Windows 8 Blamed For PC Sales Slump

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a new report, the number of PCs sold around the world dropped by almost 14 per cent last year. Even the gloomiest forecasts failed to predict such a slump that many experts are blaming on Windows 8.

The figures come from analyst firm IDC and combine reports from the major PC manufacturers. These reports cover the first three months of 2013 and compare them to the same period last year.

The numbers actually refer to how many PCs the firms have sent to stores rather than how many have been bought by consumers and businesses. That can make it difficult to compare one quarter to the previous quarter.

For year-on-year comparisons the figures are more reliable.

Under normal circumstances you would expect at least a small rise in PC sales every year. Why? Because PCs are becoming increasingly more affordable and every day there are more people in the world. Overall, it's very rare to see a decline in the total number of PCs sold.

PC Shipment Decline 'Brutal'

However, total worldwide shipments during the previous quarter were 76.3 million, down 13.9 per cent compared with last year. That is by far the biggest drop in the 20 years IDC has been compiling relevant figures. The company says it had only expected an eight per cent decline.

In considering the figures, an IDC spokesman described the situation as "brutal." (Source:

Aside from Lenovo, which held steady, every PC manufacturer saw a significant decline in total PC sales. Hewlett-Packard (HP), the biggest PC maker, shipped 23.7 per cent fewer PCs last quarter.

Acer suffered a 31.3 percent decline.

It's important to note that the figures only cover desktop and laptop PCs and not tablet devices. This lends weight to the theory that many people are now switching from notebooks and desktop PCs to tablets. (Source:

Users See No Need For Upgrades

Several other factors appear to have combined in an unfortunate way to make the PC sales decline so steep. For example, some of the major PC makers have been going through restructuring processes that have led them to place less emphasis on developing new models.

Most of all, however, it appears consumers and businesses see little reason to replace the PCs they already own. Those computers purchased even five years ago are still working well for most consumers.

But many experts also point to Windows 8 as a reason for the PC sales slump. It also seems that not only have a high proportion of Windows users decided they don't need to get Windows 8 just yet, but those who are upgrading have found there is no need to get a new computer as part of the process.

This is partly the result of a Microsoft strategy that aims avoid increasing the minimum specifications needed to run both Windows 7 and Windows 8 -- a strategy that helps software sales but harms hardware sales.

IDC even suggested Windows 8 may have hindered rather than helped new PC sales. One theory is that many would-be buyers have been confused by reports about the operating system's new interface and want to wait to see if it will catch on before purchasing a Windows 8 PC.

Microsoft will be hoping this is initial skepticism that will soon pass, rather than the more long-term hostility to Vista that left many users holding on to XP for as long as possible.

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