Fair crack of the chip

There's no doubt modern microprocessor technology has permanently enhanced the IT landscape. The desktop has evolved from a glorified calculator to a marvel of real-time 3D gaming. But what about us enterprise PC users? Must we be forced into this abhorrent trap of perpetual upgrade cycles?

Like most enterprise users, I question where all this technology is headed and how it will benefit business. Sure I need to surf the Internet, read my e-mail, and use a word processor, so why should I be compelled to invest in bleeding-edge desktop power to achieve this?

When Windows XP burst onto the scene the year before last, there was an outcry. Not because it was a quantum leap between its stability and that of its predecessor Windows 98, but because the “minimum” hardware specifications required to run it had leaped dramatically.

Instead of a 600MHz machine with 128MB of memory and a few hundred megs of disk space required for Windows 98, Windows XP demanded gigahertz of CPU cycles, 256MB of memory and a whopping 1GB of disk just for the OS.

So in order to get the stability and (dare I say) security enhancements of XP, IT departments needed to fork out for a new fleet of desktops and find out what to do with their “legacy” systems which had about as much exit value as a yesterday’s newspaper.

In the space of a few years it seems as much more money has been sunk on desktop upgrades as a king’s ransom.

Where will it end? Will the next version of Windows require a higher level of grunt than the XP benchmark systems?

Walk into you local bank, take a look at the screens used by the tellers and then ask yourself how old they are. If bank tellers can get by on almost fossilised screens for their everyday duties, why can’t your average enterprise worker? My point is simple. If most enterprise desktop users only need simple, lightweight applications in order to fulfil their regular duties productively, why do we submit to bottom-line wishes of the PC manufacturers?

It’s time for IT departments to take a stand. It’s time for us to rethink major operating system overhauls in favour of a more modular approach to software upgrades. That way, at least desktops won’t forever be the quicksand of the IT department. w

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