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Intel: Just 3,000 employees run Windows 7

And you should bin 4 year old PCs

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Cebit Intel's CIO showed why it might take a while for Microsoft to make much of a dent in the XP-installed base yesterday as she urged the world to scrap any kit more than four years old.

Diane Bryant came on stage at Intel's Cebit kickoff press conference in the wake of a video that described Intel as "sponsors of the future" and "forging tomorrow's normal".

Bryant then showed just how normal Intel was, by saying she faced the same pressures as any other CIO, balancing a 45 per cent growth in computer demand with flat budgets. Intel's IT spend this year would be flat, she said, and was the same level as 2005. This roughly corresponded to the worldwide picture, with spending this year stuck at around $3.4 trillion.

Storage was an increasingly large portion of its IT investment, she said, currently taking around 35 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, the firm has a pretty rapid churn of kit. Bryant said that after four years, it cost more to support a client PC than to replace it. Road warriors - sales people and the like - got a new PC every two years, she said. Engineers had to wait three years, though we presume Intel's techies are more than capable of souping up any creaking machines while waiting for an upgrade.

Bryant said that new client PCs typically had solid state storage - the firm sticks to mobiles for all its client PCs.

The "beat" was similar with servers. As well as the support cost outstripping replacement cost after four years, she said, shifting to new servers gave the chance to consolidate, with 14 ageing servers typically being replaced by one new box.

At the same time, Intel's IT department was slashing its number of data centres as part of a commitment to return $650m of "value" to the firm. So far, it had cut from 147 datacentres to 95, Bryant said, and was a third of way through the value commitment.

Intel may have a point on the cost of supporting kit that is older than four years. But it's also worth remembering how that fits in with capital depreciation schedules and its own need to keep customers churning through new kit.

Still, while Intel's numbers and upgrade cycle may seem dizzying to some IT managers, there is one issue where it is wading through syrup like everyone else.

Despite the firm's rapid turnaround of PCs and its very public partnership with Microsoft, Bryant said that so far it had shifted just 3,000 of its 80,000 plus employees onto Windows 7.

Still, Intel has been making a lot of noise about the remote upgrade abilities of its vPro chips. So, if Bryant and her successors stick to the schedule that should be sorted in another three and a half years or so. ®

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