A whole lot of corporate PCs are getting dangerously old, according to John Thompson, a vice president and general manager in Hewlett-Packards Personal Systems Group. Speaking to the press at a San Francisco event on Wednesday, Thompson said that many companies "are putting themselves at risk by running older, less secure PCs in their IT environments." To combat the problem, the company introduced a number of new services and some new hardware platforms been designed to appeal to IT managers.
IT managers have been notoriously stingy with money during the economic downturn and—despite major PC vendors hopes for faster replacement cycles—theres no clear sign that circumstances will change immediately. Market researchers at Gartner are supporting HPs position, though. "An institution can stretch the replacement cycle only so far before it starts to cost itself money, both in terms of hard dollars and opportunity costs," says a report from Gartner.
Thompson said that everything from security risks and rising support costs for older PCs to hidden productivity costs and poor returns on IT investments are cropping up because of aging corporate PCs. He also said that many older PCs are loaded with operating systems, such as Windows 95 and Windows 98, that are facing support termination from Microsoft. And, he asserts that preparation for the over-hyped Y2K bug—which many predicted would wreak havoc on systems—caused many companies to install brand new hardware around the turn of the millennium. "We estimate that there are 164 million PCs that are at least three years old worldwide and about 30 million in the United States," Thompson said.
HP plans to encourage IT managers to move to a new line of desktop PCs it is introducing called HP Compaq Business Desktop PCs. One example, the HP Compaq d530, comes in three designs—a small form factor, convertible minitower or ultra-slim desktop. Estimated street prices begin at $730. Customers can pick systems with Pentium 4 processors of up to 3 GHz, the Intel 865G chip set, up to a 160GB hard drive, and either a DVD- or CD-ROM drive. The lower-end d330 model, which comes in a micro-tower or slim tower design, starts at an estimated street price of $500. The d330 comes with a 2.66-GHz Pentium 4 processor, 40GB hard drive, and 48X CD-ROM drive. Finally, HP introduced a thin-client PC called the t5700, which starts at $600, and comes loaded with a 1-GHz Transmeta TM5800 processor.
HP also introduced a new PC Migration Bundle, which it will pitch—along with third-party partners—to IT managers. With the migration bundle, the company will install new systems, provide system trade-ins, and dispose of existing equipment. In the case of a trade-in, for example, an IT department can replace an older PC with one of HPs new desktop models for $389 and up. HP will also offer Systems Security Healthcheck services for IT managers. For a fee, HP personnel will evaluate holes and problems in your corporate network.
Finally, Thompson elaborated on HPs earnings, which were reported as being on the upside on Tuesday, surprising analysts. He said that the companys printer/imaging and notebook PC businesses were strong contributors to the earnings surprise.