Computers these days are built to last. It used to be that a laptop was next to useless at about the time its battery stopped holding charge. However I’m finding that the top of the line laptops that I got a few years ago are still performing really well. Case in point, my ASUS G73. I got this one in December 2010 to take to MMS in 2011. Also took it to MMS in 2012 and it’s still going strong now that MMS 2013 has come and gone. It doesn’t hurt that I got 16 GB of RAM put into it when I got it (back then the G73 was one of the few models that took this amount of RAM). I just swapped out the hard disks that came with it for SSDs. This laptop now pulls a 7 on the Windows Experience Index score.
Sure there are laptops out there that are faster (The updated version of this laptop pulls a 7.7 or so.) – but the point I’m trying to make here is that this machine which I’ve had 2.5 years doesn’t feel as though has even reached middle age. My first laptop, a Pentium powered Compaq that ran Windows 98 didn’t last anywhere near that long before it started feeling like a dinosaur.
I’ve got a 4 year old Thinkpad that has a new battery and replacement SSD while I suspect will keep going for a few more years. The same with a HP Envy 15 and a Toshiba Qosmio. Replace the battery and the hard disk and these computers aren’t all that different performance wise to what I’d get if I purchased it brand new.
When we look at the changes in the PC market, we’ve gone from a scenario where people replaced their laptops every couple of years with a new model to a scenario where it makes sense to hold onto your laptop a lot longer. If you buy a quality laptop today and assume that you’ll replace the hard disk and the battery sometime in 2017, it isn’t unreasonable to suspect that you might be using the same computer in 2020.
In the half decade or so, computers have gone from something we have to upgrade frequently to something that may last as long as a TV set. The slowdown in the PC market reflects this and it also explains the possible shift by Microsoft to a new ongoing incremental release strategy from the older “something big every few years” approach that we are more familiar with.