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4/11/2013
10:42 AM
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PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed

IDC and Gartner report the ailing PC market isn't dead, but has suffered profound change. Microsoft must find the right formula for Windows 8 tablets -- perhaps a smaller model.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Is It Right For You?
Microsoft Surface Pro: Is It Right For You?
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The PC market's historic decline only accelerated during the first quarter of 2013, according to separate reports issued Wednesday by research firms Gartner and IDC. The news tightens the screws on Microsoft, which stands to see its empire threatened if it can't respond to consumers' shifting preference for tablets over PCs. The Redmond, Wash., company is reportedly looking to stem the bleeding by pushing 7-inch Windows 8 tablets. The question, as it has been since the Win8 OS stumbled out of the gate last October, is whether customers want what Microsoft is selling.

The reports don't match on all counts, but both IDC and Gartner agree that global PC shipments in Q1 fell below 80 million units. According to IDC, the performance equates to a 13.9% drop, much worse than the 7.7% decline the firm had expected, and represents the worst year-over-year quarterly decline since it began tracking the segment in 1994. Gartner said the market retreated 11.2%, an estimate that is slightly less bleak than IDC's but nonetheless alarming to those heavily invested in the PC's future. Both reports emphasized that the global market has dropped for four consecutive quarters.

Midway through 2012, analysts had still expected the slumping industry to rebound to modest growth. Attitudes changed late in the fall, however, following consumers' lackluster response to Windows 8 and a brutal holiday season in which tablet purchases far outpaced those of traditional computers. Windows 8 adoption has since stagnated, contributing to recent speculation that Microsoft's dominant position could be in jeopardy. Earlier this month, IDC said that by 2017 Android will be running on more connected devices than Windows, which will be fighting with Apple's platforms for second place. Given that Redmond is accustomed to a market in which 90% of PCs run some version of Windows, the implications of such a shake-up are profound.

[ A smaller tablet isn't the big change consumers are looking for. See Windows 8 Tablets: Why Microsoft Must Slash Prices. ]

The newest round of projections blame a variety of factors for the trouble: the high cost of Windows 8 models; the lack of touchscreen-equipped options that maximize the new OS; consumer dissatisfaction with the Windows 8 interface; and the internal struggles of major PC-makers such as HP and Dell.

"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 IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell in a statement.

That's not to say the traditional PC is dead, however. Gartner found that demand among businesses, while not robust in developed regions, actually increased. Without the support of consumers, though, Microsoft could regress into a role player that dominates certain segments, such as government IT sales, but lacks its current industry-wide clout.

In an interview, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said there is still consumer demand for PCs, noting that tablets and smartphones are not equipped for content-creation tasks and lack the large screens that users prefer for certain applications. Even so, she stated that mobile devices cover most users' common Web tasks, meaning the PC, though not obsolete, is less essential.

"If you have three PCs in your household, two of them might be replaced by tablets. Only one of them will be replaced with a new PC," she said.

Given this expectation, it makes sense that Microsoft, according to a Wednesday report in the Wall Street Journal, is readying a 7-inch Surface-branded tablet. Redmond's initial Windows 8 plans contained no mention of these smaller devices. But as products such as the iPad Mini have gained popularity, the company has evidently altered its plans; the Windows 8 certification guidelines were changed to allow lower-resolution screens, for example, and rumors of cheap 7-inch tablets have been raging for weeks, even before the most recent rumors.

IDC analyst David Daoud suggested Windows 8 could still make progress, noting in an interview that supply chain issues with touchscreen components contributed to early troubles. The OS offers little benefit, and potentially much frustration, when installed on a traditional PC, he stated, but users who've purchased touch-enabled equipment "feel the OS meets their needs."

It's a problem, he stated, that "a system designed for touch has been used on hardware not designed for touch."

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AsokAsus
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AsokAsus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2013 | 1:41:08 AM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
There's plenty of commercial PCs available with Windows 7 as the default OS; in fact, almost ALL biz class PCs come this way because the enterprise and SMB refuses to adopt Windows 8.

The Dell biz-class Latitude E5x30 and E6x30 laptops and Optiplex 7010 are excellent PCs for business or home use. They're a bit pricier than Dell's consumer-level junk, but they are better built and will last longer.
deanmike
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deanmike,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 9:01:00 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
Wrong. Windows 8 stifled the market
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
4/11/2013 | 8:36:26 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
And you don't see this as stupidly hard?

At this point, Micro$oft is not even a little interested in making users happy; if they were, 'don't call it Metro' would have been optional and the Start button would still be happily ensconced in the lower left corner if you wanted it. They want to force you to buy the new version by making sufficiently different from the previous versions that you'll give up on the old one sooner rather than later.

They know that the consumer market is a huge part of computing, and if they can't horn in on the iPhone and iPad and Android, they'll get left behind. And of course they want to get in on the app business model that Apple and Google have with their stores. They've made a decision that user dissatisfaction is worth it if they can force their way into a market they are currently failing at.

Resistance, in this case, is NOT futile. Don't submit to Win8!
proberts551
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proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
4/11/2013 | 8:36:06 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
OK, I got my first look at the Windows Tablet today, because my Supervisor just got one. My first impression was...Pretty Cool! My second impression....it needs work!

The basic utilities for setting up printers is buried undernieth about 4 levels and we did not have a clue how to get to a simple "Add a printer" There may be other ways, but we could not find them?? Shezzzzz! Come on!

The interface can be cusomized with your own ICONS as shortcuts which is nice, but that is another learning curve. For the Price, this Windows 8 Tablet should be easy to use.

Simple problem. Make the touch interface simple. The help was not helpful, or at least not what I would have expected. We eventually got to what we needed , but not with out hunting around for it. It took 10 times as long to get to the place to install TCPIP Printers than it did to set it up! Not good.

Right out of the box, this tablet should have all the basic things needed to get on your LAN, set up printers, set up email, and so on. This thing needs to be friendly, not just Cool!

The Windows Tablet has potiential, and I do like it. If I get one, I will customize the heck out of the desktop...if you can call it that, to make my life easy. The average Joe....is going to say Huh? What do I do now?
mmuldoon52501
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mmuldoon52501,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 8:26:20 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
Microsoft is trying to be too many things at once. Windows 8 is a mess on the desktop. (Yes I know you can do Classic Shell etc and that works great. But the "out of box" experience sucks.) Surface Pro is something I wouldn't mind trying out but sorry, not at THAT price!! I think Windows 8 probably would work well there. And RT is just plain crippled. So instead at least 2 MS running machines in my house have been replaced by Nexus 7 tablets for internet, social networking, indeed anything that does not require a lot of keyboard work. Also, since the "ribbon" made it impossible for me to get anything productive done in documents, I've gone to LibreOffice and am much happier.

Just keep it up Microsoft and soon I won't be using any of your products.

MS did become mature with Windows 7. But you know what follows maturity: you become senile just before Alzheimer's kicks in. Clean the dribble off your chin MS.
Majo
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Majo,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 8:25:01 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
The 'ribbon' in MS Office products is also a big mistake. With Office 2003 I want to see more of the workspace. The 'ribbon' reduces that space even more, and is not as intuitive as the 'old' menu system was. MS Access is also going to the dogs; Microsoft keeps chipping away functionality in the name of progress.
deanmike
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deanmike,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 8:18:03 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
It is not possible to get rid of Metro completely or full time. It keeps coming back, and it is annoying to keep having to beat it back down
deanmike
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deanmike,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 8:15:59 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
I looked at that Classic menu thing and I am impressed although skeptical that it will be a good long term solution. I hate pinning my hopes on a third party utility that is not guaranteed to ever cause a compatibility problem or just cease to exist.

Two things would improve the Win8 situation-

1. Leave the legacy manu as an option for people who want it instead of forcing a new UI on everyone, especially a UI which benefits from a touch screen in a world where touch screens are not quite an option yet due to cost, availability or the "leap of faith" you have to make with such an investment of new technology. A plain old touch screen will not work with Win8-you need a very expensive touch screen

2. Let us go back to command line usage. I think they are actually somewhat embracing this with Powershell.

What many businesses realize is that there is quite a learning curve for users to go "all in" with windows 8, even assuming that all of your apps will run in the new OS. However, you will need more helpdesk staff as most people today are used to the legacy XP style start menu. From what I am hearing, they are going further down the wrong road with the Windows 8 successor, too. Bad news if true.....

Maybe Start-->shutdown doesn't make sense logically but who isn't used to that today? Besides, that went away in Windows 7 (or maybe Vista) when it was replaced with an icon instead of a button with the word "start"

I never thought I would be doing it but I am typing from a mac right now. Never dreamed I would be in the OSX camp but I am. I use linux too but am still a newb there. I still need windows to manage VMWare and a few other things but OSX is much better than Win8 and it is worth the headache of a transition
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 8:11:41 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
One could consider the PC a 'sledge-hammer', one size fits all approach. (IMHO) Probably less than 20 % of PC users ever used even 80% of its resources. Maybe we only need 1 PC to 12 users in an office - the remaining using specialized tablet / BYOB devices.
Majo
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Majo,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2013 | 7:57:19 PM
re: PC Market Bleeds: Windows 8 Tablet Fix Needed
I can't justify $1,200 on Surface Pro when I can pick up a good laptop for $4-500 with a lot more memory and storage space, and more speed. Touch is not very practical on a desktop or laptop, or has minimalistic use. On the other hand, a tablet is not a good productivity tool or gaming machine - I rather use a laptop for that. My alternative - pick up a laptop and a tablet for $7-800. The RT is too expensive for a tablet, and lacks support for Microsoft applications - so it's really a useless peace of technology.
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