NComputing is launching a new version of its software that will turn enterprise computing on its head, allowing as many as 100 users on lightweight clients to share a single server in a corporation or school.

If this new vSpace Server 6.5 edition is successful, then it could dramatically cut the costs of enterprise desktop computing and rewrite the rules of virtual desktop interface (VDI) technology, where one system supports many users or operating systems. NComputing’s software returns low-end computing to the old days of time-sharing, where dumb terminals connected to mainframe computers kept computing costs lower.

NComputing’s virtualization software allows several client machines — nothing more than monitors, keyboards and memory hubs — to share the computing power of a single PC. That way, one PC can deliver computing power to multiple users for lightweight purposes such as browsing the web or sending email. This setup works well in schools, emerging countries, big task-focused corporations and in retail. In the past, vSpace servers could handle no more than 30 users. Now the company will more than triple that number with the release of its new software.

Analyst firm IDC says that VDI-based desktop systems cost about $1,200 per user. NComputing can deliver the same functions for $300 to $400 in cost, said John Barco, senior director of product management at NComputing, in an interview.

“The economies of scale for NComputing are hard to ignore now,” Barco said.

The new software allows information technology and network managers to significantly reduce the number of hardware hosts, operating systems, and virtual machines needed to create a VDI platform with multiple users per server. That’s important because cost and complexity are the biggest barriers to the adoption of virtual desktops, said Raj Dhingra, chief executive of NComputing in Redwood City, Calif. The systems enable better security and are easier to manage. The lightweight clients include NComputing’s Numo system-on-a-chip that reduces a desktop to virtually a single chip.

The new features for the vSpace software include automated deployment, allowing thousands of virtual desktops to be configured and deployed in hours rather than days or weeks. Setting up 100 clients is now as easy as setting up just one. IT managers can now remotely view and control user sessions, allowing easier fixes on support calls. And the machines support PC applications such as good audio quality, microphones, and multimedia applicaitons such as Skype.

NComputing has more than 3 million clients deployed in 140 countries. The new vSpace Server 6.5 software is available immediately. NComputing has more than $150 million in funding.