Where are the hordes of network computers we expected to see by now? Yes I know there are machines out there, but why are they still so few and far between? I know that if I was an IT manager, I'd much prefer to maintain a relatively bulletproof fleet of NCs over PCs that could theoretically be loaded with all sorts of software (and hardware) guaranteed to: a) stop the machines from working properly; and b) ensure that we couldn't easily get them going again when they stop.
What users want
Of course if I was a typical user (who thinks he/she knows a thing or two about computers), I wouldn't want any of that inflexible NC rubbish. I'd want a powerful PC with oodles of storage, a diskette drive, a jaz drive, a CD and probably a DVD thrown in for good measure. I'd also want a tech-support team that never asked: "what did you just load? That's probably what caused your machine to stop working. Oh, and by the way, did you just e-mail a 480 meg AVI file called MIMI? 'Cause it's stuffed the Notes server!"
Again, as a user, my experiences using NCs have been less than perfect. I found the applications limited, system performance sluggish, boot-time slow and the general system feel to be alien. If you're thinking these complaints could have been fixed through more judicious choices in how the system was set up, my comeback is this: "If the system could have been set up much better than it was, why wasn't it? Especially when you're showing it to journalists who are bound to look for shortcomings."
If you have an interesting story about how NCs ARE being introduced into the Australian workplace, let me know.