into the UNIX application server market offers the company a more secure position in the marketplace because the company is no longer tied to just Win2K and NT. The product line competes in a market that has no entrenched competitors. Only SCO's Tarantella offers Win2K, NT, and UNIX application services using a UNIX middleware application server. GraphOn also offers UNIX application servers. However, MetaFrame built its product on the base OSs. Citrix's name recognition and critical developer support suggest a successful product introduction for MetaFrame in its UNIX variants. MetaFrame for Solaris 1.0 will include compatibility through Solaris 7, with an upgrade for Solaris 8 coming soon. Citrix has plans for MetaFrame for HP-UX and IBM AIX 3 and 6 months from now; Citrix hasn't announced which will appear first. Later releases will include all major UNIX versions. According to Wheeler, Citrix decided to price the UNIX and the Win2K and NT products the same to make it easier to determine which OS to use. Retail pricing is $4995 for MetaFrame plus $1000 for Subscription Advantage, Citrix's automatic updating system. Extra user licenses beyond the first 15 cost about $200 per user. For more information, see MetaFrame for UNIX.