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Intel says new PCs will cost you nothing

If you buy now. And wait 10 months

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Intel says that upgrading your company's four-year-old PCs today will pay for itself in 10 to 17 months.

But you might say that the world's largest microprocessor manufacturer has a vested interest in such an upgrade.

Those figures come from an Intel-commissioned study conducted by R&D services provider Wipro and revealed today during a press gathering in downtown San Francisco by Robert Crooke, Intel VP and general manager of the company's Business Client Group.

The study surveyed CIOs, IT directors, and senior IT managers in 106 enterprise-level North American and European companies. Among its many findings, according to Crooke, was that "If you're buying a new set of PCs based on Core 2 Duo technology, you can recoup that investment in 17 months. If you pay a little bit more for your desktop PC with VPro technology ... you can recoup that investment in 10 months because of the increased operational benefit."

According to Crooke, the bulk of the savings in the PCs without VPro - Intel's remote-management and maintenance technology - come from reduced support costs and out-of-warranty repair costs of aging PCs.

To explain the advantages of VPro-equipped PCs, Crooke cherry-picked one enterprise from the study, Canada's Calgary Health. He claimed that the Canadian hospital network required five days to apply patches to 70 per cent of its PCs before VPro and four hours to install patches to 98 per cent of its PCs after the enterprise moved to a VPro environment.

Even taking into account the fact that Crooke understandably picked one of - if not the - most extreme example of VPro's effectiveness, the TCO improvement and vulnerability-protection agility of remote patching and management is impressive.

Crooke also pointed out that his 10-to-17 month projection didn't include any further savings due to enhanced security. Here, he also cited an interesting figure from the study: that four-year-old PCs have a 53 per cent higher "security incident rate" than do new PCs, and that a three year-old PC has a 30 per cent higher rate.

When pressed as to why newer PCs see fewer security incidents than do older ones, Crooke cited better performance of security software on newer PCs, along with improvements in firmware and modern software.

He emphasized, however, that the data was from what IT folks told Wipro: "This is measured data...this is them saying that a four-year-old PC has over fifty per cent higher security incidents than a new PC. That's an 'is.' That's what 100 guys demonstrated to them on the survey," he said. "You could argue with me what the reason is, but you can't argue with me that that's true."

But refreshing all of its PCs during the ongoing Meltdown would seem to be a low priority for an enterprise. Not so, said Crooke, citing the study. In the past six months, the study discovered, 60 per cent of the surveyed companies hadn't altered their refresh policy, 32 per cent have delayed PC refreshes, and 8 per cent are actually speeding up their refresh rate.

Not knowing what the companies' refresh policies were to begin with, it's hard to put too much emphasis on numbers regarding those policies' alteration. The survey's finding that two-thirds of the surveyed companies aren't pulling back on PC purchases, however, seems to be at odds with what Intel's president and CEO said during the company's recent financial-report phone call - namely, that enterprise acquisition of business-client desktops and notebooks "remains weak, reflecting constrained budgets and redeployment of older equipment."

Speaking of older equipment, Crooke said that the study also determined that a three-year PC refresh cycle is ideal when all factors - warranty, service needs, support costs, performance, and security - are taken into account.

Wrapping up his presentation, Crooke revealed his opinion of the bottom line of the Intel/Winpro study: "It's great to see surveys coming out now that show that one of the best ways to make a PC environment more secure is to buy new PCs." ®

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