Desktop PC design appears to be on its way toward some major changes, with size and colour being critical in determining the success of the design, according to a study by research company IDC.

The IDC report, entitled "The evolution of desktop PC form factors," analyses how desktop design will change over the next five years, how preferences in the consumer and commercial markets differ, the role of a PC's colour, texture, and shape in a user's buying decision, and things that can speed up or inhibit the penetration of various form factors in to the commercial and consumer segments.

The success of Apple's iMac shows that users seem receptive to new desktop PC designs, according to Roger Kay, IDC manager of desktop PC research.

However, there are questions about how users will accept all the new shapes, sizes, and colours, according to IDC, whose study provides consumer and business user reaction to a range of new desktop designs.

IDC believes small PCs that can be moved out of the way will have broad appeal, as will flat-panel displays.

The IDC study also finds that designs that appeal to consumers may not appeal to business buyers.

Desktop PCs designed for the consumer market will need to pack a punch, while those for the corporate world will need to be understated and elegant, according to Kay.