In this poll we are trying to get a handle on whether readers are considering breaking with old habits when it comes to desktop refresh strategy. We've talked about the combined impact of the credit crunch and Windows Vista – causing a hiatus and giving organisations time to think about their own needs rather than rushing off …
I may skew the results a little
due to my organization being my home. Custom built desktops all the way (one serving as a ... server), factory laptops (a few with linux either straight or dual boot with windows), and a few small form factor custom desktops (ITX form factor - one built inside of an old NES) with one running windows (for legacy apps) and the other running linux. I even have an old laptop (386) running DOS set up to read OBD-II codes since it has a car power adapter. My household hasn't even felt this recession so to speak. In fact, the lower interest rates have helped us save for a house. Hoping to move in to one some time Q2 2010.
What stopped me buying a new PC...
...was that my old one, built in 2003, still does the job it was intended for - and with luck, has not yet broken down or required bits and pieces I can no longer buy.
Buying one of the 1,000 GeForce 7900GTs that were made available for AGP in 2006 helped, too - as I don't feel so out-of-sorts when it comes to a quick blast of Unreal Tournament. Unfortunately, it kind of hurt Intel's bottom line, because it meant I have stuck with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 for a lot longer than I would have, otherwise.
There is no need to upgrade/change my current kit - what I have already works fine. It's fast enough, despite much of it being several years old now - the applications run just as well now as they did 5 years ago. I would gain nothing from updating it other than maybe getting rid of a bit of dust.
We're split. A few machines are mandated by higher-ups and run Windows. They are at least 2.8s, anything older runs too slowly with the virus scanner, domain policies, etc. etc. thrown on them. I work at a computer surplus, so we try to supply used machines for them to image. I get my real work done on Ubuntu systems, which we also upgrade quite slowly -- I could do everything I'm doing now on a P3, so running it on a P4-1.8 is no big deal. We're gradually moving up towards 2.4s and 2.8s just due to the age of the 1.8 systems.
Last year I bought a quad core 3gb 1tb Medion with vista, uhg. I was researching downgrading to XP. I had a copy of xp pro on my old pc AMD XP2400 Athlon. I found the vista useful for controling the installs done on my pc's by my boys, I get to preview all.
At the ex's home where the boys live my old xp pc is grinding to a halt. There was some nasties found on it but not too much. She uses a mobile dongle for the net, doesn't work very well, always dropping out.
Having 2 boys 10 & 15 I have found that UAC is definitely worthwhile.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Hardware isn't the expensive part. Licensing is. Reduce the licensing costs as much as possible with volume licensing and VDI. (ESXi is free, and works just fine, thank you.) Reuse your existing desktops by taking the time to properly refurbish them for another three years in the field. Recycle your existing license suite by stepping back and asking yourself "is there an actual need to upgrade to the latest version of a given piece of software, or indeed any advantage at all?"
I admit that newer software has some snappy features...but if you are a small business, a $6000 server running ESXi can host 25 desktop VDI instances, and several servers. (Or a copy of SBS, or what-have-you.) It can probably also give you snappier performance for each desktop VM than your collection of turn of the millennium Windows 2000 boxes that you pray every morning won't die on you today.
Keep your old server software as long as possible, virtualised everything, and refurbish your old desktops as thin clients. (Bear in mind licensing restrictions that may prevent this, of course.) Oh, and of course, never, ever again buy a copy of any software that doesn’t allow for virtualised use, or restricts itself to usage on a single physical computer.
All the above with the understood caveat that this will not work for everyone.
Role reversal needed
As I understand it, Microsoft likes to dictate to the OEMs. And the OEMs and then we have to take whatever MS shovels out. And... this doesn't work well for two sides of this three-way.
Perhaps this latest string of releases - XP, Vista, W7 - will be the object example that wakes up the manufacturers to the threat to their bottom line. The manufacturers should realize that their long-term prospects are impacted by Microsoft's problems.
$work$ is still trying to decide what to do next. But I can speak from my own experience. The date rolled around this summer when OEMs could offer later upgrades to W7, and order #1 went in to Dell. Just ordered #2 yesterday. Later this week I'll do #3. These 3 replaced PCs were 8, 8, and 4 years old.
Dell might think it was any one of several reasons why I decided to replace the home office machines for myself and wife. But the truth should concern them greatly.
It wasn't age (aka replacement cycles). It wasn't money (aka "the economy"). It was what Microsoft had to offer. I wasn't going to disrupt my working environment (or my wife's) with a broken OS.
The OEMs' drought resulted purely from a lack of good output from Microsoft. There is no rejoicing in the parched land when the clouds open up with only "golden showers".
Now the OEMs will get a substantial bump from sales of new units provisioned with an acceptable OS. ('acceptable' is not an unabashed endorsement here) Perhaps it will be several quarters worth of good news.
But the cycle will come back around to the crux of the relationship between Microsoft and OEMs. Can OEMs require a minimum competence from MS?
Aren't the perennial questions in software development: when, how good, how much? Why is it that OEMs can't ask for some minimums with regard to those?
If 'when' is more than two years, the harvest will be blighted from the third year. if "how good" is "cracks your teeth" the sheaves will get the shove. if "how much" is "all we can tax" then other lands will receive the refugees.
Too often complaints about lack of competence from Microsoft are rejected using one rationale or another. Anyone noticing problems is discredited in one way or another. If a technical fault is noted, 'realities' are used to explain it. If a business flub is mentioned, technical difficulties are used to explain it.
I have to think that the OEMs have some position from which to speak and ought to start chiming in with a simple request for "good business sense". OEMs have a business to run and they must demonstrate basic competencies or fail. Their 'partners' must also be reliable in performance and products.
In all the ferocious arguments surrounding MS, and in too much of the inanity that that consisted of, where was the simple demand for salable products by Microsoft's partners, the OEMs?
If every criticism of Microsoft is laid to partisanship, if that remains the case, then Microsoft has no reason to do better. But if people make free with a straightforward "this is not how to run a good business", and it is apparent they have no political affiliation, perhaps the root cause can be recognized?
The grocer doesn't care about religious controversies over apples vs. mangoes. They do care when they are shipped nothing, or rotten and unsalable fruit, rejected by _their_ customers. Nothing to sell is nothing sold.
They need to stay in business, and if they can't switch suppliers, why can't they at least put signs in the front window, "no fruit for sale, last shipment by the MessrS not fit for purpose - please please come again".
Hardware upgrades for CAD and/or .NET only
We use Solidworks CAD in engineering. It requires more raw power with each release, so new PC's go in there every couple of years. We also have a .NET based ERP application that is proving to be resource hungry. Still running XP though. NOT interested in Vista and only mildly interested in 7.
Then in the back room... I actually miss Win2K and standalone servers. We migrated to SBS 2003 & reliability has dropped significantly. Some tasks appear to be easier but it seems like time saved on those is wasted+ on troubleshooting bizarre issues. Also, once you're committed it's really hard to back out. Licensing, WOW did we end up taking a bath over the past few years.