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Windows 8 and Future of Personal Computer

 NotebookIf you are a Windows user, you will agree Windows XP and Windows 7 have given you the most convenient and user-friendly experience. Windows Vista was a complete failure as per my view (I’m sure most of you will agree on this as well). What about the new member of ‘Windows family’ – Windows 8? My experience is a mix bag. I’m using it on my laptop and it has not impressed me a lot. But anyway, since it is the latest thing available, I’m using it.

With all the joy and sorrow I had with Windows 8, I wanted to know what world thinks about windows 8. I came across a very interesting fact, which I thought would be great to share as a blog post. This is about the world Personal Computer sales after the release of Windows 8 in late 2012, to be exact on 1st of August 2012.

Is windows 8 an operating system designed for personal computers? Interesting question, isn’t it? Trends over last 1 year on world personal computers show that Windows 8 is not a blessing for world PC industry. Most reviews on W8 have stated that it is an OS more suitable for touch devices. As per my view this is a fare enough statement. I say so because, Windows have put up a guide for users on how to ‘Touch: swipe, tap and beyond’ (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/touch-swipe-tap-beyond), which they did not do for their previous versions of ‘Windows’.

International Data Corporation (IDC) on their press release on 10th of April 2013, have stated that worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), down -13.9% compared to the same quarter in 2012 and worse than the forecast decline of -7.7%. The extent of the year-on-year contraction has marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994. The results also marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines. Now the question is, ‘What is the correlation between PC shipment decline and W8?’

With the introduction of iPhone and Android, people around the world got used to small screen devices and teblets. The latest device which have revolutionized the mobile device industry is ‘phablet’ (Eg : Samsung Galaxy Note). The features of W8 have encourages to use touch devices instead of using personal computers which don’t have touch screens.

Acer-delays-Windows-RT-tablet-launch1

Tablet with Windows RT

Let’s say personal computer manufacturers decide to introduce touch screens. Then the issue will be solved and PC users will also be happy, isn’t it? Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. PC industry efforts to offer touch capabilities and ultra slim systems have been hampered by traditional barriers of price and component supply. I don’t think most consumers in Sri Lanka would spend more than Rs. 100000 for a PC. Instead they would be more than happy to buy a PC which does not have a touch screen with Windows 7 in it. Or even there are some users who would consider buying a tablet or a high end phone (Eg : Samsung Galaxy S series, Samsung Galaxy Note series, Sony Xperia series, LG Optimus series, etc)

IDC’s Program Vice President, Clients and Displays, Mr. Bob O’Donnellhad made a very serious comment which I think have summarized the whole situation, which world PC sales have faced. I consider this comment as serious, because he speaks by looking at actual stats, not according to the ‘gut’ feeling.

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. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the imagesCAQ5Q4P8familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.

The table I extracted from IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker clearly shows how PC industry has been affected quite badly over past one year.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, First Quarter 2013 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in thousands)

Vendor

1Q13 Shipments

1Q12 Shipments

1Q13/1Q12 Growth

HP

11,997

15,726

-23.70%

Lenovo

11,700

11,705

0.00%

Dell

9,010

10,110

-10.90%

Acer Group

6,150

8,952

-31.30%

ASUS

4,363

5,401

-19.20%

Others

33,075

36,739

-10.00%

Total

76,294

88,635

-13.90%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, April 10, 2013

‘Creative destruction’ is an inevitable in present world set-up. But small screen devices, tablets and phablets has not been the major market for Microsoft Windows over past few decades and I don’t think Microsoft had ever thought that Windows 8 launch would contribute seriously to the decline in world PC sales. I say so, because still PCs are their ‘Bread and Butter’.

ios5-vs-android

Will ‘Microsoft’ be successful in coming in to the scene and challenge iOS and Android?

If they seriously want to enter the small screen, tablet and phablet market they have to seriously consider about the competition they have to face with open source mobile OSs like Android and Firefox OS. Also they have to consider about iOS as well. As a user who ‘used, using, loved and loving’ windows, I believe Microsoft should consider entering small screen, tablet and phablet market as a long term strategy. The speed which they tried to do the revolution is a bit too. This might lead to a situation which would remind us the idiom ‘Gigging Their Own Grave’ while digging other’s graves.