Dear All,

We are running a GE 7FA machines for last 10 years which is having Mark VIe controller system. HMI is having cimplicity SCADA running on Windows XP.
As every one knows XP is out of the market, we want to upgrade the existing system.
GE came with new proposal of Thick client & Thin Client concept.
Thick client is existing hardware with new.
Where thin client is Control Server connected to HMIs.

1.Share your experience, ideas which is benefitable?
2. Does any one installed Thin client concept...

I have visited and worked at a couple of sites with this new Server concept. What I can tell you is this: It is complicated and not very well documented--even for GE systems, its not well documented. If there are ANY issues at all with the hardware or networking it's going to be difficult to obtain help from GE--and someone at your site is going to likely have to become a network expert to keep it working.

Further, the promise of the system is wonderful. The reality is entirely another thing. It doesn't live up to the promise.

You will get new Active Point displays--something new for the operators to learn. Very new. It's supposed to be simplified, but in reality they will spend a great deal of time learning where to find things they could find and get to very quickly. Some people like the new displays; most don't.

If you decide to pay the sum being asked for this new system, you need to dedicate one or two people to working VERY closely with the installer/commissioning personnel. You need to make them demonstrate that EVERY button on EVERY CIMPLICITY display does what it's supposed to do. EVERY single one. If you let those people go before doing that, you will be sorry; very, very sorry. Your dedicated person/persons need to very carefully review every feature of every display to make sure they are configured correctly and work correctly--before the installers/commissioning personnel leave the site. Because getting them back, or getting support once they are gone is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.

There is an option that many sites are choosing: Virtualizing the HMIs using software like VMware. This way, you isolate the MS-Windows environment from outside hacks/attacks. In many cases, the HMIs run FASTER in a virtual machine environment than they did on the HMI CPU when it was new. (This will, of course, involve purchasing new computers which should also be strongly advised of for no other reason than to get the newest hardware (motherboards; microprocessors; hard drives; etc.). You probably don't need new monitors, but if so now is as good a time as any to upgrade them, too.

This also has the added benefit of being able to use the current displays--with no additional training/familiarization required. This is a HUGE benefit which should not be overlooked.

This isn't really difficult to do, and you can probably find local resources to handle the virtualization process for you AND provide support if anything goes wrong or needs troubleshooting.

There's NOTHING wrong with virtualizing PCs (HMIs) running MS-Windows XP. It's a fine system, and as long as you understand it's limitations (it has a habit of fragmenting files and hard drives--so a good defrag program run regularly--is important. You don't need to update MS-Windows XP when it's run in a virtual machine--so that's one less headache to worry about. You don't even need to update the host software on the new computers (and it can even be Linux or MS-Windows 10 or 11--I run VMs on Windows 10 & 11 of HMIs regularly, and I can tell you they are pretty robust, and as I said above the guest software (the MS-Windows XP HMIs) loads MUCH faster and runs just as well or better than on the old PCs you probably have now).

So, this is an option which can greatly extend the life and usefulness of the existing HMI software for many years. I will make just this one comment about MS-Windows updates and VMware. If you opt to use MS-Windows 10 or 11 as the host software on the new virtual HMI PCs, and you choose to update MS-Windows (either 10 or 11) they will very often refuse to update if the version of VMware is not the latest and greatest. I don't know exactly why, but it has happened to me several times and its extremely frustrating. I have just uninstalled the current version of VMware, updated MS-Windows, and then re-installed the same version of VMware--and had no issues. BUT, this whole process can take several hours--per HMI. I would just keep the new PC isolated from the Internet, use and ENFORCE a strong policy for removable media (USB flash drives; CDs/DVDs; etc.) and only consider upgrading MS-Windows once a year or so, and plan accordingly for the time required. AND, make sure you have copies of all of the VMware software (including VMware Tools)!

Hope this helps! The complexity of the new GE HMI networks is very high, and there aren't that many field service personnel that know the network and understand it and can troubleshoot it. Again, in theory it has great promise. In actuality, it simply isn't ready for distribution and use. AND, if you buy it--DO NOT let the installers/commissioning personnel leave the site before you KNOW and have WITNESSED that every button on every display works properly and the display functions (bargraphs; indications; etc.) all work properly. 'Cause getting support after they leave site is going to be next to impossible. No matter what the salesperson says. Full stop. Period.
Hello CSA ,
Thanks for your sharing, my only concern is about windows xp licensing , I think that you will loose your license if you ligrate from OEM to Vmware , any legal solution please to suggest please?

Best Regards
Not true. I have several legal VMs (Virtual Machines) running fully legal versions of MS-Windows XP and even MS-Windows 7. If you have the licenses for them they can be activated. I have even purchased hard drives through ebay with licensed copies of MS-Windows and been able to use the licenses to activate VMs running MS-Windows.

In fact, if I recall correctly, I made ghost images of a couple of MS-Windows XP-based HMIs, used a utility of Acronis to restore the image to a VM that could be opened using VMware, and was never asked for a license (that I have because the original GE HMIs have been since destroyed after being "upgraded" to the latest and worst WorkstationST HMIs). I think older versions of MS-Windows XP didn't ask for license information when being opened in VMware, but newer versions did.

I even have one VM that continually asks me for a license number (even though I have entered it multiple times!) and it still runs--it just has a little annoying little message in the lower right corner of the MS-Windows desktop saying 'This is not a genuine version of Ms-Windows" (even though it is). It starts and runs just fine, it just asks me for a license every time I start the VM and when I say I don't have it (even though I do--it just won't take the number and activate even if it's connected to the Internet, and I've even tried calling MS for an activation number, but that doesn't work and MS isn't supporting that version of Windows and so won't help with the problem) it gives a little screen telling me it's illegal to use this unlicensed copy of MS-Windows. If the software police ever show up to my office have all of the documentation and license number--even screen captures of entering the information and the sticker that was on the outside of the original HMI CPU case.

Again, if you have the information (key number; original sticker or photo of the original license sticker; original CD/case with sticker; etc.) you have the proof you need if anyone asks.

Hope this helps!
Thanks for your response CSA. But I am sure its not true for windows xp sp2 OEM. Try it serval time. Its only work on the oem hardware Dell DC6600.
But you give me good idea I will try to find some HDD on ebay.

Thanks for yor sharing.