Green Room

Did Windows 8 kill PC sales?

posted at 5:00 pm on April 12, 2013 by

For the first time in more than 20 years, I didn’t have any machines to update when Microsoft first released Windows 8 (although I later did play with it a bit in a virtual drive on my Macbook and Mac Mini).  My, how times have changed.  Where in the past a new Windows release would have prompted a big increase in computer sales, Windows 8 seems to have turned into sales poison.  Or is it the emergence of full-power tablets?

Has the shift from PC to tablet finally reached the point of no return? There’s been chatter about the “post-PC” era for years, particularly after the introduction of the iPad. But recent data suggest that we may finally have reached the tipping point.

Since the start of the year, the PC market has seen its steepest quarterly decline ever — 13.9 percent, according to a report from International Data Corp. That news comes on the heels of a Gartner report predicting the PC market will shrink as much as 3.5 percent over 2013 in favor of ultra-light notebooks and tablets. …

None of this is particularly surprising. But it is bad news for Microsoft, whose new Windows 8 system is being partly blamed for the market’s poor performance. When the company introduced Windows 8 in October, the operating system was supposed to help a flagging PC market gain — or at least lose less — ground against tablets, with a new touch-based interface. Instead, sales of PCs have dropped faster, and analysts are saying that sales aren’t coming back.

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” said Bob O’Donnell of IDC in a press release. “Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

Yahoo Finance is much less diplomatic about it.  The PC sales market tanked this year, and a large share of blame goes to Microsoft:

As if that news wasn’t’ troubling enough, it appears that a pivotal makeover of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system seems to have done more harm than good since the software was released last October.

“This is horrific news for PCs,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. “It’s all about mobile computing now. We have definitely reached the tipping point.” …

In an attempt to keep the PC relevant, Microsoft released a radical new version of Windows last fall. Windows 8 has a completely new look that’s similar to the design of the software running the most popular smartphones and tablet computers. The overhaul requires a relearning process, a leap that many consumers and corporate buyers aren’t ready to take.

All signs so far point to Windows 8 being a flop. …

The newest version of Windows is designed to work well with touch-sensitive screens, but the displays add to the cost of a PC. Together, the changes and higher prices “have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices,” O’Donnell said.

From the very limited experience I had with Win8, I was … not impressed.  Win7 was a much better desktop and laptop experience, far more intuitive to existing users and more stable than the last several Windows products, at least in my experience. I was a little surprised that Microsoft dumped it all for a completely fresh start. It should be noted, though, that running Win8 in a “virtual machine” caused a lot of performance issues, which I knew was the case, too.

Honestly, I think I’d still prefer a Win7 environment to the MacBook OS, as it seemed as though I had better control over performance.  But if Win8 is the only option, I think I’d prefer to stick with what I have.

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