The Desktop PC Refresh Cycle is Making an Exit. Enter the Era of Virtualization.

New figures from Gartner, Inc. are confirming an emerging trend that we at NComputing have been watching from the front lines: PC shipments are in decline, and so is the future of the corporate PC desktop refresh cycle as tablets enter the scene in earnest.

Gartner research shows that worldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, but the figure is a 4.9 percent decline from Q4 2011. And while this may not seem like much, as we head into 2013 there’s no doubt that the drop in PC sales will continue to accelerate. 

One reason for the decline is the advent of the tablet as a new player and endpoint alternative in the PC device landscape, said Gartner in its press release. Today’s employees are moving to low-cost tablets for consuming content and performing everyday activities like email and web browsing, while they continue to use shared PCs for creative and administrative tasks. There will be some individuals who retain both, but Gartner believes they will be exception and not the norm, as shared PCs will abound in the workplace.

The key word here is “shared.” The necessity of having one fat-client PC desktop per employee is no longer the end-all, be-all ratio for supporting optimal enterprise productivity in the digital world. The PC environment, in turn, is quickly going virtual, as enterprise IT departments turn to desktop virtualization as a means of forgoing the costly “new desktop system for everyone” refresh cycle.

Desktop virtualization is a natural, low-risk solution for BYOD and mobility as well. It allows IT departments to take full advantage of employee-owned new and in many cases mobile devices as virtual desktop endpoints for accessing the same corporate standard server-based OS and applications acting as terminal.

Declining PC sales, combined with the trends in BYOD and personal tablet adoption, should make this a very exciting year ahead for desktop virtualization.

Gartner’s figures serve to signify it’s time to start bidding adieu to The Age of the Desktop PC Refresh. Long live The Era of Virtualization. 

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