back to article Desktop refresh cycles: How long is yours?

Depending on the organisation you work in, the notion of ‘desktop refresh’ will have taken one of several forms. At one end of the spectrum, major ‘one-off’ upgrades can be the norm. The other end may involve nothing formal in the way of a modernisation program, relying more on individual employees making the case for a new …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Our refresh programme....


    replace when ******* up beyond repair.

    That simple.

  2. matt 115

    3 years

    Just had my dual core P4 3.2Ghz replaced with an 3.0Ghz E8400 hehe

  3. James 51

    There is no replacement cycle

    In my work there is no replacement cycle. The desktop I am using the same desktop for five years and it wasn't new when I got it. There are a few new desktops that are replacing those machines that are failing but as we're running the same buggy programmes all the new machines do is crash faster.

  4. ajsmith


    We used to refresh about a 3rd of our desktops on an annual basis, but the introduction of thin client computing has extended the desktop life, we now only replace broken PC's. Laptops are still replaced every 3 years due to wear and tear. We still rely on desktops rather than thin client devices to support dual screen functionality and the odd app that doesn't get on too well with Citrix. In my experience, if you buy decent kit in the first place, you can expect many years of reliable service, we have PC's 6 years old that are more than adequate for our environment and since we are mostly only managing the O/S with AV and the odd app, there is very little management overhead.

  5. Paul Hates Handles

    When it breaks

    I still have my 3.2GHz P4 system as a backup, and my 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo system is starting to show age... but it'll still do me for another two years yet I reckon.

  6. z0mb13e

    ad-hoc replacement

    Same... replace when needed - that is to say, replace when a machine dies.

    I keep hearing about desktop virtualization as being the next big thing but all the desktop virtualization products I have seen involve a tiny box that does the KVM over IP type magic which cost more than the average business desktop with an OEM licence. Given that I keep a spare machine ready to roll and can swap out desktops and users can carry on working with little more than a pause to download their profile, plus a reimage takes a couple of hours. Trying to justify the expense of a decent server(s) to support desktop replacements that cost more than desktops, not to mention the cost of the OS licences just isn't going to wash.

    I have one Win7 machine to test all our weird and wonderful apps work ok - they don't, nor do the HP all-in-one laser printers that we bought less than 3 years ago. I don't think the users could cope with a) a change in the desktop & b) the concept of running XP on top of Win7 just so they can run a few of the apps that ran perfectly on their old system or to scan a document...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this could be considered a title.

    I am rocking an old skool P4 with a 10GB HDD ( 2.5GB ram bizarely) and 3 monitors. A strange beast as it is up to date in some respects, and severly lacking in others. Ah well, it will be like this for the forseable future.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Refresh? Whats that then?

    I have just been given a "new" machine: it is just over 7 years old (but a great improvement on what I had before).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 Years Normally

    But with the downturn we decided to on a beyond repair basis. Due to this, almost all of our equiptment is over 3 years so we are now about to upgrade everyone and go into a fresh 3 cycle which will include the majority of staff and then have major upgrades of all staff every 3 years.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Uk_Gadget

    These still happening....

    .... We are involved with many large plc's, government departments, educatrion, finance etc and we are very busy doing refresh programs. Desktops, notebooks, terminals..... they are storming in. Strange thing is though, only one company went with Vista....

    Touch wood, no downturn noticed here...

    Our own refresh program is break it and replace it. So many legacy programs that cannot be run on Windows 7.

  12. Fennie

    Time isn't the issue

    The issue is much more the mush thats loaded into the "standard image" in order to comply with security, standardisation etc etc. Normally matched with a woefully inadequate level of network storage....

  13. duckluckr

    being cheap

    ancient server is upgraded and said ancient server given to people whose desktop is gone. working desktops have memory bumped to 3 GB. machines working for 6 years! in short delay buying. plenty of spares after decommissioning which are not surplussed.

  14. OzBob

    Horses for Courses,,

    I'm a propellor-head sysadmin, so only need telnet, FTP, Firefox, Office and vendor-supplied management tools, most of the horsepower I use is on the "Big-Iron" in the Data Centre. Same Desktop Server for 5 years now, same laptop for 3 years (enforced upgrade, the old one worked fine).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upgraded to Windows 7 here

    We skipped Vista but have upgraded to Windows 7 as soon as it came out. Everything is working perfectly here.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'How long is yours?'

    Well i don't like to brag...........

  17. The Original Steve

    4 -5 years

    As title. We shell out to extend the warranty on the desktops/laptops though so we're covered throughout.

    Nearly every app we use is reasonably lightweight (Office, Web apps, or lightweight niche apps) so it's more to do with reliability than power/performance.

    We do mix things up a little with a thin clients connected to our Citrix farm for production, and we also use Citrix to deploy some apps like our ERP for occasional users. That means we then roll out the first batch of new PC's to the heavy ERP users.

    Just brought 50 new Wyse terminals though as I'm looking at rolling out thin clients to the very lightweight office users. Mid - heavy users will stick with a PC though.

    Win7 and Vista through and through.

  18. John Ridley 1

    6 years and counting

    They gave me a new machine a couple of months ago, but it had Office 2007 on it, I tried for a couple of months but couldn't stand it. I put the old Jan 2004 machine back on my desk.

    Our refresh period is generally 3 years but I'd already turned down two upgrades, since I didn't really need them. I only took the most recent one because they said they couldn't get parts (mainboard) for the old one anymore, and it had notoriously bad capacitors. Now I'm just taking my chances to avoid Office 2007 (specifially Outlook - I just run OpenOffice for everything else)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Desktop refresh?

    Our desktop refresh is almost finished here - 18 months ago someone in the upper echelons decided it would be good and modern to have everyone in our department on Vista, with as many new computers as they could afford. Obviously, this someone had no idea about the impending release of Windows 7, but it had been mandated from on high and we actually started putting computers on desks within a month of 7's general release.

    Other departments are now happily rolling out 7 to all their computers and will probably looking at 8 while we're languishing in the corner struggling with Vista issues (and there are plenty!) and "testing" 7 for the next 12 months.

    So, a severe lack of foresight and a "just do what I said!" attitude means we're now stuck with an awful OS for the next 3 years (at least) and will be the laughing stock of the rest of the organisation.

    And the users? Well, If I had a pound for every user that asked "So when are we going to get Windows 7?" I'd be able to retire!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cycle, what cycle?

    replacement is as and when. There are a few unwritten rules though.

    New person joining company - new computer

    Cyberphobe whinging about computer speed - new computer to close down avenues of complaint

    Director wants new computer - director gets new computer (but we all now that one)

    Meanwhile I soldier on with a hand me down that was in the building before I joined about 10 years ago. And I'm the only user left with a CRT display.

    (joking?) aside, a computer used for Office XP/ 2003 suite activities is as good for the job as it was when purchased so no need to replace yet. There are a few machines that run as well now as in 1999 - but they have specialist roles so its only when the hardware finally dies I need to worry about replacements.

    1. Mark Aggleton


      The majority of our remote sites (and that's around 2500 PCs) have 15" CRTs.

  21. armyknife

    Better a meritocracy than titles

    I replace my bicycles more often than the computer, is that what you were asking ?

  22. The Mighty Book Man

    If it ain't broke...

    I've had the same PC since I started here four years ago. It's fine. why would I want it replaced? I insist on my team doing regular backups so any catastrophic machine failures don't result in lost data.

    But I am getting a new bike soon.

  23. Fractured Cell

    4 years? HAH!

    My school still have machines back from the heydays of Win98, and they still make us use them. Only now are they starting to replace them with dual core machines, which are a breath of fresh air compared to the old ones. Around 1/2 the machines in the 900 machine strong network are the oldies that run:

    Single processor @ 600Mhz

    256Mb RAM

    16Gb HDD

    Server Built WinXP

    USB 1.1

    And it takes around 17 minutes to desktop from cold.

    (I shall have to start introducing superglue to the ports & cooling system...)

  24. Jamchal

    Thin clients here

    I work in customer service part time (study computer networking elsewhere) our uni uses core 2 duo machines which are pretty rapid, they are going to win7 from xp in the summer, which is great.

    Workplace we have around 3000 others doing our job too, were given thin clients and 17" tft displays. I use about 10 web apps on IE6! it sucks. The rest of my applications are all citrix delivered and i log onto a citrix presentation server, so whats the problem? 10mbit ethernet means i xan PHYSICALLY see the screen refreshing as it downloads my desktop, it also means 1024x768 max res on our 1280x1024 displays, it also means flash enabled sites crash our browser. This was put in 3 years ago.

    Prior we had NT4 machines 600mhz 256mb memory. Yes, they felt faster. Rant over

  25. Eion MacDonald

    Shifting to Linux, continue with old machines

    1. Computers all PCs circa 1999. Ran Win98 then XP, Decision to run Linux with Firefox, Thunderbird and Open office when recession hit. Works well. Some specialised printers essential to an old application, so cannot shift (code to old too large and no one to rewrite) so buy spare old printer and stockpile as emergency .

    2. For 90% users OpenOffice FF and TB sufficient.

    3. New folk get second hand equipment from 'leavers' due redundancies in recession.

    4. IT budget, simple , if broken beyond any hope of repair then buy new, cheapest oem and convert.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refresh cycle?

    If we're out of old machines then new starters get a new laptop (cheapest we can find).

    Boss seems to eat laptops and batteries though...

  27. AndyJ

    Get up to dual core

    We've replaced nearly all our single core and HT CPUs over 2 years to keep boot time and responsivness at reasonable level once XP is SP3'd and apps like Office 2007 & eTrust AV are running. Nothing lower than a dual core (AMD or Intel) with 2GB goes into the business now. Generally it's a HP 3010/3015 downgraded to XP but we have a couple of workstations for developers.

    We'll run Windows 7 once SP1 has settled in, though we've got 3 IT folk testing/playing (1 being me). We have 2 Vista installs (also in IT) and they are running fine, contrary to what people might think. No more CRTs left most are17" LCD with a couple of older 15" models.

    Laptops are a pain. Currently favouring Toshibas (<£400 nett) but they are most Definitely not shiny, so user's think we're being tight...I suppose we are! but at least they are reliable unlike a bad crop of £600 HP units we got.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Just started latest cycle

    Four years for us (Education), mainly due to management outsourcing the repairs these days. The warranty lasts four years, then we either replace them or they won't get fixed. We have 6 rooms of 25 PC's and we used to update one or two rooms each year depending on the available budget.

    This summer they say we're also virtualizing our servers (so they can stop buying new ones). Probably a good idea given the hammering they've taken over the last four years and so far we haven't had a disk failure on site (and they wouldn't spend £150 on some drive caddies to re-use some of the old drives for my backup plan so the day will come).

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