Big business stretches desktop lifecycles

Big business is pushing its desktops way beyond the average three-year lifecycle due to cost and time pressures.

But, according to a recent survey, the next six months could see a spike in sales of PCs to large companies which face the prospect of replacing extensive desktop fleets that were installed in the run-up to Y2K and are now about to come out of their three-year warranty period.

IT managers told independent analyst S2 Intelligence that the time required for application upgrades, an average of 12 months, and the cost of associated hardware was the main deterrent to upgrading the operating system. IT managers from 20 randomly selected large enterprises and three outsourcing desktop service providers responded to the survey by S2, which is run by former Gartner analyst Bruce McCabe.

The survey into desktop migration trends also found that skipping every second release operating system is a common strategy amongst IT departments.

The average lifespan for desktops is about three and a half years, with some enterprises stretching that to five years, according to the survey. However, replacement activity is starting with seven of the respondents planning to start within the next six months. The migrations will be spread over a period of months or, in some cases, years.

IT managers are under increased pressure to upgrade as extensive desktop fleets installed in the lead up to Y2K are coming out of warranty.

Upgrade plans for desktops strongly correlated with migration plans for the operating system-most IT managers saw coinciding the two events as the most practical approach.

The most common reason to migrate, respondents said, was concern about support; a lack of support for older Microsoft OSes and a need to standardise to provide effective internal support were also cited.

The survey also showed that while Microsoft continues its reign on the corporate desktop, XP has yet to get a foothold in corporate Australia. None of the respondent enterprises had installed XP in a production environment.

Windows 2000 and NT4 showed up in the survey as the dominant operating systems, while Windows 95 and 98 (9x) and even pockets of Windows 3.x were still in use.

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Siobhan Chapman

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