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Windows 8 blamed for biggest PC shipment plunge ever

Microsoft Windows 8 startscreen.jpg

The new Windows 8 Start screen.Microsoft Corp.

Global PC shipments fell by 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and according to analyst firm IDC , Windows 8 could very well be the reason. 

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that 76.3 million PC units shipped during the most recent financial period, marking the biggest decline since the IDC began publishing quarterly numbers 19 years ago.

PC shipments plummet

Here are the leading manufacturers of personal computers worldwide in first quarter of 2013:

  -- Hewlett-Packard Co., 12.0 million shipped worldwide, 15.7 percent share, down 23.7 percent from a year earlier
  -- Lenovo Group Ltd., 11.7 million, 15.3 percent share, unchanged
  -- Dell Inc., 9.0 million, 11.8 percent share, down 10.9 percent
  -- Acer Group, 6.2 million, 8.1 percent share, down 31.3 percent
  -- AsusTek Computer Inc., 4.4 million, 5.7 percent share, down 19.2 percent
  -- Others, 33.1 million, 43.4 percent share, down 10.0 percent
  -- Total, 76.3 million, down 13.9 percent.

Source: Associated Press

“The reaction to Windows 8 is real,” Jay Chou, an IDC analyst, said to The Wall Street Journal.

Increased demand for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have also played a role in this decline, but Windows 8 hasn’t helped. IDC continued to say that the OS actually contributed to the slump, saying that Windows 8 devices come with “features that don’t excel in a tablet mode” and take away from traditional PC usage.

MORE: 5 Windows 8 Apps to Bring Back the Start Menu

PC demand for business users has declined as well. According to Chou, companies now buy computers every four or five years as opposed to every three years. Estimates for global PC shipments may fall even lower than the already-grim 1.3 percent contraction for 2013, IDC told WSJ.

“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, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. “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.”

The pressure is on Microsoft to make Windows 8 more compelling to consumers, whether it be through lower prices or big changes to the operating system. The Windows Blue update expected this summer promises several enhancements, including the ability to view more apps on the screen at once and easier access to settings, but it may not be enough.