The increased use of web-based applications and virtualisation is going to drive the proliferation of 'webstations' – very low spec interoperable machines which can access required data and programs online – according to the trade body ITACS.
The organisation claims the machines – similar in concept to low-spec netbooks – will initially thrive in the corporate environment, but will soon gain a foothold with the consumer.
The technology has been around for some years, but only now, when online applications are increasingly used, and there is more reliance on remote access server stored data, are webstations able to be realised as a realistic mass market commodity.
ITACS' Anthony Knee (pictured) commented: "Where we are in the market, it simply wasn't possible before now. Companies have moved a lot of their operations online now, such as the accounts, the financial management, the reporting. Pretty much everything a company now does is online. Because of all this, the end user is now highly restricted in what they're allowed to do.
"Virtualisation has pushed the workstation off the desktop, off the portable and into the server room. Now what you need is some kind of very basic computer to access all of that, and that kind of computer would be a webstation.
"Primarily, they're going to be commercial-based machines, but I think consumers are going to move towards it as well. Most things from enterprise go that way. The entire market is just going more specialised now.
"Computers are built for games or they're built for surfing the net. People have tried to do things like this in the past, but four or five years ago it didn't really work, because five years you couldn't go on the internet and create a document. Now you can."