The PC has been at the heart of business for 30 years. In this time, it has replaced centralised computing, become a window onto the web, and a tool for collaboration.
But with the boom in home computing and smartphone sales, people want more from their desktop PC than a business workhorse. Thanks to technologies like virtual desktop infrastructure, users can now access their corporate desktop from almost anywhere they have a broadband connection.
We look back at the top 10 PC and desktop computing stories of 2010.
The Openoffice suite includes Writer, the word processor; Calc, the Excel-style spreadsheet; Impress, the slide deck application in the same vein as Powerpoint or Apple Keynote and the logically named Base database tool. Adrian Bridgewater assesses how the new version compares with Microsoft's flagship Office Suite.
The desktop PC has had a prominent position in organisations for more than 20 years, firmly establishing it as a de facto device choice for most users. But over the past five years, some key trends associated with the desktop device - and its use within organisations - have begun to reshape the landscape. Gartner research vice-presidents Mark Margevicius and Stephen Kleynhans examine the future of client computing.
Mobile devices have become a standard part of today's multinational organisations - most companies would struggle to operate without them. According to researcher IDC, 35% of the workforce will be mobile by 2013. But many IT leaders are realising they can no longer enforce corporate standards for mobile devices and networks and must embrace the popularity of consumer-driven handsets. Gartner research suggests that as many as 25% of employees will soon be using their personal mobile for work activities. But how do you maintain security, minimise costs, and integrate.
Solid state disc drives (SSDs) can potentially give legacy desktop PCs a new lease of life and are set to become the preferred way to achieve high performance and high availability storage in the datacentre and, increasingly, on the desktop. Kingston Technology, a company which made a name for itself selling memory upgrades for PCs is fast becoming a storage company, now that SSD is gaining in popularity.
The past decade began with the steady adoption for IP telephony and voice and data convergence. Unified communications appeared a few years later and delivered a framework that supports integrated communications and collaboration applications. This included applications for multimodal customer support, SIP-based applications, integrated conferencing, and unified messaging.
As the lines between network equipment, communication applications, and collaboration diminish, advanced collaboration tools such as shared workspace, calendar co-ordination, and rich presence will support many business processes.
There is plenty of guidance available, from legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Equality Duty, specific recommendations in the form of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and even an enforcing body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. But the majority of websites are still not accessible to those dependent on using keystrokes instead of a mouse, nor those using screen-reading technology or voice recognition software.
Suppliers are touting virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as the next wave of IT innovation, but CIOs should tread cautiously for now, say analysts. Many businesses are seeing the benefits of server virtualisation, which include simpler management, lower power and cooling costs and more efficient use of servers. VDI puts users' desktops in the datacentre, making it easier for IT departments to manage applications and roll out software and operating systems. The technology promises more effective security since no data is stored on PC desktops.
In spite of industry noise concerning the merits of deploying virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs), businesses appear to be in the midst of a PC revamp. Worldwide PC shipments reached 82.9 million units in the second quarter of 2010, a 20.7% increase from the second quarter of 2009, according to preliminary results by Gartner.
"Businesses did not upgrade PCs in 2009, but we are now seeing a PC replacement cycle," said Ranjit Atwal, principal research analyst at Gartner. The main driver for the upgrade is moving off unsupported Windows XP SP2 onto Windows 7. Although XP will be supported until 2014, Atwal said companies replacing PCs now will most likely be installing them with Windows 7.
The arrival of next generation broadband will lead to a rapid growth in mobile devices - adding to the difficulty of hardware support for IT departments. High-speed mobile broadband, or LTE is likely to arrive in the UK sometime after 2012, opening up new applications for mobile video and online services.
In a video interview with Computer Weekly, Howard Wilcox , senior analyst, at Juniper Research, said that all UK mobile phone operators were committed to rolling out the technology.
With the excitement and promise of desktop virtualisation, many organisations are trying to quickly implement a VDI-type solution to realise the expected benefits. Unfortunately, this exuberance has resulted in some implementation issues due to improper planning and design.