Intel says buy a PC to boost recovery

The Wintel axis is being resuscitated in order to sell more computers.

Intel is plugging its range of new Core blimey chips like there's no tomorrow. Maybe that's the point. Perhaps there will be no tomorrow.

In London yesterday, Intel invited hacks and interested businesses along to hear about the new chips and why you should upgrade now. The main reason we could pick out is that it will be good for the economic recovery if we all went out to buy a new computer. It might be bad for the planet, bad for your wallet and - most likely - surplus to requirements, but it's your patriotic duty as a good capitalist to keep the system ticking over.

Microsoft and Intel have long collaborated in bringing out new processor and operating system combinations in an effort to get everyone to upgrade. And there are high hopes that Windows 7 will help drum up some useful business. And it may. For, as we know, Vista was a dog.

Microsoft's Nina Sundberg claimed Windows 7 is "going phenomenally well." This after what she tried not to call "the Vista effect" had "starved the market", she confessed. She said Microsoft was being "comparatively humble" about Windows 7 after blasting Vista from the rooftops and impressing no-one.

To demonstrate how Windows 7 was spurring upgrades, Intel wheeled out a techie from BMW, Thomas Schmidt, who said the firm had 30,000 PCs around the world all running Windows XP. He said the PCs might be "refreshed very three years but it was was getting on for a decade since the firm overhauled the OS.

Just to encourage folk like Schmidt, Sundberg announced that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 "as of this summer".

Intel manfully tried to find a good reason to upgrade to the new processor lines in terms of appplications you might like to run. Trouble is there aren't any.

Facebook? Cough! Flash video. Come off it! 3D? Yawn.

About the only thing it could think of is HD enabled on the Core platform. Is anyone daft enough to think HD on a desktop computer screen is worth having, we wonder?

While Moore's "law" was bandied about, the fact that billions of transistors that are now crammed onto a slither of silicon was presented as progress.

The truth is though, the best thing about a quad-core chip on the desktop is for most of the time three cores can be switched off, saving power. There's simply more power in the chippery than most people will ever use. When Craig Barrett introduced the Pentium III in London over ten years ago, he showed real-time 3D modelling, which he said was enabled thanks to the new MMX extensions. MMX got a mention again yesterday for some reason.

Intel really hates me saying it, but how many home users a decade later are modelling in 3D? Is there anything you can do with a brand new chip that you can't with one that is three, four, five years old? Well, barely. Run a virus checker and four or five other apps at once? Hurrah!

In reality, there's no decent reason to upgrade now or in the immediate future. The future's online and in the cloud and you can get at it with a phone. Gamers might still demand the biggest and most powerful rigs, but it's more a question of bragging rights than necessity. The GPU is more important here.

Equally significant is how we think we should relate to our crumbling natural environment in the future.

Sundberg from Microsoft made a point of highlighting how green is the Vole, saying Microsoft is now locating its datacentres "near dams" in order to "be more responsible in terms of the environment". Coo!

A truly environmentally-friendly approach would be to say, Stop! Stop buying junk you don't need. Stop pretending you need a NASA-sized computer in your front room. Stop pretending it's better for the environment to dump the PC that's done you proud for the past four or five years in favour of a more efficient model. The power saving will take many, many lifetimes to offset the environmental cost of the new kit.

And the argument we should buy a new PC because economic recovery is on the way? Pull the other one.

Go plant a tree instead.