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Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
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robharrydean
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robharrydean,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/13/2013 | 3:51:12 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Many factors have combined to squeeze Microsoft. Many of those factors were beyond any likelihood of mitigation by Windows 8. However Windows 8 has still in my opinion doubly failed: it has weakened Microsoft's appeal to its core constituency and legacy users, whilst simultaneously failing to make an effective pitch to the 'new form factors' tablet/mobile ecosystem.

I suggest that Microsoft's two greatest mistakes are these:
1. They branded RT & Phone as 'Windows', confusing the brand identity. They should have branded them 'Microsoft' with sub-brands (Surface, xPhone, whatever): brand identities have huge momentum and trying to steer them too abruptly tends to simply turn the vehicle over.
2. They gave away their huge advantage in user-inertia. Lots of regular users and businesses stick with long-lineage systems not because the alternatives are unappealing but out of reluctance to face a disruptive transition. Metro/ No Start Menu makes the prospect of Windows 8 feel potentially disruptive, which gratuitously squanders that huge inertial advantage: this not only an issue for the OS but for many consumers will simply be a disincentive to refreshing the hardware, in so far as Windows 8 will tend to be pre-installed.

In this context, Windows 8 could be considered to have likely made a substantial negative contribution to the appeal of PCs, and to have turned an opportunity to ameliorate the deteriorating sales situation into something of a nosedive.
Mike_Acker
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Mike_Acker,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2013 | 11:40:03 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
good write up

desktop PCs are a particular class of tool and I don't see the need for them going away . but with industry still struggling to get rid of XP it's easy to see that win8 is a huge obstacle to progress in this change over

digging deeper though we have to discuss other points. one of which is Windows is not a secure system and is unsuitable for commercial use. another is windows is just an obnoxious mess. my daughter is enrolled in an onlune-U and windows office 2010 is required. she struggles with the software a lot and wishes she had bought a Mac.

a lot of people prefer Macs. I don't know about that so much; I'm a Linux user. I switched about 6 months ago and I really feel sorry for folks still struggling with the WinMess

msft will sink in the winmess and join EastMan Kodak et.al. -- in the dust bin.
AcrossMountains
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AcrossMountains,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/13/2013 | 8:04:43 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I agree with what you and what robharrydean posted, particularly the second bullet. When I bought a new desktop a year ago, I decided to do so when Windows 7 was still available. I was using Windows XP and after 8 1/2 years, it was time to look for a new one. I looked at what I was reading about Windows 8 and decided it was more of a learning curve for me than I cared for. If I felt that way, imagine how business must feel about the time that it would take for their employees to learn and decrease productivity. It's not at all uncommon to me to go to a place that is still using XP. I've seen a lot more with XP, than with 7, none with 8.

Now would be a good time for Apple to have Microsoft for lunch, if only Apple's mindset about how it conducts business would permit it.
wzachmann023
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wzachmann023,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/14/2013 | 3:17:21 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I've been following all this with considerable interest. I think there's a decent chance that Windows 8 will prove to be much more successful than the current industry consensus projects for it. It certainly is a somewhat jarring transition for users and takes some getting used to, but it is also a very nicely designed interface that is quite innovative and provides a very different UI that works very well for tablets, phones and such (and is very usable on a more traditional desktop system once one gets used to it). I think that Windows 8 (and successors) may eventually do much better than most folks currently expect it to.
CopyingAppleIsDangerous
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CopyingAppleIsDangerous,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/14/2013 | 8:59:59 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I read this article very carefully. Twice. I think it is wrong. The author uses the same argument (apology) that is currently being used by several authors around the Internet: Blame the tablets. The problem is that, if you look at the reduction in PC sales, there is no complementary increase in tablet sales.Furthermore, if you look at Windows 8 tablet sales, they are horrible.

So all of these consumers did not buy a PC because they were going to buy tablets instead, but did not buy the tablets? That doesn't make sense.

Furthermore, it *is* true that PC's have superfluous computing power these days. But that was true before Windows 7, which sold fine.

And lets not forget that, for whatever it is worth, iPads are selling just fine.

What happened with PC's is that (1) Microsoft owns most of the OS market (2) People hate Windows 8.

So, I think it would be more correct to say something like this: PC users currently have more or less powerful older computers. Upgrading is a luxury, not a necessity, and such users do upgrade occasionally. [I bought two extra Windows 7 laptops that I still don't use, for example]. If such users were on the fence about whether to buy a new PC, the detestable nature of Windows 8 convinced them to keep what they had.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
4/15/2013 | 6:49:52 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Okay, I agree with Michael and I also agree with you; at least at first. You said that not only are PC sales down but tablets as well which makes sense considering the economic doldrums we are in. Then you go on to say that Win8 is a huge mistake and costing PC sales. On that I don't agree.
Consumers don't have the scratch to buy new computers when they are more concerned keeping up with the mortgage, food, gas in their cars, etc. Shiny new toys are on the bottom of the list which is why I agree that since PC's AND tablets are n9ot setting sales fires it must be something else.
I think with a Win 8 "mini" tablet at a good price point it would blow Android and IOS machines out of the water. I'm a PC guy (network admin) and a tablet can't do most of the work I need to get done. Win 8 Pro however opens many doors. I would much rather run around with a 7" full blown PC in my hand than a laptop, ultrabook, etc.
mmuldoon52501
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mmuldoon52501,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2013 | 9:34:44 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Of course you are implying that the Windows 8 "mini" would a) be priced reasonably enough to be on par with the best of the other minis, i.e. around $200, and b) run actual Windows 8, not the abomination called RT.
Gareth Davies
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Gareth Davies,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2013 | 2:32:27 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I am running Windows 8 on a 13 inch Samsung touchscreen ultrabook (laptop). It feels like a tablet that can do all the word processing/file management of windows, with a built in keyboard and stand.

I tried a dockable tablet but found the screen was top-heavy and awkward when docked. Plus you get less hardware bang for your buck with tablets (vs laptops) and they tend to be all about graphics.

Note I use my Windows 8 laptop in conjunction with a Samsung GS3 phone running Android. Lots of great apps sync between Android and Windows 8 (like Chrome, Dropbox, Evernote, 8 Tracks, and Hootsuite).

Unless you have a touchscreen I can see Windows 8 being a major frustration with a mouse (though I have heard users say otherwise). But with a touchscreen, 'Metro' is a surprisingly snappy, bug free, beautiful and liberating experience, worth the minimal (and fun) effort to relearn Windows with a touchscreen.

Live tiles have huge potential for utility/productivity, and I hope developers are catching on slowly with Windows 8 (not sure how accessible the platform is to developers). I don't miss any apps from the Apple Store or Android Market, but I also don't play a ton of games on my computer.

I would guess Microsoft holds the keys to the much heralded Enterprise market until someone challenges the MS Office suite. Windows 8 integrates much better with Office than Android or iPad, and Microsoft is definitely catching up in terms of 'fun'.

Tablets haven't caught up yet in word processing because of the touchscreen's lack of type-ability. I personally think touchscreen laptops (no bigger than 13 inch or the screen is too far away) are a great solution!

Makes you wonder why Apple's Macbook has never come in a touchscreen version? The answer is sadly: Apple wants you to buy two products.

-Gareth
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2013 | 9:43:20 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Good luck with selling apps to 3% of market share that uses 8 with the Store while your competitors overcome you selling competing applications targeting the 100% of Windows user share including the 3% of Windows 8.
If Ballmer did not see it coming, it should not be CEO even of an hot dog kiosk.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2013 | 3:45:15 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I'm also surprised we haven't seen more touchscreen laptops, Gareth. How many times have you seen someone tap a screen? Even with one, though, I would want to keep my tablet. Still a different use case for me.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2013 | 4:06:59 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Too expensive! That's been stated many times. With Ultrabooks failing to sell in nearly the numbers predicted when they were first arriving, because of the cost, adding what is being said as the cost for a touchscreen ($150), brings that cost up well beyond what most individuals, and businesses are willing to pay.

This is also why the Surface Pro will fail to get much traction. At a price of $1100 for the meager amount of 64GB of flash, which leaves too little available to the user, and $1200 for the 128GB version, these are also priced way too high for much market penetration.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2013 | 7:41:14 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
It will be funny to read this article again shortly after MS collapsed and went out of business because of Windows 8 disaster.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2013 | 4:58:22 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
I think it'll take more than Windows 8 to send Microsoft out of business. Office revenue would have to fall off a cliff before the conversation can turn that grim, and even then, Microsoft would have to make other mistakes along the way. I've written on several occasions now that Microsoft is poised to lose its influence-- but "out of business" is a leap I don't yet see. Even so, as you point out, this article will still be online if Redmond's day of reckoning ever arrives-- so everyone will be free to come back and laugh at how much I under-estimated Microsoft's impending downfall. :)
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2013 | 7:18:40 AM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Indeed, funny is not an appropriate term. I would ask to Dell layoffs a better term. And to the much more that will come due MS errors killing an entire industry.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2013 | 4:01:51 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
The only one I know stating that Win 8 is the sole cause for the big Windows PC slump, is Michael Endler stating that others are saying that.

No one is saying that! What is being said, as he says in the actual article, is that it's contributing to the slump.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2013 | 4:53:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Thanks for reading, melgross. It's certainly bothers me when I see other journalists conjure up fake enemies as an excuse to write a column-- so I see where you're coming from. But I don't think that's what this column does. It certainly wasn't what we intended with the column.

If you type "Windows 8" and "blame" into Google, you'll see a whole lot of recent headlines that aggressively link Windows 8 to the PC's decline. Here's a quick, non-exhaustive sample:

"Windows 8 blamed as PC sales slide" - Washington Post
"PC sales plunge, Microsoft and Windows 8 blamed" - Seattle Times
"Windows 8 takes blame for 'brutal' PC sales slide" - Computerworld
"WIndows 8 has put the world's PC market to sleep" - The Register
"IDC Reports 'Worst Ever' Q1 PC Sales, Points to Windows 8" - eWeek

Some of the articles contain a bit more context or a bit of additional nuance but some don't. Either way, there's no shortage of people trying to pin the PC woes on Windows 8.

Also, I didn't write that anyone is saying Windows 8 is the "sole" cause (although a few headlines do call it the "main" cause); my point, rather, is that Windows 8 is getting more blame than it's actually due. That's not to defend Windows 8 but rather to redirect the conversation to include other factors. Yes, IDC said that Windows 8 has actually exacerbated the decline (a point made in this column), but the analysts were also pretty insistent that Win8 was but one of many factors, and that even if Windows 8 had been better, we'd still be talking about declines. That's not the implication being trumpeted in a lot of headlines, and this column was simply intended as a response to the hyperbole I'd seen elsewhere.

Indeed, this column isn't even the only "Windows 8 is getting too much blame" story that ran this weekend in tech news circles. I'm sorry to hear that you thought this article seemed like a response to phantom claims, but I assure you, the claims are out there.
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2013 | 6:32:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
PC Sales Slump? No, we're just experiencing the normal evolution of man and industry. PCs are finding their place in the pasture along with horses and asses. The question here is, are you going to dwell on the past or move forward into the future?
bkohlhepp287
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bkohlhepp287,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 6:27:11 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
How do Mac sales compare to Windows PC sales? If they show the same decline, then it's a universal rebuff to the traditional format, not a reflection on Windows 8. If the curves are significantly different, then Windows 8 is a key factor.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/19/2013 | 9:34:40 PM
re: Windows 8 Did Not Cause PC Sales Slump
Mac sales have also taken a hit, adding - like Intel's rough earnings - to the overall argument that PCs as a whole are losing steam. Windows 8 has poured gasoline on the fire-- but the fire was already burning.

That said, Apple has fared better than most other PC-makers (though it's not clear how much better, as Gartner and IDC seem to frequently disagree about Apple). One factor could be this: Apple brought features to market this year that are obviously useful-- like the Retina displays, or the iMac's Fusion Drive. Those aren't mass market appeals, but for some of Apple's core users, they're pretty compelling. Microsoft seemed to assume that a dual-personality OS would be a bigger attraction, and consumers have so far suggested they'll need more from Windows before opening their checkbooks. So I think there's some merit to the idea that Apple and Microsoft used different tactics to drive PC sales, and that these strategies imparted impacts that should be separated from the larger "decline of PC" narrative.

But the two companies still constitute an imperfect comparison. Microsoft has a much bigger and much more diverse install base that includes both enthusiastic fans and those who've settled with Windows because it's what their workplaces have always pushed. OS X, in contrast, has a smaller but more rabid fan base. It is still selling computers primarily to developed markets, and even there, OS X is a niche player compared to Windows. So we can't expect the signs of the PC's decline to manifest similarly in each company.

Apple also targets a much more confined market than Windows. Even if you're on a budget, you can find some cheap Windows 7 laptops. Cheap Windows 8 Ultrabooks might soon enter the budget market too. Apple relies on tablets in this space. Even the Mac Mini and MacBook Air - its two cheapest computers - aren't exactly budget friendly. The iMacs, MacBook Pros and long-neglected Mac Pros, meanwhile, are exclusively aimed at the high-end user. Sales in this segment might not be indicative of overall PC sales, limiting the extent to which we can point to Apple successes as a surefire sign that Windows 8 - and not PCs in general - are the problem.

So, yes, I think Windows 8 has contributed to Windows PCs performing worse, in percentage terms, than new Macs. But we can draw only so many inferences, given that Macs target more specialized users and are less crucial to Apple's overall revenues than PCs have been to Microsoft's. And even the inferences that more concrete suggest that Macs aren't immune to the tablet rise/ PC decline. So though Windows 8 hasn't helped, I still think the shift toward tablets is the biggest driver of the "PC downfall" trends. Apple demonstrates that Windows 8 isn't helping, but it doesn't change the fact that PCs aren't the only device competing for consumer dollars.

- Michael Endler, IW Associate Editor


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