NComputing, the leader in what I've always called desktop thin client (they prefer desktop virtualization, which I consider a somewhat broader category), has announced a partnership with Microsoft that may enhance their ability to penetrate key markets including the education sector.
The NComputing system allows multiple users to share one desktop, keying off of the generally under-used capabilities of todays machines. Their sweet spot to date has been school computer labs, but their gear could also be used in small businesses.
From a utility energy efficiency program perspective, the technology presents a bit of challenge. An NComputing system is clearly cheaper than buying desktops for each user, so new construction/new installation incentives are not doable.
(In the absence of some clear market barrier other than cost, utilities won't generally take the risk of paying incentives for a product that is cheaper than the less-efficient alternative.)
However, rebates could be paid for customers that remove existing desktops as a result of implementing thin client technology, in a manner similar to incentive programs for server virtualization. (Happy to work with vendors and utilities on setting up such a program.)
Now there is a huge swath of the IT industry that doesn't like the idea of this technology taking off and grabbing significant market share. After all, it would mean fewer future desktop sales and fewer refreshes. It's no surprise then that Microsoft is NComputing's partner.
What I would like to see, but won't hold my breath for, is a leading desktop manufacturer offering a bundled package for school labs using desktop thin client (and maybe wireless connection of peripherals for easy installation). I think they'd build good market share, and could claim that they are really helping the education market by providing effective, low cost, and energy efficient solutions.
One vendor I know of likes to say that what we really need to do is put a laptop in the hands of every student. All well and good as a sentiment, but let's be realistic about what the market can afford.