Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reinventing the Enterprise Desktop

The Windows-based desktop and notebook computers that your employees use haven’t changed much in a decade. Sure, they’re faster, have a lot more memory and have bigger hard disks. Of course, they mainly have sleek LCD panel displays instead of clunky CRTs. However, those Windows XP and Windows Vista boxes are still 32-bit machines running the same sort of applications they ran under Windows 98. Beyond Wi-Fi and faster Ethernet, their support issues are largely the same, too.

That’s going to change soon, driven by two factors: 64-bit Windows and new initiatives that will drive multithreaded software.

While Microsoft has offered 64-bit versions of Windows for several years, most consumers and enterprise users continue to run the 32-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista. The 64-bit capabilities in modern Intel and AMD processors have sat dormant.

That’s changing. According to Microsoft, consumer pre-installs of 64-bit Windows Vista are exploding. The enterprise desktop may be on a similar track.

Next stop will be new multithreaded applications, both those being built in-house and upgraded versions of commercial software. Thanks to new tools from Intel and Microsoft, as well as new generations of multicore processors, developers will find it both easier and more compelling to write multithreaded code. That will push demand for end-user machines with two- or four-core processors. While that shouldn’t affect support too much, there is bound to be some impact.

After 10 years (or more) of static 32-bit desktops and notebooks, this is a welcome change.

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