Currently, the most frequently used programs on my PC are XP (but only the basic standalone functions), Word, Excel, Firefox, Thunderbird, WinAmp, a music encoding type application, a DVD viewing program and a local firewall and virus checking product.
And that is it.
Except for XP, Word and Excel, all the rest are open source. And I can easily substitute Word and Excel with OpenOffice as well as move away from XP to one of the many Linux distributions out there. Even if I choose to stay with MS Office, I cant see I would need any additional functionality from new versions. Currently, I hardly use more than 20% of the functionality anyway.
Basically except for security patches, I cant really see any reason why I need to upgrade the software I use.
I may upgrade hardware – specifically hard-drives and maybe a bit more RAM but so far, if I dont upgrade XP and Office, I wont really need a faster processor / motherboard. The performance of my 2.5 year old 1.7 GHz / 256 Mb PC is more than satisfactory.
So conceivably, unless I do something silly like start playing games or vendors find that I need some cool new functionality which requires more processing power, I think I may have reached my software/hardware stable state.
If this is true for myself, it’s probably going to be true for a substantial portion of the market as well. Which means in turn that if I was a software vendor (like Microsoft) I might start getting a little worried about how I’m going to sell more software. And the same for hardware vendors but at least, for them hardware does wear out unlike software.