back to article Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share

Market monitor IDC's latest word on monitors goes some way to explaining limp enthusiasm for Windows 8: people just aren't buying touch-screen monitors. Windows 8's user interface was designed to work on mouse-driven and poke-enabled devices. It's racked up plenty of sales, but not much love. The analyst outfit's latest …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprising

    Who'd want a computer screen that is designed to be touched?

    It's been hard enough to train everyone not to touch the goddamn screen, and now they'd want us to throw away decades of frustrating work and, worse, happily smear it ourselves?


    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising

      Last year one of the big gadget shops around here had a touch-screen monitor on display, it was somewhere around 24" - 28" size. The only people who seemed entertained by it were my teenage nephews, when they discovered that the system it was attached to had Angry Birds installed. In the last store refresh it vanished again.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising

      "Who'd want a computer screen that is designed to be touched?"

      Me - they work great with Windows 8. I have several touchscreen laptops / tablets - and a 23" touchscreen monitor on my main PC.

      Not to mention Faux News:

    3. Wade Burchette

      Re: Not surprising

      Hold you hand up to your monitor. Tell me how quickly your arm gets tired. Touch screen only works well when we can reach down or when you arm does not need to be extended. Touch screen works well in point-of-sale machines because the user stands close to the machine, their arm is not extended. But with a desktop or laptop, a physical keyboard extend the distance to the monitor. A little bit of common sense would have told Microsoft that "touch-first" approach to a UI would not work.

      1. Nuke

        @Wade Burchette - Re: Not surprising

        Wrote :- "Touch screen works well in point-of-sale machines because the user stands close to the machine, their arm is not extended.

        Touch screens are also a good choice for public terminals such as in information kiosks, because there is as little as possible to vandalise or throw ice cream over; coupled with blocky interface apps that do not challenge even the lowest 0.1 percentile visually impaired or ham-fisted. Why anyone would have thought such an arrangement a good idea for home and office PCs I cannot begin to imagine.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Time for a new paradigm...

      Two screens.

      The Look Screen™, with the content (displayed free of smudges), is placed where it normally goes, in front of your face.

      The Touch Screen, with all the controls and buttons, goes flat on the desk. Placed conveniently at the end of your arms in their natural gravitationally-bound position on the furniture. There'd need to also be a keyboard that could flip out somehow or other... mumble mumble not sure of the details...

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Time for a new paradigm...

        "There'd need to also be a keyboard that could flip out somehow or other... mumble mumble not sure of the details..."

        I think this is what you're looking for:

        The screen actually grows keys when you need them.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        You will pry my IBM Model M from my cold, dead hands.

        You want to replace a truly tactile keyboard that, when I am really getting my writing on, sounds like a world war one battlefield with some touchscreen monstrosity? Heathen! The chiclet keyboards on notebooks are bad enough; I need to feel where the keys are, damn it!

        Touchscreen input is for people who don't have any real work to do.

      3. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Time for a new paradigm...

        Or in your lap. Monster 30" Vixeus and a $190, 20" Acer touch on a 5m extension cord/bundle. I've looked at cutting the cord but it doesn't bother me at all now and that's the only complaint at the moment. I'm losing control of my body here so voice and big honking touchscreen keyboards really work for me. (And I thought I'd be reconciled to that!)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You have to wonder how Microsoft's corporate thought processes operate.

    There two damned good reasons why people don't want touchscreens. Even MS have noticed the trend to larger screens on all device classes, and this leads into the first problemette that the viewing distance on anything above a 15 inch screen is not comfortable touch reach, and the second is that more than a few of us have greasy paws that instantly make a screen messy. This even happens on a smartphone with a top notch oleophobic coating, but at least in that instance the device is put in my pocket where the lining wipes the smears off.

    There's even a third problem that for input and sophisticated control, rubbing a fat digit that covers many hundreds of pixels is a bit crappy, and you're still tied to a keyboard for primary input.

    So, all in all, a big fat grease-smeared fail for W8, with three key questions:

    What's plan B, Microsoft?

    How will you avoid repeating your mistakes given that you don't f***ing listen?

    And how will you avoid p***ing off the millions of people who have had W8 foisted on them?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      The 'thought' process is easy to understand

      Microsoft's market is the desktop (with a few servers and one token super computer). The desktop market is dwindling in favour of phones and a few tablets. Phones and tablets are Linux and iOS, so if Microsoft do nothing they will become a small niche with prices shooting up as costs get divided by an ever decreasing number of users.

      To avoid that, Microsoft must enter the phone/tablet market at any cost - no matter how many desktop users they drive to distraction. If they fail, people will use Libreoffice on their phones and desktop users will have to install it too because Microsoft need to maintain incompatibility. The plan was to require third party developers to convert their software to a touch interface so the same software would work well on a tablet and a desktop. The plan is obviously catastrophic, but Microsoft were that desperate. Now the costs are clear Microsoft will back off until the next big disaster.

      When people start plugging their phones into a keyboard and monitor to write documents instead of buying a desktop, you will see TIFKAM wheeled back out with the same results as before.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

        But even Microsoft don't use touch screens with Windows 8.1 or so I heard from an acquaintance who was visiting them

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

          "But even Microsoft don't use touch screens with Windows 8.1 or so I heard from an acquaintance who was visiting them"

          Actually, having a touchscreen in Microsoft is apparently seen as a status symbol:

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

            These are very different kind of devices useful for special tasks, or maybe in some high-end meeting rooms, in some contexts where presentations are far more than simply switching to another slide they are vey good to use, less fiddling with a PC.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

              "The plan was to require third party developers to convert their software to a touch interface so the same software would work well on a tablet and a desktop."

              While I happen to agree, the problem is proving it. This is clear abuse. It is a blatant attempt to utilize a monopoly in one area to create a monopoly in another. I didn't work, but that doesn't make it any less illegal.

              If it could be proven...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

          The internal laptop catalogue for MS employees has the Surface, various HP, Acer and Lenovo touch models - yes they dont have desktop monitors with touch but it is quite obvious that is not the intended use of a desktop monitor.

          I suggest your acquaintance may be operating off hearsay to believe that "Microsoft don't use touch screens"

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

            "yes they dont have desktop monitors with touch but it is quite obvious that is not the intended use of a desktop monitor."

            Then why the fuck did they try to force a touch OS onto the world's desktop users? Please provide me your officially sanctioned Microsoft PR answer for that.

      2. John 156

        Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

        In other words, M$ did not ancipate a flood of users wanting to get their greasy mits on full size monitors at all; they simply wanted to force app developers to provide touchscreen functionality so that johnny-come-lately could offer a credible product in the tablet market. It was always the apps that kept people loyal to M$ not their ghastly, 16-bit OSs which they were still foisting on users of 386+ tech many years after it came to market, otherwise the story of M$ would have ended long ago.

        it is typical that M$ did not think then to enable users of PCs and laptops the ability to revert to a normal DE without tiles etc.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: The 'thought' process is easy to understand

        If you believe MS doesn't sell server OS (and server applicatrions) just say you've missed the last twenty years, Rip Van Winkle - or maybe you are making confusion with Apple...

        Sure, MS wants a share of the phone/tablet market as well because there are a lot of money there - and did it in the worst way -l, but I'd suggest you to give a look to MS financial data and see where a lot of revenues come from...

        And I guess no iOS will ever run LibreOffice natively....

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Replacement cycle....

    And what's the typical lifespan of a monitor?

    I haven't bought a monitor in (/me thinks) crikey, nearly a decade - and it might get replaced over the next few years, but it might not... It's served the full life of two three computers so far...

    I remember the office I was in when I received them, and I have had three jobs since then, so it's somewhere between 8 and 11 years ago (probably 9).

    Let's assume a 10 year life...

    So if you're selling 0.4% touch enabled monitors this year that's an installed share of 4% of a single percentage point (from this year's sales), and probably a little less than that again from last year.

    In the laptop market it's going to become impossible to buy a laptop without a touch screen soon (assuming you still want a laptop rather than a tablet)

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Replacement cycle....

      @John Robson: "And what's the typical lifespan of a monitor?"

      Maybe averaging 5-6 years (if you include power supplies, longer if not) at my place of employment, where we operate quite a lot of monitors (touch and non-touch) in a museum setting. Usual failures are power supplies (often replaceable as many of our monitors use external supplies) or backlights (less easy to fix) and occasionally the things "just die". From memory we've only had perhaps two or three where the monitor was ok but the touchscreen part stopped working. They are mostly powered up for around 8 hours a day, so that's quite a lot of hours in total.

      As the museum was opened nine years ago, we have already had to replace a fair percentage.

      Less obviously, as the museum was opened nine years ago, it's getting more and more difficult to find replacement monitors that fit the setwork - 17" 4:3 1280x1024 monitors with DVI and hard glass are particularly difficult (anyone know a supplier?).

      I wonder how much of the 0.4% is sales to places like us, replacing existing units or installing new units in a "kiosk" type setting, rather than sales to individuals who will use them for "work"?


      1. localzuk

        Re: Replacement cycle....

        5-6 years seems very low! The monitors attached to my work machine are now, 11 years old and still going strong. The ones in one of our ICT suites are 8 years old, and that model has not had a single failure amongst the 50+ we had of them.

        17" hard glass with DVI? That's a tough find, I have to say. You might have some luck speaking to a refurb seller like ICT-Direct. They might find some somewhere!

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Replacement cycle....

          "5-6 years seems very low!"

          Remember that these units are on some 8 hours a day. Many are hard-powered down (switched mains circuits) at the end of the day, which some power supplies don't like, others are left powered-up so go into standby when the signal disappears. As I said, most of the failures are power supplies and fortunately for us, most of the power supplies are external 12V bricks so replacement is very easy. The actual display part of the monitor maybe lasts a bit longer but our 17" Neovos (not touchscreen, but must have S-video inputs) do seem to suffer from backlight loss and screen fade quite a lot. Neovo is not a cheap brand.

          You think that's bad, just consider the fact that all bar five of the originally-installed 30-ish projectors here were LCD models. It seems that many people aren't aware that LCD panels and their associated dichroic colour filters have expected lifespans in the 4,000 - 8,000 hour range. In fact the original projectors here had a manufacturer listed lifespan of 4,500 hours. In our terms that's not even two years before they need replacing!

          Turns out that the cost of replacing the "optical block" in these original projectors was significantly higher even if DIY'd than the cost of buying a nice new Panasonic DLP with higher brightness, higher availability (two lamps), twice or three times the lamp life (so lower running costs) and a rated lifespan of around 20,000 hours.

          Sorry, rather far OT there ;-)

          As for using reconditioned monitors, it's a possibility for the 17" units (fortunately we can still - just - get 19" units to the same spec) but it's not a long-term solution. Long term solutions involve ripping the display out and starting again (new setwork, new content, new software) which isn't going to happen in the current "financial climate".


        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Re: Replacement cycle....

          I agree 5-6 years is low. A Dell 22" died on me after 7 years and that seemed way too damn early. Very sad, it was so nice up to then. Took it apart three times trying to fix it, but it was the panel itself. Sniff...

          The good news is that 27-inch 1080-high monitors are constantly on sale for Cdn$200 or less.

          Touch screen? No thanks.

      2. The First Dave

        Re: Replacement cycle....

        @Martin: a whole 8 hours a day! Why, that's nearly as much as every office PC monitor in the land, it's like, a _third_ of what many monitors do 24/7 (literally)

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Replacement cycle....

          @1st Dave: yes, but how many of those are left on "standby" overnight rather than being properly switched off? How many of them are actually "on" for the full 8 hours, rather than occasionally going into standby when the user leaves them alone for five minutes?

          It seems to us (across *lots* of bits of kit) that one of the things that kills power supplies is being disconnected from the mains. Great example: the original projectors I mentioned usually failed - if we hadn't already removed them because of the LCDs - due to the "bootstrap" capacitors in the PSU. So long as the thing was connected to the mains and merely switched between "standby" and "on" every day, they were fine, but open up the back to replace the lamp, thus physically disconnecting the power (there was a door switch) and they would often refuse to start up again.

          As I said, most of our monitors are on switched power circuits. When the visitors leave at 5pm the video players are stopped (and go into a kind of standby) and a couple of minutes later dirty great contactors remove power from probably 80% of the exhibition. If a monitor is going to fail, it will often be the following morning when it fails to turn back on.

          So the 5 - 6 years at 8 hours I suggested is what I see here when you include (repairable / replaceable) PSU faults. As I mentioned, probably a bit longer if you exclude PSU failures. Put it this way, I *think* from memory that there is currently a stack of about a dozen monitors waiting to be taken away by our WEEE people, and several have already left the premises. The rate of failure seems to have increased in the last year or so. In the context of 9 years and (somewhere in the region of) 60 monitors of all types, I'm not sure what to think.


      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Replacement cycle....

        > 17" 4:3 1280x1024 monitors with DVI and hard glass are particularly difficult (anyone know a supplier?).

        I've got six Compaq/Dell/HP monitors sitting in a clients store room - located in the Northampton area, if it's of any help.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Replacement cycle....

          If they also have touch screens and are "open frame" (or at least will fit in our setwork) then maybe.

          Touchscreens in setwork (not terribly brilliant photos, sorry):

          One 17" unit (foreground)

          Three 19" units, portrait mounted


          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Replacement cycle....

            I'll have a look on my next visit, but doubt any are touch screen due to when they were swapped out...

      4. roger stillick

        Re: Replacement cycle= replace monitor w/laptop...

        Glass monitor screen ?? don't replace it, substitute a 17 in glass screen Bonobo Extreme laptop 8 cpu Ubuntu from Sys76 and run ANYTHING from MS in VM (except touch screen).

        Laptops make really good Workstation replacements for OFC, SO-HO use, not usefull at all in museum setting if displays are to be operational... a stable platform w/ 4 VM's running UNIX, LINUX, GNU, and MS-7 something... all stable and can dedicate 2 procs to each w/dedicated ram and disk swapping, apparently some type of KVM software keeps things stable as you jump around between OS's...have seen both l7 chipped desktop setup running MS-7, and this Ubuntu I7 chipped laptop do this for use in a 4 year comp-sci program...need at least MS and Linux for GIS mapping certificates... UNIX for HTML study... GNU for Menu driven UI's... the laptop or the complete desktop under USD $2k...RS.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Replacement cycle....

      I bought a new monitor just a couple of months ago. Not to replace anything, but because I got a treadmill desk, and wanted a big monitor for it without changing the monitor at the old sit-down desk.

      It never even occurred to me to consider a touchscreen beast.

      On the other hand, when I bought my ultrabook, the touchscreens were so common I had to make a conscious effort to avoid them. I expect that's where the market really is.

  4. localzuk

    Obsession with tablets

    Why are the media so obsessed with tablets. Every article about sales of PC related equipment makes the rather giant leap that everyone is shifting to tablets, rather than looking at it with a bit more nuance and realising that a modern PC lasts a lot longer than it used to.

    Example: A core 2 duo PC from 6 years ago is still perfectly fine for running Windows 7 or 8 in a business environment. Am LCD monitor from 6 years ago is also perfectly fine too. The LCDs here are mostly on their second generation, some even third generation, of desktop PCs.

    In my experience, people aren't buying tablets *instead* of laptops and PCs. They're buying them *as well as* PCs and laptops.

    But as always, people won't replace something if it still works in most cases.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Obsession with tablets @localzuk

      The assertion is a leap of faith without anybody doing the proper market analysis.

      What marketeers are seeing is PC sales, particularly desktops, slowing down (because people are happy with what they have) at the same time as tablets sales have increased. They put 2+2 together and get something close to 10, and then predict that tablets are replacing PCs.

      I totally agree with you. I've been saying for a long time that technological pressures to replace desktop and laptop systems has effectively been removed from the equation. Systems have become too powerful. Any non-budget machine built in the last 5-7 years will still be very usable today (my current laptop is a 9 year old Thinkpad running Ubuntu with Gnome Flashback). To paraphrase, if it ain't broke, don't replace it!

      The manufacturers were hoping with XP out of support, that many people would ditch older but still serviceable machines, leading to new sales. It hasn't happened. Lots of people I know still keep their Vista, Win7 and even XP systems running for real PC work, especially if they have augmented their IT provision with a phab/tablets for media consumption. And when they do replace a system because it breaks, a member of my extended family is doing quite good business selling refurbished ex-corporate systems at a significantly lower price than a new system. Computers are getting even more like cars!.

      I still say that there should be a push from someone like Which! to encourage people to see whether their Core systems can have their life extended still further by installing Linux once the security situation for XP and Vista becomes untenable (i.e. when Banks and on-line shopping emporia stop letting IE8 and earlier, and older versions of Firefox, from connecting).

  5. Sebastian A

    My new work laptop has a touch screen.

    And Windows 7.

    A colleague tried to touch it to do something, he got a rap on the knuckles. Keep your greasy mitts off the damn screen.

    So what if 11% of laptops shipped with touch screens. How many of those are actually being touched? I doubt it's even half.

    Touch on laptops/desktops is a failed tech, already being made obsolete by gesture. Write it off as a niche solution and move on.

  6. qwarty

    chicken or egg?

    This summer I was looking for a 17-19" touchscreen monitor - seemed useful to have something portable for demo purposes as well as development. Nothing available at a price compatible with assembly costs.

    Apparently manufacturers just aren't making touchscreen monitors nor is anyone marketing them except for specialist purposes such as kiosks.

    Its hardly surprising sales are low when they aren't being made for sale to the desktop market, we can't draw any conclusions about whether people would pay +£50 for the touchscreen version of a monitor if they aren't offered the option.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Bad metric

    "Windows 8 [...] racked up plenty of sales"

    Technically that may be true, but we all know how Microsoft gets to count its "sales". If Windows was not the de facto universal OS pre-installed on every PC, but had to be bought in addition to the PC, then those sales numbers would be drastically inferior.

    There has always been enormous effort deployed in trying to find out which OSes are actually used, and that gives us market share of IE figures and such.

    Yet we are still given sales figures in any piece that tries to expound on how important the latest version of Windows is. That is not the proper reference, and we should only hear about it when reading about Microsoft share price.

  8. Steven Raith

    RSI issues?

    Serious questions - I tested photocopiers for Xerox in their WGC operation about ten years ago. The process mostly involved checking for skew and artifacts from platen scans (although lots of document feeder testing was done too, natch) - lifting the platen - which isn't that heavy - dozens of times a day for a year has left me with shooting pains down my right arm, ten years later.

    How does a touchscreen compare for that sort of shoulder work?

    Steven R

  9. breakfast

    Better alternatives ahead

    Given that Microsoft own all the fancy kinect stuff, I for one hope that we will see a move to computers controlled by dance.

    That would make for healthier office workers and substantially more hilarious offices.

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Windows Phone sales

    On a certain website dedicated to WP users there's a comment, actually a quote overheard by a contributor, making the point that phone (and tablet) users who had already got used to Android (or Apple) machines weren't familiar or comfortably with using these new Windows phone thingies.

    Which points up what happened. It seems pretty clear that the marketing types convinced Microsoft's managers that the way to move people on was to get to them through the desktop.

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