IDC Survey Illuminates Desktop Computer Usage Trends

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., June 22, 1998 — Are corporations really interested in low-cost PCs? Is network computing putting pressure on traditional technologies? Are Windows NT adoption rates for real or just marketing rhetoric? What applications are expected to dominate the desktop? Can DVD, and its higher capacity, carve itself a place on the desktop or will CD technology hold steady? A new study from International Data Corporation (IDC) helps bring into focus an array of questions relating to the commercial desktop market. Customer Directions and Buying Behavior: The 1998 Commercial Desktop Survey (IDC # B15866) is a survey of 300 IS purchasing executives at mid-size (100-499 employees) and large (500+ employees) corporate sites, and highlights the important trends in the acquisition and use of commercial desktop computers at U.S.-based nonresidential sites in 1997 and 1998.

IDC's survey results show purchasers are more interested in "value" than price or performance. "Corporate users want reasonably — but not excessively — powerful processors, a pretty heavy memory load, and a fair amount of disk space," said Roger Kay, senior analyst, Personal Systems. "They're willing to pay for this functionality, but beyond these 'necessities' users lose interest fast." Options such as video capture/playback and videoconferencing are far less of a priority among purchasers. Only 10 percent of respondents expect to purchase desktops with videoconferencing capabilities over the next 12 months. This number is up only slightly from seven percent in 1997.

The hype about network computing taking over the desktop and sending traditional PCs to an early retirement is more than a little premature. IDC found the incidence of network computers (NCs), whether installed, ordered, or under evaluation was quite low among respondents, with 14 percent installed and 10 percent under evaluation. NetPCs were even less impressive among the sample sites, with only seven percent having ordered NetPCs and nine percent evaluating. In the area of operating systems, it is no surprise that Windows 3.x has virtually disappeared, while Windows 95 enjoys continued momentum. The most dramatic change, however, was the rise of NT. Thirty-two percent of respondents claimed desktops purchased over the next 12 months would have Windows NT installed.

Key Findings

Eighty-eight percent of respondents expect to buy disk drives of 2GB or higher

DVD adoption rates show minimal growth due to software limitations

Half of all respondents said desktops under $1,000 were very or somewhat appealing

The top three applications respondents expect to run on desktops purchased over the next 12 months are office suites, browsers, and presentation software

Respondents expecting fully implemented client management will rise from four percent in 1997 to 13 percent in 1998

Multiuser NT Server is more appealing to buyers than NCs or NetPCs

IDC's Personal Systems user surveys lay the foundation for the company's demand-side research on desktop and portable products, contributing to identification and measurement of demand for emerging technologies,

applications, and standards.

To order a copy of Customer Directions And Buying Behavior: The 1998 Commercial Desktop Survey, please contact Cheryl Toffel at 800 343-4952 x.4389 or

About IDC

Headquartered in Framingham, Mass., International Data Corporation provides IT market research and consulting to more than 3,900 high-technology customers around the world. With a global network of 375 analysts in more than 40 countries, IDC is the industry's most comprehensive resource on worldwide IT markets, products, vendors, and geographies.

IDC/LINK, an IDC subsidiary, researches and analyzes the home computing market, leading-edge technologies in telecommunications and new media, and the convergence of computing and consumer electronics.

IDC's World Wide Web site ( contains additional company information and recent news releases, and offers full-text searching of recent research.

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company.

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