The announcement of the Google Chromebook marks the end of the typical desktop refresh that most organisations face every three or four years. Several industry trends such as cloud computing, the need for mobility and the consumerisation of IT have led to the need for a new OS such as Chrome.
I believe that Chrome OS and the new products that will use this OS will change desktop estates forever.
Microsoft OS upgrades have typically driven the desktop refresh cycle and Microsoft's star here will now begin to wane.
The average cost of ownership of a desktop computer system over three years is around £1,500, I believe.
An organisation with 100 employees could spend £150,000 or more over three years, purchasing and maintaining its desktop PCs. Google's announcement of the Chromebook at a cost of $28 per user per month for a device requiring no capital expenditure, no additional OS licensing costs, no patching and without an expensive three-year refresh and OS upgrade including hardware replacements and other updates, suggests a halving of the cost.
For users, having an instantly on device will eliminate the frustration associated with long boot times. Start-up in less than 10 seconds will be transformational.
The announcement of partnerships with Citrix and VMWare also addressed the last real concern of the enterprise – how to access legacy applications.
With the inclusion of Citrix Receiver (which Citrix recently announced for the iPad), business users can be freed from the constraints of a Windows PC and access their non-web applications on a web-only device.
I expect true cloud-based desktops to become the norm within the next three years. Medium-size businesses, which use a limited number of applications on a daily basis, are likely to be the first to take advantage of a web-only environment.
No longer will businesses have to worry about technical issues such as software upgrades, updates or patching. Hardware issues and upfront capital costs will be a thing of the past due to mobile phone-like contracts, which include maintenance and hardware upgrades.
The launch of the Chromebook can only accelerate the adoption of web-based applications such as Google Apps for Business as a replacement for business applications such as Microsoft Office, Exchange and Sharepoint.
David McLeman is managing director at Ancoris
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