Desktop PC popularity 'to plummet' by 2007

Desktop PC popularity 'to plummet' by 2007

Summary: In three years, less than half of corporate users will be reliant on a desktop PC, according to the Meta Group

TOPICS: Hardware

Within three years, less than half of corporate workers will use a desktop PC as their primary information device, with the majority switching to notebooks and the rest connecting over a thin client, according to the Meta Group.

The desktop PC has been the corporate user's main information tool for about 20 years, but with the falling cost of laptops and the rapid evolution of wireless networks, Meta expects the PC's popularity to plummet as information workers adopt new technologies.

Steve Kleynhans, vice president of Meta's technology research services, said that 45 percent of corporate users will still use a desktop PC as their main information tool, but 40 percent will prefer a notebook or tablet PC, while the final 15 percent will migrate to a thin-client or an alternative "information appliance".

Kleyhans describes 60 percent of information workers as "corridor warriors" that roam from meeting to meeting. These types of workers could be more productive if they had "access to basic information (for example, email, IM, or Web browsing) and note-taking capabilities while attending meetings on premises," he said.

Although the desktop PC is far from dying, its importance as a tool for accessing corporate information and communicating with colleagues is diminishing. "By 2007, the average user will interact regularly with at least four distinct computing devices -- a personal home PC, smart digital entertainment system, corporate computer, and mobile information device," Kleynhans said.

Kleynhans also predicts a reincarnation of the smart display. Microsoft recently killed off its consumer-focused product, but Kleynhans said he expects the technology to reappear in the corporate environment, due to the need for roaming access to data while on the corporate premises.

"The devices could even be shared among users or possibly kept in meeting rooms. Any costs should be outweighed by the increase in meeting productivity for most knowledge workers," said Kleynhans.

Blade servers, which combine many low-cost PCs inside a single chassis, are gaining in popularity and can produce significant cost benefits when used to deliver specific applications or an alternative operating system, or to provide dedicated processing power. "Blades will become a commonplace solution implemented primarily in the same places that Citrix/Windows Terminal Server (WTS) solutions are currently applied," Kleynhans said. "By 2006, blades will replace traditional PC form factors for roughly only 10 percent of users."

Topic: Hardware

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Thing computers make much more sense for corporate users.

    As an office worker myself writing this while I wait for Microsoft Access to query a database, I can see several idle computers on my colleagues desks.

    Surely a system (such as thin clients) where large amounts of resources can be delivered instantly to the people that need it at the time is far better than a system where a high percentage of the resources are being waisted on people typing simple word documents and sipping coffee etc.

    Being a sceptic I think the computer companies already know this however companies like Microsoft and Dell make A LOT more money selling companies hundreds of around
  • There are certain ideas which, no matter how totally wrong they are (at least based on how the market reacts to them), just will not die.

    This is one of them.

    Microsoft's Mira (SmartDisplay) was a perfect example of why this doesn't work. It was a portable LCD display which cost as much as a laptop and didn't work as well.

    The chief problem with all of these thin client concepts is that unless you're at a desk, connected to a reasonably fast network and a large server, they don't work. Walk away from the office - like on an airplane - and bang - the device goes dead. Lose your network or have a server crash - bang the ENTIRE office goes down.

    Worse, you're asking the user to put all their eggs in one basket by keeping their files on a central server somewhere and hoping that their IT department is keeping everything safe. It also means all personal documents are also on the server. It's very convenient to put it all in one place if someone wants to get access to it.

    Then there's cost. A PC can be had for under a grand. Even a laptop can be had for under a grand. Most of what's in those will still have to be in the thin client, so the overall cost of this is going to be similar, if a little less, than a full PC - but with none of the advantages.

    Finally, with a network of full PCs, you can use them to do things you can't with thin clients. Take Apple's XCode. It can distribute large compiles over all other Macs in a network if they're not being fully utilised. That would be very difficult with a thin client box.

    No. the thin client is an idea which only helps one group: IT - and at the cost of productivity and stability everywhere else in the company. it's a bad idea. Let's move on.