Nearly 100 million PCs will be replaced this year, according to forecasts by Gartner.
Replacement purchases will increase worldwide PC shipments to 186.4 million units in 2004, a 13.6 per cent increase from 2003, said the analyst firm.
Gartner analysts expect the figure for replacement PCs to rise to 120 million in 2005, overtaking the number of systems replaced in 1998 and 1999 when companies provisioned for the millennium bug.
"Our first quarter results suggest that the Y2K replacement cycle that vendors have been anticipating for more than a year is under way," said George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's client platforms research.
"More than 30 per cent of installed PCs are now at least three years old. Many, if not most, of these PCs are using older Windows operating systems that are no longer supported or are about to lose full technical support.
"Expiring operating system support will play a significant role in driving PC replacements going forward."
Gartner also attributed the higher PC sales to strong global economic growth. "Stronger economic growth will almost certainly influence PC sales for the rest of 2004," said Kiyomi Yamada, industry analyst for Gartner's client platforms research, in a statement.
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