Up until the first of this month I worked at Sun Microsystems. We used Sun Rays which are basically terminals that I could put my smart card into and have my computing environment immediately available. At Sun your smart card was your badge and it gave you access to your environment where ever you happened to be working. When you use a Sun Ray your whole computer is in a server room somewhere and the server just displays your environment where ever you are. Essentially your smart card is the key to accessing your computing environment.
Since starting at Intuit I’ve switched to a traditional Microsoft environment. What I’ve noticed though is that many people use their laptop the way I used to use a Sun Ray smart card. They plug the laptop into a docking station and then work on a terminal and keyboard that is stationary in their office.
I totally understand that there are very basic differences in the two environments but if you think about it from a user perspective and don’t worry too much about where the CPU is located then you can perhaps see the laptop and the Sun Ray smart card converging. in both cases you plug them in and your environment shows up on essentially a dumb terminal where ever you are.