Questions about Thin Desktop®

What is Thin Desktop

Thin Desktop® is a locally installed application that gives administrators complete control over user interaction with the client device. Client devices (desktop, laptop, thin client) are frequently configured to start and launch either a Citrix ICA connection, an RDP / Terminal Services Connection, or a Horizon View connection to Virtual desktops or applications. A key benefit to using Thin Desktop is the ability to easily  use or restrict underlying resources – driver support, printer and USB device support.

What is the value of Thin Desktop versus a Thin Client?

  • Thin Desktop will install and behave in the same manner on any hardware device having a Microsoft operating system – including Thin Client hardware. Thin Desktop insures an identical user experience on any hardware device across all Microsoft operating systems.
  • Savings are significant when repurposing existing devices with Thin Desktop
  • Generally, organizations have tools, processes and procedures in place to manage a Microsoft environment. You can use your existing methods to install, manage and deploy Thin Desktop, with no new management applications, tools, or processes to install, learn or manage – lowering costs and accelerating projects.

Why wouldn’t we use GPO and RegEdit instead of using Thin Desktop?

A variety of methods exist to provide user access controls. Many companies restrict devices to some degree using these methods. Generally, a great deal of time is spent configuring, testing and documenting group policy or registry settings to accomplish some degree of end user access controls. Thin Desktop provides significant added value over these approach by offering a simple, low cost and convenient way to accomplish the goal of limiting certain users to specific connections or applications. In addition, Thin Desktop is an application – it installs and behaves in the same manner on any hardware device utilizing a Microsoft operating system.

Do I need a Microsoft VDA License if I use Thin Desktop?

If you are a Microsoft SA customer, and the PC’s you currently own are on SA, you do not need a VDA License in addition to Thin Desktop. Thin Desktop is an application installed on a Microsoft OS. If you were to run Thin Desktop on an XPE or WES 7 Thin Client, you would need to purchase a VDA License for the Client Device (just as you would for any Thin Client hardware device.) Your Microsoft Representative can address your specific situation and costs associated with Thin Desktop, if any.

What are the advantages of using a Thin Client over Thin Desktop?

The only advantage we are aware of is that of power utilization (in some situations). Several years ago desktop PC’s used as much as 225 watts of power. Today, many use less than 75 watts. In addition, using “power savings” settings, customers have dramatically lowered power usage.

Many device manufacturers have begun selling low power-usage devices sometimes called Ultra Minis. These devices have a similar footprint and the frugal power usage of the Thin Client – a key difference is the availability of a full Microsoft Operating System on ultra minis – resulting in lower or no cost VDA. All Thin Client operating systems (yes, even “Zero Clients”) require VDA. The VDA costs over a 3-year period make a Thin Client significantly more expensive than buying a new PC and running the Thin Desktop application.

A second argument typically made by Thin Client Vendors is that their proprietary Linux-based or Zero-Client devices are much more secure and do not require Virus Protection or Operating System updates. Recent events have proven this claim to inaccurate.

Several common limitations of a proprietary or Linux OS are higher cost for Microsoft VDA Licensing, a waiting period for updates or no updates at all to new client side features from vendors,  reliance on a third part for new features, requirements  to learn new management tools and/or procedures for managing and updating the Thin Client capabilities. Most often, Microsoft skill sets and tools are already in place for easy use with Thin Desktop – why not leverage what you already own?

Does Thin Desktop support 32 and 64 bit OS's?

Yes, Thin Desktop supports both 32 Bit and 64 Bit versions of Windows 7, Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1.

Does Thin Desktop work with Windows Embedded 7, 8 and Windows XPE?

Yes. “Write filters” must be disabled and the system should be re-booted prior to installing Thin Desktop. Once installed, write filters can be enabled.

Note: If using Wyse NetXClean.exe, it needs to be disabled to install Thin Desktop.

Does Thin Desktop work with Win TPC and Win FLP?

Yes, Thin Desktop has been tested and operates normally with both Windows Thin PC and Win Fundamentals for Legacy PCs.

Does Thin Desktop work with ultra-mini, Thin Client and “small form” hardware devices?

Assuming the device has a Microsoft Operating System installed, Thin Desktop will install and operate normally. Many customers have a mix of new and old PC’s, Thin Clients and small form PC’s using the Thin Desktop application. The user experience is exactly the same, regardless of the device.

Does the end user still see the Windows Desktop with the Start button?

The desktop and start button do not appear when using the Application, Citrix or Horizon View shell. When using the Explorer shell, explorer can be configured with or without the start button. See the explorer shell options for more details.

What if the user plugs a Printer or USB drive into a PC running Thin Desktop?

Thin Desktop allows the administrator to decide what is and is not available to the Thin Desktop user accounts on any given device. USB pass through, local printer support and other capabilities are at the administrator’s discretion. For additional detail, see the user guide or contact us directly for specific examples.

Can I configure Thin Desktop to launch more than one application?

Yes, several options exist depending on the use case. Contact us for examples.

Will Windows Update and my Antivirus software still function?

Yes, if you decide to allow these activities to continue. You can also disable these functions as needed via a local settings or GPO.

Can I install Thin Desktop on a device joined to a domain?

Yes, you can use a domain account as the Thin Desktop user account. Keep in mind the device may be subject to Group Policy assigned by the domain.

Can Thin Desktop use a domain account instead of a local account?

Yes. This functionality was included in the release of Thin Desktop 3.

Can Thin Desktop have more than one user account on a device?

Yes, multiple Thin Desktop user accounts can exist on a device. Thin Desktop support includes local, domain and interactive user accounts. See Thin Desktop documentation for additional details regarding user and administrator accounts.

Are Microsoft Updates and Antivirus updates required?

The decision is entirely at your discretion. Some customers use write filter capabilities found in Win TPC, WES 7 & 8 in lieu of traditional virus and security measures.

Can I easily change the application the Thin Desktop is launching on boot?

Yes. The ability to change the shell managed by Thin Desktop can be done either through Thin Desktop builder or via command line.

Will a terminal emulation application work?

Yes. We have customers using Thin Desktop to launch terminal emulation applications installed on the device.

Can I easily disable Thin Desktop once it is enabled?

Yes. Assuming you are able to log in to the device as a user with the appropriate permissions, Thin Desktop can be disabled either locally through builder or via the command line; or remotely using your PC management tools.

What do I do if my Thin Desktop device fails or I need to re-image it?

Please contact  Software maintenance subscription (Support and Updates) includes activation release for retired or reimaged devices.

How do I deploy Thin Desktop?

There are several options for deploying Thin Desktop. In an evaluation environment, the installer package is generally used to install Thin Desktop directly. Keep in mind, Thin Desktop is packaged like any other Microsoft application. Most customers use existing application deployment, installation and management methodologies when implementing Thin Desktop. Large scale deployment and inclusion in new images can also be easily achieved.

ThinDesktopUser is logged in, how do I get to the administrator screen?

Typical Microsoft security measures remain intact. CTRL-ALT-DEL and Log Off while holding the left Shift key will take you to the standard windows security dialog. Assuming you know the local administrator login information, you can return to the local desktop. Thin Desktop can also be managed from the command line or via many of the common network management products.

When installing Thin Desktop, what are some typical 'paths' for launched applications?

Microsoft’s RDP/RDA- C:WINDOWSsystem32mstsc.exe
VMware View- C:Program FilesVMwareVMware ViewClientbinwswc.exe
Citrix ICA- C:Program FilesCitrixICA Clienttest.ica
Citrix ICA- C:Program FilesCitrixICA Clientwfica32.exe C:test.ica

Note: Now that all Citrix products are under the XenDesktop name, there are a variety of implementation options. Please contact (or make comments in the comments section when you download the evaluation software) to ensure we address the specifics of your Citrix environment.

Can Thin Desktop launch an application other that the ICA, RDP or Horizon View client?

Yes. Thin Desktop can be configured to launch and monitor any applications executable on the device.

Can I use Thin Desktop to connect to my Terminal Service automatically?

Yes. Thin Desktop can be configured to launch MSTSC.exe (RDP client) at boot to connect directly to your terminal services environment. You can choose login pass through or require additional credentials.

Can I change or include the background, add a local printer, etc. for a user?

Yes, the Thin Desktop configuration file can contain a variety of setting and user information. See the user guide for details.

How do I request Technical Support?

See the Support Tab on our website, or contact us directly at Include details regarding the issue, screen shots, your phone number and any other details. You may also want to check out for our knowledge base.

How does Thin Desktop function as an Internet Kiosk?

Set IE to Kiosk Mode. Configure Thin Desktop to launch IE. The end user will then be able to use IE in Kiosk Mode, but will not be able to access the local operating system.

To really simplify the management of Internet Explorer, you can evaluate our  “Thin Browse” product. It is a user shell that sits on top of IE, greatly simplifying the configuration settings for end user access. Thin Browse also has a Kiosk mode, and can be locked down with Thin Desktop to control access to the underlying Microsoft OS. See the Thin Browse area of our website for additional information.

Can I download Thin Desktop and give it a go?

Please do – visit our Try it tab – let us know what you think!