Desktops anyone?

It's been three years since the Year 2000 problem and the PC replacement cycle it inspired. So are broad-based procurement vehicles such as Electronic Commodity Store III in for an imminent round of PC buying?

Maybe not, some industry executives contend.

Mike Bruemmer, director of sales for the civilian government at Dell Computer Corp., said Year 2000 concerns helped justify a three-year replenishment cycle among some customers. But he thinks that was an anomaly. Given the spending constraints in state, local and federal (nondefense) government agencies, he thinks a four- to five-year desktop replacement cycle is now more likely. The cycle for notebooks may be two-and-a-half to three years, he added.

Moreover, Bruemmer believes government agencies are more interested in establishing common architectures than scooping up PCs. Intergovernmental communication is the key. Voice over IP is "the leading technology they are talking about," he said.

Jeff Moore, director of business development at Sterling Computers Inc., also thinks network upgrades may get the spending nod over PCs. "There will be some [PC upgrades], but it's a trade-off," he said. "Do you upgrade your network or do you refresh 1,000 PCs?"

To the extent that PC replacements occur, they may not be desktop-for-desktop exchanges. Jack Littley, senior vice president of program and information services at GTSI Corp., said laptop users may switch to tablet PCs, while desktop users may opt for laptops. "People won't be tethered to desks quite as much anymore."

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