WinFrame is a software product from Citrix that, together with a Windows NT operating system, allows a computer server to provide Windows applications and data for attached computer workstations. With Winframe, a company can install all applications and data at the server, simplifying administration, and possibly saving on application software cost. The low-cost workstations are known as thin client because they are minimally-equipped and because they contain client software that interacts with the server. To the user, the applications and data appear to be running on the workstation. WinFrame can be compared to two other thin client approaches, the Network Computer (NC) and the NetPC.

Up to 15 workstations can be supported by a server with Windows NT and WinFrame. The NT server computer needs 32 megabytes of random access memory (RAM) and an additional 6 to 8 MB for each attached workstation. Each user is allocated 32 MB of data storage on the server's hard disk.

A significant advantage of WinFrame is that it can make newer Windows applications available to older PCs. WinFrame can also handle users who dial in to the server (for example, mobile users and those working at home or in branch offices). There are two key components in the WinFrame approach:

1) The Intelligent Console Architecture (ICA) Windows Presentation Services, a protocol that manages the user (client) input and the server output so that the data that travels back and forth is reduced to a minimum. Data travels in compression packet.

2) The MultiWin Multi-User Architecture, which allows NT to manage a virtual session for each user of the same application.

Microsoft and Citrix co-developed Microsoft's Terminal Server product Edition of Windows NT 4.0, using WinFrame's multi-user technology. In addition, Citrix offers MetaFrame, a product that adds the thin-client/server interface to the Terminal Server. Together, the Terminal Server and MetaFrame replace WinFrame in Windows NT 4.0 and forthcoming versions.

This was last updated in April 2005

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