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back to article Are the PCs all getting a bit old at your office? You're not alone

Business PC refresh cycles are set to stretch even further, according to IDC analysis - heaping more strain on vendors and channel partners. This comes against a backdrop of declining global sales of desktops and notebooks, which fell by 4.1 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in 2012 compared to 2011. No near-term uptick is …

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No push to upgrade business machines anymore

I have two machines here - a 3.2 Ghz quad core desktop that is getting on for 2½ years old now, and an Atom 2700 based ITX machine that is less than 12 months old but let's face it: in terms of performance it is comparable to a regular desktop of perhaps 6 years ago. It is still the Atom that gets by far the most use, simply because it is plenty fast enough for 99% of my use and has the attraction of being considerably quieter. The near silence is something you couldn't have got 6 years ago but for bean counting purposes it's the performance that matters and there simply isn't any need to upgrade machines of that level of performance. If they run Office and a modern web browser that's the most demanding applications covered.

It's long been the gamers driving the PC market from a technology perspective, not business, for whom it is basically the need to run the latest version of Windows that is the usual key driver for upgrades. If you don't want the latest version of Windows, or indeed the current hardware it up to running it, that is an entire hardware upgrade cycle obliterated. When the time does come to upgrade whatever low end systems are bought are going to be so far in excess of anything actually needed, again, thanks to the gamers, that they'll be good for five or six years at least. The days of three year replacement cycles are firmly behind us.

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Business PC's don't even need to run the latest version of Windows. They only need to run the latest version of Windows that was bug free!

So that'll be Windows XP then :)

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

I'm currently doing a large-site PC replacement, and 99.9% of the users could function perfectly satisfactorily with Word Perfect and DOS. There's only been a handful that actually *need* the capabilities of the machines we've been installing, people doing things like brochure production, GIS database manipulation, architectural planning. Everybody else is just doing glass typewriter tasks.

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Linux

Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Nonsense. The tech has just gotten mature. Your old device doesn't suck so bad that you need a new one.

This is where tablets are now.

5 year old trailing edge PCs can still run circles around new ARM devices and do everything end users would request of them. If anything is wanting you can actually upgrade the old thing and keep it running even longer.

A 5 year old craptacular bought-it-because-it-was-the-cheapest-thing-I-could-find-at-the-time can even keep up with more modern machines that have nothing else going for them besides poor heat dissipation and a fruity logo.

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

> So that'll be Windows XP then :)

I think the situation is worse than "there is no need to upgrade" MS continual pushing out of new OSs and new versions of Office that no one actually wants is a positive disincentive to buy replacement machines. Why would you want to buy a shiny new machine when it is worse to use than the old one.

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Stop

I just checked

Apparently I can get used dual socket Xeon X64 quad-core servers for $150 each + $85 shipping. Capable of 64GB RAM and PCIe V2, VT enabled, these far surpass my needs for desktop systems unto the end of time.

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Paris Hilton

Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

The "three year cycle", at least in countries I happen to frequent, is based on the taxation legislation, rather than any notion of longevity of the capital equipment (in this case a PC).

Case: I bought an expensive piece of kit for my business. It died a fiery death 13 months later, out of warranty. My attempt to write off the remaining 2/3 of the asset in the second tax year was denied by the tax dept as the depreciation of PCs is fixed by them at 3 years. The fact that it was provably dead and "unfit for purpose" had no effect on their position. I sent it back to the tax dept. with a note that I could not afford the space & storage costs for the next 2 years and that they should 'look after it for me'.

Tax laws are the determining factor, not the product life.

Paris: Fit for purpose to be sure!

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Thumb Up

Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

I have the oldest machine in the office. It's a Dell Precision 390 4GB. It can do everything I ask of it.

Like every other machine in the office we swapped out the old hard disks with Intel 320 SSDs. That made everything sooooo much better. Now we can bypass a whole upgrade cycle. We all run Win7, Win8 is a disaster on wheels.

Money saved is money earned and all that!

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Indeed, my work laptop still runs Windows XP. Still works fine once it gets going (it takes 20 minutes to boot up but that's mainly due to corporate bloatware - if I boot it away from work it is quite quick).

I guess all that has happened is that PCs have been fast enough for any business purpose for the last 5 years or so, so there is no need to upgrade unless one breaks.

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Most of the new business machines we sell are either Celereon or Pentium E based machines, closely followed by Atom based machines. I think probably around 5% of the machines we sold last year had a Core i processor in them.

That also means that older machines, with Core i processors from the first generation are still more than fast enough for most purposes in an office today. Apart from graphics, CAD and a few other "high-end" tasks, you just don't need the horsepower these days. In fact, most of our developers are using Igel terminals, which run X sessions on our Linux servers or RDP onto the Windows Terminal Servers.

I'm now using an Atom based tablet (Windows 8) and that is plenty fast enough for the tasks I need to perform. Only the odd bit of image editing or running legacy software has me running to the 2 year old Core i5 PC in the corner.

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Stop

@Eadon

No, people will buy new PCs when the old ones stop working or become too slow. As Windows 7 was faster than Vista and 8 is faster than 7 on the same hardware, there is no need for most users to update.

Heck, my previous employer was still using Athlon XP2100+ machines with 1GB RAM 2 years ago! They were bought around 2003, but the company didn't see any need to upgrade them, they were just replaced when they stopped working - and they were replaced with Celeron and Pentium D based machines.

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Re: @Eadon

Basically there are three reasons to replace a box:

+ Lease time (3-5 years) is over. Replace with newly leased next gen system (corporate)

+ Box died or has components failing (fans) or to small/slow (HDD) and it's "old enough" (3 years/corp, 5-7 privat non gamer)

+ User profile changes i.e more mobile and desktop gets replaced by notebook / hybrid / convertible (and maybe a docking station)

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Actually older (1st gen) core-i units have almost as much processing power as the current ivy bridge. The integrated GPU is slower, the consume a tad more power and support (if at all) only older versions of WIDI (and maybe some hybernate modes).

All more important in mobile devices where the extra GPU speed is useful (okay post AERO this has gotten better) and the new WIDI (and Miracast) options can be very useful in presentations. Depending on what they deliver from the promisses the next gen core-i (Haswell) might be a good enough reason to upgrade mobile units (That and Baytrail are the reasons I am currently not buying a new unit - let's wait for what those offer)

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Re: No push to upgrade business machines anymore

Nasa seems to think windows is crap too:

http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/191-linux-training/711318-linux-foundation-training-prepares-the-international-space-station-for-linux-migration

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Fallacy

Traditional computers maker were caught out by the shift in the market to tablets and other portable systems; in 2012 fondleslab shipments grew 78.4 per cent and smartmobes climbed 46.1 per cent.

I don't believe the (negative) correlation implies causation. Portable systems are filling a need that didn't really exist before they did. Desktop replacement cycles have extended because the processing requirements of the business applications that run on these machines have stopped leap-frogging machine resources. This isn't likely to change again.

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FAIL

Re: Fallacy

Absolutely. We are an IT outfit. Updating websites and running SSH doesn't take a lot of grunt. We are 50/50 XP/Kubuntu. When XP is retired next year then why should we be forced to buy new kit to win Win 8 and have to relearn/relicense stuff that is of no discernible benefit?

Going 100% Kubuntu looks easier. Only takes 30 mins to re-load and no more re-activation issues. Wow, MS seems to pushing us that way ...

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Re: Fallacy

Who is going to write a ground-breaking application for a business machine, when the target market is still using Windows XP, IE 6, and single-core processors?

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Re: Fallacy@Kubla Cant

"the processing requirements of the business applications that run on these machines have stopped leap-frogging machine resources. This isn't likely to change again."

I'd agree with most of your post, but forecasting no further changes in the "desktop" space is a very bold call.

And there's other business changes that are afoot that will continue to reduce the need for PC's in their current guise. So call centre operatives only need a thin client machine, not the full fat (if basic) desktop that many companies specify because they always have done. And the finance and HR functions in many big corporates are being brutally cut back out of necessity, but what those companies are finding is that with only one third the number of support staff you achieve much the same useful outputs. In my company, 450 finance professionals have been whittled down to 150 or so. And it wasn't that the people were no good, it was that the business had grown used to having ten million reports, to having their own process errors being corrected by somebody else, and to having ad hoc queries handled immediately. The business still would like that, but it isn't prepared to pay for that luxury any more, and it has found that the simplified organisation on balance works rather better. Not as lean as an owner-managed business certainly, but moving that way.

So my 14,000 employee business of a few years ago is now around 10,000. Half of those posts that have gone were laptop or desktop PC users, so that's 2,000 PC's we won't be replacing. And if the company wise up to thin clients, then that'll be another 5,000 PC's we won't be buying.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fallacy

Agree, I would say that PC refreshes lagging has less to do with people using tablets instead of PCs and more to do with the fact that there is no need to upgrade. 10-15 years ago, you needed to upgrade every three years or the new software would not work on the old PCs. Now you can run every application you want to run on a five year old PC without issue. The CPUs and memory amounts have outpaced the software's need for them. As most of the apps have gone server side through a browser, increasingly all that is required of PCs is enough spec to turn a basic OS, a NIC and open a browser.... It is kind of annoying because most PCs, at the hardware durability level, were not meant to be used for 4-5 years even if the CPU, memory spec is sufficient.

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K
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Re: Fallacy

Completely agree.

I would even go further and say there is no justification to upgrade - Hardware just has not really improved for desktops or laptops. If manufacturers want me to part with my cash, they need to get more innovative. I f*cking hate Apple, but at least they try something new and not punting the same sh*t year after year!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fallacy

@AC 21:01

This might be why the business is shifting to Lenovo. The Think-branded products are one of the few ranges that have been engineered for more than 5 years life (OK, probably engineered for 3 travelling drinking salesman years, about 10 years to the rest of us).

I'd be interested to know know how much business Lenovo is picking up on Think-branded products vs. their consumer gear which is nothing special (although they still have nice keyboards).

Tonight I've been tracing a fault on a friend's budget ThinkPad, and compared to the usual "friend computer" it was so easy - download service manual, follow instructions, look up part number of failed part, go shopping.

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Boffin

Re: Fallacy

A virtual machine XP-in-a-box is the future! Clone your old machine and run it on a secure platform .

Linux could finally invade the desktop, as a secure VM babysitter for a legacy powerhouse!

Now, if you could 'slide' the OS and hypervisor (whatever) on to a system, so XP and the user didn't even know, you might have a serious business opportunity. The Window of opportunity is there.

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Re: Fallacy

Kubuntu is cool. It's quick on an old 1Ghz atom.

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Re: Fallacy

It appears more to me that devices like tablets are filling a niche that existed but was never catered to adequately. I always explain it to my customers thusly, a good percentage of my customers just want email, facebook and web browsing, in the 90's they HAD to buy a desktop, no tablets, laptops out of price range etc. In the 2000's they had a choice, reasonable priced laptops or a desktop, still, either of these provided far more funcionality than they ever used.

It's 2013, many kids now use their mobile phones for facebook, email and web browsing...oh and shopping, texting, taking photo's, sending said photo's to latest flame etc etc, a series of functions that once used to require at least 2, if not 3 seperate devices. Tablets and smart phones now fill a niche that already existed but was catered to by inadequate equipment, it was a no brainer at least for me to see that tablets/smartphones would usurp laptops/desktops in a significant percentage of cases, thus leading to lower PC sales.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fallacy

I used to work at a site where we had 100+ of those "traveling drinking salesmen", except they were traveling drinking engineers working in the shit holes of the planet - internet? what's that! we equipped them with sat-phones sometimes. Power was hard to come by sometimes which was hardly surprising since we built PGSs.

The IBM thinks were the only things that could cut the mustard. Attempts with other brands ended in dismal destruction and failure. I expect Lenovo has understood this and continues to produce reliable long lasting kit.

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Facepalm

Re: Fallacy

"This isn't likely to change again."

Tin foil hat on, how about this for a possible future:

Microsoft makes money from people buying a new PC with Windows and/or Office. Everyone knows PC sales are tanking, for the many reasons stated above and below. Microsoft then makes the next version of Office and/or Windows massively compute-heavy, thus forcing PCs to become obsolete faster (like the good old days). Ker-ching!

Hmm, I just read what I wrote, and actually that's pretty much exactly what they tried with Vista.

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Re: Fallacy

Actually the needs existed (as did tablet pc) for a decade before iPads. The technology is only now reaching the needed capabilities in processing power, battery duration and sturdy, fast data storage. Not to mention mobile data networks - less than a decade ago mobile data was slow and costly.

This has kept those units "specialist maschines" and costly. Having HP, IBM and FSC as the only manufacturers and Wacom as the only digitizer did not help.

The iOS/Android units are an intermediat step between those older units and the "new breed" of Atom (Baytrail) and core-i (Haswell) units we will see later this/early next year that can do "all the jobs" (desktop, notebook, tablet) on one device (Convertible or likely Hybrids). No matter what OS as long it is "one for all uses of the device"

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Congratulations PC makers!

You've finally achieved your goal; Desktops have become a necessary appliance!

Unfortunately, appliances aren't "shiny".

Nobody dumps their old stove, washing machine, etc., just to get the latest model adorned with all the newest bells and whistles, they use it until it breaks, then replace it.

Now here's the part Microsoft doesn't get; When an appliance is finally replaced, people look for one that's like their old one, because *nobody* wants a new stove that forces them to relearn how to boil water!

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

In the early days of personal computing, upgrade's were often made every 2 or 3 years because the performance gains were dramatic. I remember upgrading from my 286 to a 386. My 286 had MS-Dos 6.22. I had a hard time playing music on it, the ASCII games were stupid, and the internet was shell based. On the other hand, the 386 had a graphical interface (Windows 3.10), could play MP3's with ease, and the games were a whole lot more fun (Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, etc)

Now, I am writing this post on a 10 year old computer with a 3 Ghz P4 HT processor. I have a friend who has a computer with an 6 core i7, 32 gig DDR3 ram, and guess what? Almost 100 percent of what I do works equally well on both. Newer games work better on his, but Youtube comes through just fine.

In the corporate world, for the most part, existing systems work just fine. To upgrade would often provide fewer benefits and the conversion between the old system and new system would be expensive. In other words, if it ain't broke, why fix it. I think this is why corporations are very reluctant to upgrade

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Yep, why should I replace all of these Core2 and Core2Duo machines I have here with new ones? It's not like the users are going to notice significant improvements in Word and Outlook.

What I WILL do is replace the spinning iron inside them with SSDs, which makes a measurable difference, and costs a LOT less than all new PCs. Maybe a memory upgrade here and there too.

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Mushroom

Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Heh. Well, it's what they wanted...be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Consider Dell, for the moment. This is good, hold on. Got one of these postcards in the mail from them (I used to recommend them, long time ago); for $299.99, I can get an Inspiron 15.6" laptop with an Intel Celeron processor, Windows 8, 4 GB of RAM, and a 320 GB HD. Now, after you've stopped laughing at those specs, let's talk about what's wrong with this offer: Everything!

Let's see here. Windows 8, highly controversial, yet strangely the least unpalatable part of that offer. Intel Celeron processor...something of a mystery, with no model mentioned...and it's a Celeron...kind of chasing the bottom of the market there. 4 GBs of RAM...on a Windows 8 machine....I don't know if that's sad or funny...especially considering the laughable price of RAM these days. A 320 GB HD...might even be 7200 RPMs...which is really not useful for anything more than bottom of the barrel storage / performance (well, assuming it's 7200 RPMs, that would be about middling performance) these days. It's basically the cheapest machine they can produce, can barely run Windows...and will probably crash / fall apart under any kind of load. Probably not very upgradeable either.

Now, compare this to the laptop that is actually sitting on my desk. An HP Envy 17...complete with a real video card, 2 drive bays plus some room for a mSATA device...optical drive....i7....16 GBs of RAM....Windows 7....and it cost me probably less than $2K. Oh, a 240 GB SSD, and a 1 TB 7200 RPM HD. And so on.

Dell's entire flier here is built around cheapness. They can never upsell their customers (who buy Apple, I guess, when they want something nicer) because their product line is crap. I looked at their desktop line yesterday, the Inspirons, and the higher-end model seemed to max out at 12 GBs of RAM. This is a desktop, mind you. My desktop is maxed out at 32 GB of RAM. What more, every minor upgrade on Dell's website is a money soak. Want a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate instead of Windows 7 Home Premium? That'll be $180...the exact cost of an OEM copy of Windows 7 Ultimate from Amazon / Newegg. Want a printer? It will have last decade's features, and bleed ink. It's all crap. Purely the razor blade model to doing things.

And after a while of using low-end crap, where every minor performance upgrade costs a ton and delivers little, of course the customer is going to rebel, and only buy the bottom of the barrel crap! They've never driven a Porsche, do how the f*ck are they going to know it's better than the Lada they're currently driving?

The reason tablets are competitive with laptops / desktops, or so the marketing types think, is because the laptops / desktops that people have been buying / have been allowed to buy / are forced to buy are such crap, they are actually competitive in terms of performance! Drop the bottom of the barrel PC lines, mandate use of SSDs, and shoot anyone who thinks that continuously dropping features is the way of the future.

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Re: Congratulations PC makers! @Darryl

"What I WILL do is replace the spinning iron inside them with SSDs, which makes a measurable difference, and costs a LOT less than all new PCs. "

I thought this. But not all older LGA775 motherboards play nicely with SSD's, so things like recover from sleep or unexpectedly fast responses can lock your machine good and proper - this is what forced me to upgrade my home machine to a nice shiney i5, after trying an SSD upgrade. Also, on a machine of the age of a C2D it is feasible for an HDD to use most of the bus capacity of the mainboard chipset, so the fact that both motherboard and drive boast a 1.5 Gb/s SATA interface is irrelevant, and the gain of an SSD is dramatically reduced. Certainly a visible difference between the SSD in my C2D machine and the new i5, which I don't attribute to the CPU.

This is one of the little quirks of longer replacement cycles, that the legacy hardware is increasingly less likely to be compatible with the latest hardware. Another more mundane example is the fast declining availability of older memory, such that DDR3 is now half the price of the DDR2 likely to be compatible with your C2D machines. The same applies if you're unlucky enough to have IDE drives, where you'll be paying the same for a 160Gb drive as a 1 Gb SATA drive.

Ekeing out a well specced 2007 vintage machine might make sense, but the upgrades won't make the PSU or MB last any longer, so the relatively high cost of such legacy upgrades need to be considered against the likely lifespan they will confer.

Given that a basic business grade laptop (Intel i3) could be bought for £300 to £400, and circa £50 to upgrade the memory on your C2D, plus £100 for an SSD (not in the basic laptop admittedly), you'll have spent almost half the price on a largely less capable desktop, whereas buying the laptop and a docking station enables you to use existing monitors and keyboards easily? Or £430 for a brand new i5 tower and a 20" monitor?

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Headmaster

Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Youtube needs a core duo, a 3GHZ HT does SD, but fails at HD sadly. I agree with the rest of the post though. :)

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Boffin

Re: Congratulations PC makers!

I have a beef with some of your comments:

- ASCII (text mode) games are not necessarily any more stupid than graphical.

- 286 and earlier had several different GUIs available, including Windows 3.1

- 386's couldn't play MP3's with ease. Not Even Close.

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Writing this on a 10+ year old Athlon 1.4L with speed stripes. No more than 768MB of horse power.

Do I need more?

Personally, No.

It runs XP with office and IE8.

I'm not a gamer or graphic intensive user PS7 is enough.

Horses for courses, or check out BBC future article on winning the lottery/happiness.

Apologies for the punt. The Reg is generally my only source of CDMA aquired net info

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

It's not the hardware. It's the OS..

Interestingly enough, my 1.7 GHz Samsung arm Chromebook will not only play HD YouTube videos perfectly; it can also be attached to a 1080p flat screen TV and display the video smoothly and without any effort.

My (retired) 400 MHz white Macintosh with the default low end video card and no fans on the video *or* cpu could silently and smoothly play DVDs while doing processor intensive tasks like (slowly) converting a video file in the background.

I won't even go into what BeOS could do..

A question for readers is how fast a XP PC do you need to play a DVD?!?

In other words, how low can you go?

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

No, your 386 was unable to play mp3.. not enough processing power!!

You needed at least a 486 DX, and if the Mhz where low, most MP3 players skipped, etc.

My main computer is also old.. a 2 core 2GB machine...

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@lightknight

That Dell is pretty much exactly what the average office/Office user wants and needs (well - barring Windows 8, but there's not a lot of choice there now.) RAM is very cheap, but, like Win 7, Windows 8 runs perfectly well in 4Gb of RAM. The 320Gb HDD is never, ever going to be more than a third full and whilst horrifically unreliable and a bit slower than an SSD it's probably not THAT much more unreliable. These people don't really want a Porsche - what's the point if nobody else is going to see it and they're not into "cars" (read computers) anyway? They just want as cheap a machine as possible which will do the basics.

On the other hand, the HP Envy (certainly the model I've been dealing with over the past year or two) has to been one of the most unreliable bits of junk I've seen in a long time, far worse than the usual fraction-of-the-price Asus/Acer fodder! Oh, and much more difficult to get parts for...

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Not Quite. Each and every year the size and resolution of my display has grown, now 24". I expect the next one to come in at 27" as for the keyboard that's now illuminated, ahh, watch display in low light while being able to control computer.

Desktops for cheap screen real estate they simply can't be beat.

As for the percentage of smart phones, it really doesn't count when those numbers are in addition to. rather than instead of. Notebook certainly ate into desktops but now the push is for three devices.

Desktop is back for screen real estate, smart phone for mobile communications and that leaves device number three and that's controlled by the keyboard.

That excluded the biggest chunk of screen real estate the big screen TV, finally a logical use for a cheap tablet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Congratulations PC makers!

I'm using a Dell Celeron 2.8GHz WinXP which plays DVDs without any problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Congratulations PC makers!

He might have been using wav files. I'm not sure how he got these or how he could fit them on his FD/tiny HD. It is possible, but I smell BS. I doubt the poster even used a 386 much less a 286. I could be wrong though. He might have been an early x86 multimedia proponent. (snicker)

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

Back in the Mid '90s (around the time of the Pentium 90), I looked after some older IBM PS/2 Model 80s, which had 25MHz 386DX processors (they really were cutting edge at one time). I also had access to OS/2 running on various systems.

IIRC, there was a dancing animals (birds and monkeys) video shipped with OS/2 Warp that I managed to run on the PS/2s (AIX PS/2 with xanim ported, again IIRC). It was pretty low resolution, and the extension was .avi, although I don't know what the codec was (do I still have an OS/2 Warp install CD to find out - I must check), and these systems did not have sound cards, but they were running video. If they could do compressed video, I'm sure they would have been able to do MP3 audio.

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Happy

Re: Congratulations PC makers! @Ledswinger

I'm on board with *some* of what you say, but I think you're glossing over a couple important practicalities. £300-£400 business laptops typically don't have proper docking connectors (we're looking at Dell Vostros or HP Probook S machines) and thus would need something like generic USB docks (which I've used and some are OK). Some support external monitors, some don't, but typically you're looking at another hundred or so for those that do (or do adequately) - and these require the user to use their laptop's PSU, plug in a USB lead also, perhaps a network cable (although the Kensingtons we've been using have built-in networking), and generally do not work with the laptop's own video adapter (which can result in reduced graphics performance). Also, if you're running a big screen, it'd be handy if that dock were the USB3 version and your laptop supported USB3. A laptop that supports a proper docking solution is generally north of £450 ex VAT, the docking stations themselves (with built-in power supply, NIC and video out from the laptop's video adapter) are frequently north of £90 for a basic dock, another £90 for a monitor stand and so on - the costs mount up (I am assuming that one already has a monitor). Conversely, I have upgraded well-specced laptops that were three, four, even 5 years old, that work with docking stations that we already have and the users have been delighted with the effects of the £130 I spent doing so. I would also note that if one's now buying cheap machines you have to factor in a shorter lifespan for those as well.

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Re: Congratulations PC makers!

A question for readers is how fast a XP PC do you need to play a DVD?!?

In other words, how low can you go?

I have a low-end Acer netbook with a 1.3GHz Atom Z520 (with 1366x768 screen, so the exercise isn't entirely pointless) and with an external USB DVD player that can play a DVD. I'm using Ubuntu on it, but it was supplied with XP so I suppose it counts as an "XP PC"?

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@lightknight Re: Congratulations PC makers!

1. This is an article about mainstream business computers and only outside workers are going to be using laptops, in other words a tiny minority.

2. Have you ever looked at how much of your 32 GB of RAM is actually in use? Unless you are editing movies or TV or doing large scale CAD/CAM you are wasting money and driving up power consumption for no reason.

3. $2,000 is more than double what a good price is for a business laptop.

4. Tablet computers are useful for people walking around warehouses I suppose, but not much else in business.

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Re: Congratulations PC makers! @Ledswinger

Why do you need a docking station for your laptops?

Surely your people will get used to the laptop screen and keyboard. At work they can connect to peripherals via the LAN and at home via a USB hub.

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FAIL

@lightknight

That sounds like the average spec of machines our customers request (Celeron or Pentium E with 2 - 4GB RAM and a small HD).

The machine I am writing this on is an Atom with 2GB RAM and a 64GB eMMC "drive", running Windows 8 - I am dual-heading it with the internal 11.6" display and an external 24" monitor. For the work I need to do, it is more than fast enough and the 2GB isn't a limitation for most tasks. I only use my old machine for editing graphics and maintaining our telephone exchange - the software comes out of the stoneage and only runs in XP-Mode on the old machine!

For many users, that $299 latop will be more than they need.

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