back to article Win 8 PC sales plunge as retailers, disties shave orders by HALF A MILLION in Q3

UK retailers and wholesalers were so busy waiting for Microsoft to release the Windows 8.1 upgrade that they apparently forgot to keep ordering PCs in Q3. Or is it - perhaps more likely - that these companies bought PCs more cautiously, based on inventory pile-ups that have occurred since the consumer market crashed three years …

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Windows

And all of a sudden I understand!

It was so obvious that I feel silly not to have seen this sooner.

Microsoft has said many times that PC sales would be less important and that they need to focus their full attention to mobility, in other words tablets and phones.

So what better way to help speed up this process by forcing people to use a PC operating system which no one really wants to use?

Now, of course I am joking here a little bit, sure. Still; what other alternatives (besides going Apple) do end users have who are not that familiar with alternatives such as Linux?

Oh the irony; if all of those people would end up buying Win Phones or Surfaces I could see how this might work out, but as far as I know Android and the iProducts are in much higher demand.

Is Microsoft now helping their own competitors?

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PC installed base

Yet the installed base of PCs (notebooks and desktops) continues to increase as commercial and consumer users hang onto kit for longer.

Aside from games business its hard to see much in the way of new software around to encourage replacement of even 5 year old machines, one area where Microsoft has definitely dropped the ball.

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Re: PC installed base

Yup, and as more big apps go cloud (365, Photoshop) the need to upgrade desktop kit becomes even less important as the pipe rather than the silicon speed becomes the overriding factor.

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Re: PC installed base

Cloud based Photoshop still does all the processing locally AFAIK.

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Re: PC installed base

This. PC hardware is now so powerful and (relatively) cheap that there's really no need to upgrade that frequently. I suspect more and more people are only adding odd components here and there to keep things ticking over rather than buying whole new systems, and there are probably a heck of a lot more self and custom builds happening too.

Would be interesting to see some numbers on component sales.

The growing popularity of PC gaming over the past few years would indicate that the platform is very healthy, but buying habits have changed. My last PC was built three years ago and the addition of an SSD and slightly better graphics card last year have allowed it to keep playing new releases. I cannot envision the need for a major upgrade for some time.

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Re: PC installed base

The classical model of a market is a vbleeding edge early adopter phase, followed by a rising star stage, followed by a cash cow stage - where innovation is slender, and volumes slow down, to teh final satge of maturity, followed by death as something better takes over the market space.

Desktop PCS are at the end of the cash cow phase, and are entering a mature phase, and being partially killed off by the emergence of 'mobile technology' and 'the internet of things'

To put it bluntly, the desktop PC is becoming a minority way to access computing resources and is in reality moving upmarket into the commercial and industrial arena, and away from the consumer.

Computing has forked..into professional and consumer. Microsoft is well poised to fall between the two stools.

Today no one codes a Microsoft app to run on a PC, its either an android app to run on a mobile, or a web-app to run on anything. browserish. HTML over the net is the new OS and JavaScript and Java are the new languages of this paradigm.

No one won the OS war. It simply has become irrelevant. TCP/IP and HTML won.

Today the operating system is simply a shim between the hardware and the browser.

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Anonymous Coward

In related news..

sales of Chromebooks and Android slabs are skyrocketing...

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Re: In related news..

Oh yes, Chromebook sales are skyrocketing in their niche price band which has yet to make a dent on the overall market.

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Re: In related news..

Yes, Chromebook installed base is skyrocketing. Any year now, it'll break the all-important tenth-of-one-percent barrier.

Right now, after two years on sale, ChromeOS installed base is at between 0.020% and 0.030%, depending on whose stats you believe. As Google have been uncharacteristically silent on the matter of active users, we have to go on the net usage stats.

For some perspective, Windows RT devices made up approximately 0.1% of the device population in mid-2013 by the same stats (that predates the price-cut on Surface RT that MS claimed has booted its sales). A tiny number, but if "skyrocket" can be applied to Chromebook sales, I've no idea what superlative one would have left to describe the enormous growth of Windows RT in just one year.

Here's the high-level breakdown: Windows, 90% falling very slowly, MacOS 7.8% rising very slowly, Linux 1.6% static. Remember this is desktop/laptop systems, not servers (where Linux would be far higher, and MacOS far lower). http://www.netmarketshare.com

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D'Oh

I don't know if a university science department's latest intake of postgrad students is a representative group, but we offer them a choice between Windows 7 and Windows 8 (and Linux of course ). Of those wanting Windows:

8 asked for Windows 7

0 asked for Windows 8

And I'm frequently asked to remove Windows 8 from a laptop and to install Windows 7.If MS wants to sell more PCs for Xmas, isn't the answer obvious?

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Re: D'Oh

Nigel, what were the reasons for preferring Windows 7 over Windows 8?

Did you also get reasons for preferring Linux/Windows?

Many people prefer Windows 7 just because someone told them Windows 8 is pants, and many IT declined people have a habit of trusting the IT inclined and repeating the mantra to others as well.

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Re: D'Oh

Interesting anecdote Nigel but why are you offering them an OS at all? Students and lecturers I know buy their own PC, tablets, whatever. I suspect your group of postgrad students is not at all representative of the real world.

Also curious about the reasons they give for choosing Windows 7 over 8. Apart from a few inconsequential or cosmetic UI differences, Windows 8.1 boot to desktop makes no functional difference to me apart from improved performance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Many people

prefer Windows 7 just because someone told them Windows 8 is pants

- evidence please?

Keep believing it - no way could their direct experience tell them that, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: D'Oh

I expect postgraduate science students have enough knowledge of their own requirements (especially if Linux is an option), to know that Windows 8 is unsuitable, without listening just to 'haters', in much the same way that an iPad is no practical use for what I do, regardless of whether I like / dislike the platform. Metro and 'apps' don't cut it when it comes to serious work. Windows 7 Professional or a Linux installation (preferabley Cern's Scientific Linux or CentOS) are the only two sensible options here, regardless of personal tastes.

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Happy

Re: D'Oh

Or they walked into PC World, played with a Windows 8 laptop, laughed, and walked out empty-handed.

That's what I did. :)

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Re: D'Oh

The reason is that the Windows 8 user interface is not appreciated in a positive way, and that's putting it mildly.

As for why we buy them PCs rather than inviting them to BYOD ... sometimes I wonder myself. Some of them definitely do require hardware well above the usual desktop PC for displaying folding proteins, molecular dynamics, that sort of thing. (Computing that sort of thing uses large clusters of PCs in a server room ... just displaying the results is demanding). Maybe with others the hardware is wasted.

On the support side of the desk, it is far easier and productive supporting a few known configurations than many random malware-infested ones. Windows software deployment by changing one key in the AD is far easier than having to physically present oneself at the user's personally owned PC. And a support person costs a lot more per annum than the capital cost of quite a large number of PCs. So there's a rational reason for you. I doubt it's the actual one! The world is not that sensible a place.

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Re: D'Oh

The reason for preferring Linux is usually that they need to run research codes which are written to run on Linux. That in turn is at least in part because the Linux environment is open and provides a wide range of free programming tools, whereas the Windows environment is closed and does not. Also in most cases the desktop is the front-end to the computer cluster running Linux. Using Windows as a front-end would be somewhat perverse. (I do know one person who works that way! ).

A few mostly European-mainland students do turn up knowing Linux, and Windows not at all. If your personal notebook runs Linux you are hardly likely to choose a Windows desktop!

A large number (and growinfg proportion) have Macbooks as their personal system and ask for huge iMacs, but unless they have unusually good funding the budget doesn't stretch far enough for big Apples.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: D'Oh

"Many people prefer Windows 7 just because someone told them Windows 8 is pants, and many IT declined people have a habit of trusting the IT inclined and repeating the mantra to others as well."

Or they have tried it. Whilst with a friend who is not an IT type nor a 'power user' by any means, but can work with XP to do all the stuff he needs to do, we visited a computer shop to pick up a monitor. Whilst waiting for the staff member to get the monitor out from the back, we had a play with the Windows 8 machines. I asked him to open up notepad, on a Windows 8 machine which happened to be at the desktop. After two minutes he was unable to perform this task, of course attempting to find the Start Menu, and when that failed messing around in explorer and he even resorted to looking in C:\Program Files to find the actual executable, thinking it might be in there. When I showed him the 'correct way' of hitting the Windows key to bring up the Start Screen and start typing 'notepad', he asked how having to remember 'commands' or the names of executables to do simple tasks, is more user friendly than pointing and clicking. Needless to say he doesn't want Windows 8 anywhere near his computer!

He briefly used my desktop Linux machine once (Mint Cinnamon) and was able to open up Firefox and browse without asking questions. It has really come to something when Linux is more user friendly and logical for the average person, than Windows, which has been re-designed supposedly for the purpose of being even more consumer friendly. It's a pity that Apple's desktops are out of the price range of too many people, as I have never heard anyone complain bitterly about OS X, and that any mention of desktop Linux dwells on Ubuntu, rather than the far superior Mint, both of which are far easier for point and click users to make sense of, than Windows 8.

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Re: D'Oh @Mr. Coward 16:50

I know the Metro apps are useless to many people because the selection of traditional apps is so much better.

I'm using Win8 and I'm completely disregarding the Metro UI apart from the pretty good Weather application that comes bundled with Windows. Just use the traditional applications, and Windows 8(.1) is equal to Windows 7. It just boots a bit faster and is more suitable to touch screens.

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Re: Many @Coward 16:12

My evidence is purely anecdotal. Many people have a dislike against Windows 8 without actually using it.

Many people prefer Windows over Linux even without ever using Linux. People just have beliefs.

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Re: D'Oh @Nigel 19:00

"That in turn is at least in part because the Linux environment is open and provides a wide range of free programming tools, whereas the Windows environment is closed and does not."

To quote (a many times up-voted) AC earlier in this thread:

- evidence, please, for the wide range of free programming tools under Linux vs. Windows?

Especially in academic environment Microsoft (et al?) provide free coding tools.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: D'Oh @Mr. Coward 16:50

Faster booting? Not really a major issue unless you reboot all the time for some inexplicable reason. Touch screens, don't want it on a desktop. And you yourself also admit Metro is pretty useless. Windows 7 it is then.

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Re: D'Oh @Nigel 19:00

@sandtitz 15:07 Evidence ... with the possible exception of proprietary languages where Microsoft or some other party will not permit development of a LInux compiler, can you tell me any language for which a compiler or interpreter exists on Windows but not on Linux?

A lot of scientific codes are still written in FORTRAN (which didn't stop being developed in -77 as some folks believe, and which does retain certain advantages over C/C++ whatever the C bigots say). Linux has free f95. Windows has ... well, you can persuade f95 to run in the Cygwin LInux-emulation environment. But if you're going down that route I'd recommend just running Linux proper in a free-beer VMware Player VM instead.

It's not just the languages but the libraries. If the libraries your code needs are available on Linux and not on Windows, do you really think someone whose primary motivation is science research is going to want to volunteer to port them and shake out the resulting bugs? In which case the fact that Microsoft makes its compilers free-beer (not free-open) accessible to parts of academia subject to certain restrictions, is of little relevance.

BTW we're not talking little libraries here and little programs here!

A lot of visualisation codes are written for X-windows. Yes, you can run a free X environment atop MS Windows. But it's inferior on the performance front, and these codes tend to need all the performance they can get.

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Re: D'Oh @Nigel 19:00

"can you tell me any [non-proprietary] language for which a compiler or interpreter exists on Windows but not on Linux?"

No, I can't.

But I think your statement of 'wide gamut of free software on Linux vs. the opposite on Windows' is incorrect. All those GCC compilers you are thinking of are working under Windows. Be it with help of Cygwin or MinGW, they are available and free-open, as you like to put it.

If the users are working within a Linux environment it is perfectly reasonable for them to use Linux in their computers. That I do not dispute.

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Facepalm

Stop farting around..

Windows 8 stinks.....period. People don't like it cos MS didn't ask people what they wanted, or ignored what was asked for.

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There's another possibility for the decline...

How many years have we have the benefits of virtualising the desktop rammed down our necks. Now it's been done there's no need to replace the desktop PC. Thin clients in it's many forms only needs to be replaced when it fails.

I realise that the biggest cause is 8, but how many years has el reg been pushing desktop virtualisation!!

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