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From Intel to Dell to HP to Tech Data, a growing number of technology vendors and distributors are predicting a coming PC refresh cycle that is set to hit sometime in 2010 as the existing fleet of PCs in commercial enterprises remains deployed well past its lifespan of two years with some even four or even five years old.

The PC refresh is almost looked on as the long-awaited salvation of the technology industry – a boost that didn’t come when Microsoft launched its Windows Vista operating system and as a way out of this recession that has pushed sales down by double-digits at many technology companies.

But what if the refresh that we are hoping for doesn’t come? What if IT organizations change the way they operate so they don’t have to buy new PCs? That was the topic of a recent blog post by technology analyst Rob Enderle who thinks that in the future employees may use their own personal PCs rather than corporate PCs.

He notes that many applications have moved back to a hosted model, and the only real apps that remain on the client are Microsoft Office applications. Furthermore, he says that companies could potentially create a virtualized workspace that could be deployed on employee’s personal computers.

Why does he think that? Well, so far he says for the most part he hasn’t seen budget allocated for PC refreshes in 2010. IT departments that have been operating on bare-bones budgets for the last year have other priorities that are likely to come first.

And while Tech Data is one of the technology companies whose executives believe such a PC refresh cycle is on the way, its senior vice president for U.S. marketing acknowledges that corporate customers keep looking at other platforms.

For example, he says that personally he uses his smartphone more and more for his personal computing needs. Plus, as a platform, Apple’s Macs are growing faster than any other PC brand.

Other potential PC replacements could come in the form Enderle suggests, such as virtual desktops.

Or else perhaps slimmed down clients such as netbooks or net top computers, with Intel’s energy-efficient and inexpensive Atom processor could take up the slack in the enterprise after taking the consumer market by storm. Vendors say that future models of these devices will be sturdier and are likely to include more bells and whistles such as video cards.

And thin clients are potentially another option. Don’t forget that as PC makers have seen their sales fall, companies such as Wyse have seen big growth, and IGEL has sold its thin client PC converter cards into companies such as Daimler AG.

So what are you seeing? Are your customers preparing budgets that include funds for new PCs? Or do you expect them to be talking to you about PC alternatives in six months?