I had been a mild advocate of HP hardware for a brief time (best of the worst you might say), but I’ll have to withdrawal even that mild support.  First, two people that I’ve recommended HP to have had their systems die (dead laptop display on one, dead desktop with the other).  Secondly, I liked their thin clients from several years ago and for some reason I keep ordering the things even though the software therein has treated me horribly.  The terminal I got last year was a t5570 with Windows Embedded 2009.  This travesty came with a stripped out version of Windows XP that required a secret handshake to boot to admin mode, and then required several attempts to install a certificate onto it for RDP Network Layer Authentication (NLA) since the decrepit OS only has certificates from 2004, or something, I don’t now.  HP was ZERO help in getting this thing to behave.  Not to be outdone I later ordered some of t510 models.  These time sinks feature a butchered version of Ubuntu that cannot hook into NLA*.  Why HP thinks that it’s a-okay to ship new hardware with such a basic functionality missing is beyond me.

To go with the terminals are a batch of WCS9000 CCD Wasp scanners: absolute crap.  If the barcode is huge, shiny, and very close, there is no problem, otherwise expect to be keying in the info.  They would probably suggest one of their ‘up’ models; but this piece of junk is already closing in on $200 and it doesn’t work.  If they have no scruples about shipping something that doesn’t work, why would I buy something else from them? (We ended up getting a Honeywell 3800g scanner which is an amazing device for a handheld scanner; they may be hard to come by though).

Ah that brings us to Microsoft’s latest offerings.  By now we all know about the horrible Windows 8 interface, but why did they chose to curse the server version with it.  Rare are the cases anymore where someone is physically at a server (if there even is a server to be physically at).  Who at MS thought that it was excessively clever to use those floating corner cursor moves on a remote control interface?  It barely works when you’re at the system itself, but due to inevitable lag on even the fastest remote connections, it’s hard to tell if the menu will ever pop up.  As well, Server 2012 has ZERO metro apps, so every app that’s opened just boots you back to the desktop, and if you haven’t pinned everything to the taskbar you’ll be forced to remote float in the corner again to bring up the useless start screen.  I also need to add that they’ve removed various management tools as well, especially those related to Remote Desktop Services.

And then there’s Microsoft Exchange 2013.  Here MS has completely removed the management app, replacing it with a buggy, stunted web interface.  They’ve also taken the time to remove some functionality from the package as well (have fun trying to get the certificates and names to behave).

*With NO help from HP, I was able to get the t510 thin client to hook into Terminal Servers running NLA.  It turns out that the issue is somehow related to NLA terminal servers that are using commercially signed SSL certificates.  If you use a self signed certificate it works fine (after a warning).  Note that the terminal will still not work (by default) if NLA is optional on the server if the server still uses a commercially signed certificate as the t510 RDP client will automatically try to upscale the encryption and fail with an error like “RDP CLIENT ERROR: Critical RDP client error” (GUI) or “segmentation fault” (terminal shell).  Anyway, I created a custom app on the terminal that executes the RDP client as a shell command  ‘xfreerdp -u userName –ignore-certificate serverName’.

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