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Workshop We know from readers of the Register that the age of desktop estates vary greatly, not just between different organisations, but in many cases also inside them.

We have also uncovered evidence (in our soon-to-be-published desktop report), that there is a firm link between user satisfaction and perception of good IT service with desktop and laptop kit that users consider ‘old’. It is equally apparent that organisations are attempting to keep their PC systems operational for longer than they have in the past, but it is also clear that systems do need to be refreshed from time to time. So what are the major drivers to make such changes?

First we can bank the obvious examples, of machines that suffer some catastrophic hardware failure. Whether this is a result of accident, age of equipment or user stupidity is irrelevant: the net result is to get some new kit in. For some problems it may be possible to replace the damaged or non-operational component, whilst in other scenarios this approach may cost more than simply replacing the system with a new machine.

Other situations may result from users “outgrowing” their equipment and requiring something bigger (or indeed, smaller), faster and better. Once again, taking the approach of updating the operational limiting component may be straightforward, but for many it will prove to be either too complex or expensive. Cue the upgrade which has a knock-on effect on the rest of the system, such that once again an entirely new PC may become the preferred option.

A major cause of such upgrade-or-replace scenarios is the need to support some new application that just will not operate on the existing kit. Alternatively, new machines have traditionally been purchased alongside operating system upgrades. In the past, the release of a new Windows operating system has frequently resulted in a need to refresh the PC estate. Traditionally, new OS or new application versions have demanded higher hardware kit specifications – though perhaps Windows Vista was the last nail in this particular coffin.

It will be interesting to gauge the effect of the release of Windows 7 into the corporate world. Unlike older operating systems releases, Windows 7 has lower “practical” minimum hardware specifications than Vista - at least, that's what the word is. It still needs a hefty amount of memory, but can run on a less powerful processor, so its advent alone may not drive a huge upswing in PC hardware acquisition.

Let’s remember however that Vista adoption has been extremely low and this has led to many organisations keeping Windows XP running as the platform of choice in business – with the result that many organisations are still running kit that could be considered well past its sell by date. We are seeing signs (again from the research) of a ‘rubber band effect’ – having leapfrogged Vista and survived the downturn, many organisations are starting to plan more significant upgrades of their desktop environments. Does this fit with your own experience – or not – and what does drive you to refresh or replace your PC and laptop estates?

Please drop us a line in the comments section below if you have any projects underway, or planned for the next year. Whether you are looking to replace hardware estates with new kit - or indeed if you’re considering using some form of desktop virtualisation rather than desktop replacement - we’d love to hear from you.

Freeform Dynamics Ltd

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