A year after the NATO intervention in Kosovo began, peace remains elusive for the Serbs and Kosovars. And, just 2 years after Microsoft first released its Windows terminal server product, many still consider Citrix’s MetaFrame a necessary part of thin-client networks. In an effort to address both issues, Microsoft, along with partners Hewlett-Packard and Wyse Technology, have announced plans for a massive RDP-only thin-client rollout in Kosovo. The project, to be known as Microsoft Peace \[TM\], will begin on April 1, 2000.

"We’re very excited about this," said Microsoft Peace project leader Ron Belushi. "Deploying an RDP-only thin-client network in Kosovo is an excellent way to show how Windows 2000 Terminal Services can fulfill user needs as a standalone product, even in the most stressful environments. But the main focus of this project is to show Serbs and Kosovars that they can coexist on the same server, share CPU cycles, RAM, and hard disk space, and yet maintain their individual identities. If the example of copy-on-write memory management can bring peace to this troubled area of the world, it will all be worthwhile."

In the Microsoft Peace pilot, HP NetServer LH 4s running Terminal Services will run all user applications, and clients will connect to the servers from Wyse Winterms designed to the Windows-Based Terminal Standard 1.5 specifications. After some network administration training, NATO soldiers will be able to use SNMP to manage the user devices. Users will have access to the full Microsoft Office 2000 suite of productivity applications, and, as a bonus, the first 1000 users to sign up for the program will get terminals with a locally installed copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator for Windows CE (the OS that accompanies Terminal Services Standard terminals). These customized Flight Simulator installations will display the terrain around Pristina and will be periodically updated by central servers via remote-management software to reflect changes to the landscape as roads and bridges are rebuilt.

At press time, it’s unclear whether Microsoft Peace would include Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) or Bluetooth, but wireless connectivity is a requirement, says Belushi. "We can’t take the chance that more bombing will take down the network infrastructure, and we’re using redundant hardened bunkers for the servers for the same reason."

Although RDP 5 includes client-side printer support for terminal sessions, the pilot won’t let clients use personal printers. "We would have liked to include support for client-side printers in the initial rollout," says Belushi, "but we didn’t have the manpower to support client devices that don’t work with remote management. Adding printers to the mix creates some additional complications that we’re not able to support right now, but as the physical infrastructure of Kosovo is restored and we’re able to train some of the NATO forces in printer management, we hope to add that capability."

Depending on the success of the Microsoft Peace pilot, multinational organizations such as the United Nations (U.N.) might consider implementing server-based computing to promote cooperation among groups that typically don't cooperate—or even communicate well. Shen Khan, a senior U.N. official for peacekeeping missions, said, "Talking to people about how they can live in peace and harmony isn’t really working, and using armed peacekeepers works only until the peacekeepers leave. But if people use interoperability products such as GraphOn’s Bridges or Citrix MetaFrame, they’ll be able to run Linux or UNIX applications from the Windows platform seamlessly, and vice versa. Seen on a daily basis, how can an example like that not promote peace?"

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