Amazon introduces $195 Workspaces Thin Client to provide secure cloud desktop access for enterprises

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has unveiled the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client, a Fire TV Cube look-a-like device that is aimed at simplifying access to cloud-based virtual desktops hosted on the Amazon WorkSpaces service. Notably, it extends its support to Amazon WorkSpaces Web, offering users the flexibility to access virtual desktops directly through a standard web browser.

Amazon announced the launch of the device in an official statement and a blog post, claiming that the device “improves end-user and IT staff productivity with cost-effective, secure, easy-to-manage access to virtual desktops.” The Thin Client is pocket-friendly as well – Amazon noted that it starts at $195 per device (which is far less expensive than a laptop). Consumers (in this case, mostly organizations) will find it available at Amazon Business, and it is preconfigured and shipped directly to them.

“Customers told us they needed a lower-cost device, especially in high-turnover environments, like call centers or payment processing,” Melissa Stein, director of product for End User Computing at AWS, commented on the matter. “We looked for options and found that the hardware we used for the Amazon Fire TV Cube provided all the resources customers needed to access their cloud-based virtual desktops. So, we built an entirely new software stack for that device, and since we didn’t have to design and build new hardware, we’re passing those savings along to customers.”

Underpinning the WorkSpaces Thin Client is the hardware of Amazon’s Fire TV Cube. With an eight-core processor boasting a clock speed of 2.2 gigahertz, 2 gigabytes of memory, and a 16-gigabyte storage drive, the device inherits the capabilities of its consumer-oriented counterpart. However, it diverges with an entirely new software stack meticulously tailored for virtual desktop use cases. Consumers can use existing USB and HDMI ports in order to connect to a desktop and other productivity peripherals such as dual monitors, mouse, keyboard, camera, and headset. Amazon notes that the Thin Client has “has purpose-built firmware and software; an operating system engineered for employees who need fast, simple, and secure access to applications in the cloud; and software that allows IT to remotely manage it.”

A noteworthy feature of the WorkSpaces Thin Client is its seamless integration with two additional AWS cloud services—Amazon AppStream and Amazon WorkSpaces. While AppStream aligns with the use cases of WorkSpaces, it differentiates itself by hosting virtual desktops containing multiple applications and providing individual applications to employees directly from the cloud.

Another interesting feature of the Thin Client is the access to efficient device management. Organizations can centralize the management of their fleet through the AWS Management Console, and this control hub empowers IT leaders to regulate user access, define application permissions, and monitor device usage. A complementary monitoring tool facilitates real-time tracking of device activity, ensuring devices run the latest software and receive timely updates.

It remains to be seen whether the arrival of the Thin Client can address the challenges posed by traditional virtual desktop deployment, particularly in industries where secure and streamlined device management is of paramount importance. Virtual desktops, hosted in centralized data centers, have emerged as a cornerstone in cloud computing, providing a remote alternative to traditional workstations. To enhance the efficiency of interaction with cloud-based services, many enterprises have turned to thin clients, cost-effective computing devices specifically optimized for seamless engagement with these services. Amazon is mitigating security risks in the case of the Thin Client as well – diverging from its consumer-focused counterpart, this device’s software is intentionally configured not to store files locally, eliminating the risk of data theft if the thin client goes missing.