The days of the 486 as a grunt office machine are long over, according to a survey by market analyst IDC.
While in 1996 a typical PC configuration consisted of a 486 processor with 12MB RAM and a 600MB hard drive, the average business machine in 2000 uses a Pentium 133MHz chip with at least 64MB RAM and anywhere between 2 and 12GB of space on the disk.
Most office machines now include a CD-ROM - 60 per cent compared to just 13 per cent four years ago.
The figures seem to fly in the face of the thin client revolution touted by many in the IT industry.
"While many CIOs may lament the support challenges of increasingly complex desktop systems, the evidence is also that they are not averse to embracing extra functionality within these systems," said IDC's program manager, Peter Hind.
The study, Forecasts for Management, also asked company information officers how often they upgrade PCs to a new desktop standard. The response varied greatly depending on the size of the organisation. More than 30 per cent of managers in companies of 50 employees or less said they upgraded every two years while large companies of more than 1000 upgraded as quickly.
IDC's advice to resellers is to consider the importance of the small business marketplace in light of these figures.
"Resellers in particular would be wise not to disparage the technology investment decisions of SOHO and SME organisations," Hind said. "While the order values may be smaller, the evidence is that these markets invest in IT more frequently and more rapidly."
Most larger organisations replace their systems at around the three-year mark - nearly 64 per cent of businesses with between 250 and 1000 employees and 72.5 per cent of organisations with more than 1000 staff.