As long as anybody can remember, there was always a compromise that needed to be made between business and consumer-class PCs. The corporate PC was usually stripped of everything but the bare essentials, while consumer PCs sported the latest in graphics capabilities and performance.
The justification for these distinctions was that corporate PCs were tightly controlled by the IT department, which frowns on anything that isn't specifically required to support corporate applications. But in reality, all this has ever done is create dissension between end users and the IT department. The simple fact of the matter is that end users use their corporate PCs to access business applications alongside any number of personal applications running locally or on the Web. On top of that, many of the applications that were previously viewed as being strictly consumer are now becoming integral to the way people work as Web 2.0 applications work their way through the enterprise.
That's why a new line of Envy notebooks from Hewlett-Packard is going to make a lot of people sit back and think about what they need from a PC. This new stylish Envy line of PCs, which come fully loaded and trace their lineage back to HP's Voodoo line of gaming systems, will satisfy the application needs of any type of end user. Here's a quick look:
Naturally, these systems are more expensive than the typical workhorse notebook generally favored by IT departments. But at prices ranging from $1,500 to $2,000, depending on how they are configured, the pressure on IT departments to give people systems that they want to keep on is only going to rise.
Of course, this whole PC divide issue is a non-starter in small businesses. A small business will simply write the price of the more expensive machine off in the name of blending work and play. And if truth were really told, more than a few IT departments create two classes of citizens when it comes to notebooks. They give the senior executives higher end systems such as the HP Envy line, while the rank and file receive low-cost boat anchors.
There's no doubt it costs more to outfit workers with higher end systems. But if you have not already noticed, a large percentage of the best and brightest workers are shying away from big companies. And one of the reasons, beyond all the bureaucratic nonsense that goes with working for a big company, is the simple fact that work environment, systems included, is usually a lot better at the smaller company.
It's doubtful that large companies are going to suddenly realize the intangible benefits of higher end systems. But when it comes to justifying upgrades to Windows 7, corporations should not overlook these intangible issues at a time when the real cost of PC computing using Windows 7 continues to fall sharply.