According to the latest report from the International Data Corporation, PC shipments have suffered their biggest ever quarterly decline since records began... and the blame has been laid at the feet of Microsoft's somewhat controversial operating system.
The IDC's figures [as reported by GI.biz] claim that 76.3 million PCs were shipped to retailers (not sold) in the first quarter of 2013, a 13% year-on-year decline and much higher than the projected decrease of 7.7%. "Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise," explains IDC PC research director David Daoud, "the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome."
Daoud suggests that the industry is approaching a "critical crossroads" as it faces competition from "alternative devices" (i.e. tablets and smartphones), but IDC VP of Clients and Displays Bob O'Donnell goes one step further by suggesting that Windows 8 has impacted on the PC brand, and actually makes tablets more attractive in comparison.
"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," he said.
"While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar 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."
Though we definitely enjoy the lightning-fast boot times that Windows 8 provides, the bizarre disconnect between Metro and Desktop makes it rather counter-intuitive for many experienced Windows users. With numerous high profile critics of the OS including Valve's Gabe Newell and Blizzard, it's clear that Microsoft will want to push its new range of Windows 8 devices, including the Surface, to help keep the brand relevant. Having said all that, the fact that we're currently in the middle of a recession probably doesn't help matters, and many PC owners naturally prefer to upgrade rather than buy entirely new systems. And buy a tablet.