What is the useful life of your machine?

I tossed a laptop on the trash today.  It was old, and the motherboard was toast.  I stripped what I wanted and chunked it into the trash bin.  This particular laptop is about five years old.  I have another one that is still in working order that is about seven years old.

How long do your machines last you?  Do you keep them forever or sell them on eBay?

I'm asking because I know the hardware offerings coming in the next few months are going to be really really fast and capable.  That presents a paradox for home and business users.  Do you keep what you have and continue to run the operating systems designed for it's era, or do invest in the future.

One of the interesting aspects of where we are at from a technology perspective is that many of the machines we have are more than capable Windows XP machines.  In fact, Windows XP is really enjoying it's golden years right now.  This is of course good and bad.

As you know, I work on the TechNet team for Microsoft.  My peers have the job of attempting to stay ahead of the rest of the world in many ways.  We talk to literally thousands of people every week, and learn a lot about your joy and pain.  Most of the folks on my team have been in the business 10, 15 or 20 years.  That's like a combined set of 175 years of experience.  Now granted, that's a stretch, but you get the idea.  Like many high tech teams, we aren't always in the reality of your world.  Hence my hardware question...

If you read my blog occasionally, you know I did a reality check over the Christmas holiday.  I installed Windows Vista Ultimate on a Compaq EVO n620c.  That machine is no where near state of the art.  I wanted to see why I continue to see complaints about the resource requirements for Windows Vista.  I also figured if I had a bad time with it, I'd have some fresh evidence for the Windows Vista team.  As you can see in the blog post, quite the opposite happened.

So what are you using today?  How long to do plan to use it?

One of the reasons I ask is because the hardware world as you know it is getting ready to change pretty radically.  In May, the PC makers will start shipping Intel "Santa Rosa" based laptops.  Those laptops will be capable of running x64 versions of Windows Vista and Windows "Longhorn" Server.  In my case, I'm interested because I'll be able to address 8GB of memory, in a laptop.  In addition to the ability to address more RAM, the laptops will start shipping with DirectX 10 capable video chipsets.

Why am I bringing any of this up?

When we shipped Windows XP in 2001, what was the hardware platform like?  Back then the hot laptop chip was a Pentium III and most of them were below 1.0 GHz.  Anyone remember how Windows XP ran on one of those in December of 2001?  I think this is an interesting comparison because I see a lot of nay sayers complain about how resource hungry Windows Vista is.  That's because Windows Vista is built for now and the future.  Fast forward three years...  what do you think it will be like then? 

Fun my friend, very fun.

Comments (8)

  1. Bob Muir says:

    Good question Keith.  Personally, I’m using a Dell Inspiron 8200 lappy that will be 4 years old in March.  I paid something like $3k for it new and a year or so ago I paid another $1k to boost the processor speed up to 2.4ghz and the memory up to 2GB.

    I think it’s more because of the memory size, but Vista runs just great on it.  I’m using it as my remote workstation, running VMware and supporting my end users/clients remotely with RDP, PPTP/VNC, and Bombar.  

    Like you, I’m holding out for the next-gen laptops before I upgrade.  Again, I’ll probably spend around $3k and hopefully it will last another 3 or 4 years.  So these things are averaging me $1,000/year.

  2. Linda Moore says:

    I am currently using a Dell Latitude laptop right now that is a little over 4 years old. When I bought this computer, I got maxed out the RAM at 1 GB. I believe that you get more for your money and extend the computer’s life by buying top-of-the-line computers.

    Like you I also want to be able to run x64 applications.

    I will probably purchase a new top of the line "Santa Rosa" laptop during the 4th quarter of 2007.

    Currently, if you have a laptop with 4 GB, only 3 GB is addressable because 1 GB is reserved for the OS.

    Pertaining to the Intel Santa Rosa technology, how much of the 8 GB RAM will be addressable by applications?

  3. Keith Combs says:

    The PCIe bus will take approximately 500meg of memory.  The system will also allocate memory for video, even on discrete based systems.  Most people are seeing 3.25 free on a x64 4GB RAM machine today.  I would imagine the allocations will be similar on a 8GB x64 machine.

  4. Keith Pawson says:

    "I tossed a laptop on the trash today"

    Keith, I’m not a pro green person, however, I hope next time you send it to a green recycle place or whatever you have over there in the US.


  5. Keith Combs says:

    Actually it was a figure of speech.  I have a car load of books I’m taking to the library.  I am also taking three laptops, two monitors, batteries, and other assorted stuff to the office for pc recycle.

    I’m not a total loon.  đź™‚

  6. Jack Barry says:

    Attended your presentation, excellent!

    You mentioned there were three downloads we needed to get.  What were they?



  7. Vic Hsu says:

    My main machine at home for email, web surfing, image manipulation, and web development turned six years old this month. It’s a Dell Dimension 8100 that shipped with Windows ME. The upgrade to XP was not pain free, but it wasn’t a nightmare either. It’s serves it’s purpose well. I will probably replace it with a new box with Vista preinstalled in about three years as you recommend.

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