The 300 million PC problem

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Rajesh Jain:

"[This] the first big opportunity for Linux and the server-centric computing architecture. Convert these older machines into thin clients (TCs). That eliminates the need for upgrades (forever). It saves organisations money both on hardware and on software (Microsoft XP, other new versions). For a start, organisations should see who needs to run only the base set of applications – browser, email, wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation, IM – and switch them over the a Linux TC."

For how long have we been hearing this? Since at least 1995 when Larry Ellison explained the NC would kill the fat PC. Should have been the NS, standing for "No Show." Yes, you can repurpose old PCs as thin clients, though corporations don’t need Linux for that, they can keep their old Windows desktops and serve them with Terminal Services or Citrix.
However, there’s always a limit to what you can do with old PCs, starting with their screens. Five years ago, companies mostly purchased 800×600 15" monitors, while the standard is now at 1024×768 17". And when you go to a higher resolution, you want a faster graphics card.
And then your employees want color printers and CD burners and other stuff that doesn’t work with their current setup, and since the central IT department says it’s not going to happen, people do what first got PCs into offices twenty years ago: they’ll buy the cool gear on departmental budgets. How did the Internet first got into most companies? Not through the LAN and firewall, think instead of good old 56K modems officiously plugged behind someone’s PC.
Take the PC out of the PC, and it’s bound to reappear elsewhere. Moreover, PCs are amortized within two or three years, then they’re out of warranty and after a while they’ll likely cost more to maintain and support than just changing them for new ones. Yes, in some cases, go with Thin Clients, but forget about keeping them "forever."
Here’s an indirectly related fact: Windows has been the fastest-growing server platform in 2001, which is even more meaningful when you take into account that it’s also the volume leader. Windows servers now include terminal services.

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