back to article Looks like the party's over, folks: Global PC sales set to shrink as Windows 10 upgrade cycle tails off, says Gartner

What goes up must come down, or so it seems for the PC market. The mini recovery in global shipments we have seen over the last year is forecast to be short-lived by analyst shop Gartner, and it’s mostly because many businesses have done the heavy upgrade work to Windows 10 by now. Roughly 261 million computers were sold into …

  1. illiad

    these stats seem to only reflect *new* PCs... there is a much larger market for refurbished systems, including those made to order, then not sold...

    also a lot of big orders for upgrading the 'internals' - new mother board, etc, etc..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "there is a much larger market for refurbished systems, including those made to order, then not sold..."

      The overall PC market is around 250 million units/year with upgrades (i.e. anything added more than 30 days after equipment purchase) accounting for around 10% of the annual market size (i.e. ~10 million desktops upgraded each year and ~15m laptops upgraded).

      To be market affecting, you need to be looking at an addition 1 million units+ being upgraded or refurbished otherwise it is likely to already be included as a factor in the larger calculations.

      And upgrades/refurbishment has followed the broad market trends (declining at a similar rate to annual desktop sales).

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      > there is a much larger market for refurbished systems

      Indeed. I purchased 10 PCs last year. 7 of those were refurbished PCs I got from my local electronics recycler.

  2. Spanners Silver badge


    Will there be a 128 bit version some day? 256?? 1024????

    Those might be a reason to get new hardware. Alternatively, they might be yet another reason to again consider a "grown up" operating system long enough to get a rebate from Slurp Central.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps

      Windows no matter what the CPU word length is (16, 32,64, 128 etc) is still like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how sexy the colour is, it is still a pig underneath.

      Proudly windows free for more than 3 years.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Perhaps

        So proud of being windows free that you put your name as AC?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perhaps

          Anonymous Coward is the cousin of Noel

      2. JakeMS
        Thumb Up

        Re: Perhaps

        I've also switched a couple of years ago in 2003.

        The downside with being Windows-free is that if I'm given a Windows system these days, I've no idea what to do with it. I just get lost in menus trying to find the simplest of things.

        But on topic here, a newer cpu technology could indeed boost hardware sales if that technology was good enough to truly warrant the upgrade.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps


      Those are just numbers, I think every other bottleneck on the machine would have to be improved tenfold before needing 128bit processor rather than 64 became an issue

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps

      We are a LONG way from hitting the limits of a 64 bit address space. We might see 128 bit addressing someday, but that'll definitely be it.

  3. ArrZarr Silver badge

    All you needed to do was call Gartner "Crystal Ball Gazers" and I'd have had bingo.

  4. alain williams Silver badge

    "there will not be a Windows 11"

    Maybe not, but that is just the name, a marketing thing. I fully expect that future versions of MS Windows 10 will change the profile of hardware needed to run it and also drop support for some items of hardware that are in use today.

    The result will be that occasional hardware refreshes will be needed - but people will be unaware of the need until after an update has landed and either performance drops as the machine is not beefy enough or it just does not work resulting in a panic hardware upgrade.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

      does it ever end?

      When are the machines fast enough?

      Especially when you're talking about upgrading to a beefier machine just to RUN THE OS?

      i.e just to switch on?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

        Window's minimum requirements have not changed since Win 7 (1GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 16GB HDD space, ie, about a mid-spec phone in 2020).

        I suspect hardware and software upgrades are being done at the same time, because it's just easier for IT departments.

        (Of course, if your machine has those minimum specs it's going to be slow no matter what OS you run. On a more reasonable spec, say 2.5GHz dual core CPU, 4GB RAM and 100GB+ SSD, Win 10 is going to be just slightly faster than 7 or 8.)

    2. OtotheJ

      Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

      In Shock News... Technology moves on!

      Are you still expecting to receive digital broadcasts on your CRT portable TV?

      I get that Capitalism is at work here but really? You expect to never have to upgrade your PC hardware?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

        well , i dont expect to have to throw away a car that I bought 5 years ago as its now "obsolete" and wont handle todays roads despite its job of driving to the supermarket once per week being exactly the same and the machine itself being in tip top like new condition.

        1. IGotOut

          Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

          And why is that pc obsolete that's 5 years old? Mine is and it runs win 10 just fine.

          It was a bit sluggish, so swapped out the HDD for a ssd and it's got it a few more years in it no problem.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

        > You expect to never have to upgrade your PC hardware?

        PS hardware became more than good enough to meet my needs a long time ago. While I wouldn't say that I'd never have to upgrade, the need to do so is pretty low and infrequent.

    3. GekkePrutser

      Re: "there will not be a Windows 11"

      Indeed Windows 10 has already dropped some systems - albeit some very ancient low-powered atoms.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the major hardware vendors would put pressure on Microsoft to increase doing this (as Intel effectively did that time).

      On the other hand, most of the PC business is purely the business market and those will generally stick to a 3-4 year replacement cycle. There will be a steady stream of sales there. I work for a major enterprise and even though some sales departments have tried using iPad Pros as their sole computing device, trials have not been very successful.

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    Wait for next weeks stats

    No need to worry folks, Gartner will produce a new report with different results, that don't surprise anyone , next week. Same as they hae been doing for many a year already...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait for next weeks stats

      If you can't be right, at least cover all bases....

    2. Toltec

      Re: Wait for next weeks stats

      What we need is a Gartner report on year on year growth of Gartner reports.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Wait for next weeks stats

        Possibly. But what we really need is a yearly report on how many of their wild guesses of previous years actually hit the mark.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Wait for next weeks stats

          Just like astrology and financial forecasting then?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody upgraded at my job.

    The IT department just slapped Windows 10 in every machine, from even the humblest Core 2 Duos with 2GB of RAM all the way up. Yes, Dell Optiplex 380's.

    Those that were lucky had their hard drive trashed from the excessive paging of the swap file and got replaced with SSD's. My personal record was 20 minutes to boot Windows 7 on those buggers.

    By a blessing of destiny, my machine was upgraded to 4GB of RAM as the hard drive was replaced, so I got the 'premium package' (BWAHAHAHAH, SHOOT ME OUT OF MY MISERY NOW) with 4GB RAM and booting from SSD.

    All other machines below that were scrapped. They gave people ANDROID TABLETS that were faster than those desktops anyway.

    But nobody bought new PCs here.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Nobody upgraded at my job.

      >> But nobody bought new PCs here.

      Not yet any way. Give them 6 months of working with Android tablets...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nobody upgraded at my job.

      Ditto. The general thinking for the average user is if the PC can run IE, Word and Excel then what else do you need a PC to do? Most of our desktop apps were written just as C# began to replace VB6, so they don't need much grunt. If devs beg hard enough to a sympathetic manager they might get upgraded to 8gb but only if they're on a "favoured project" where time is money and the need to get builds out. We're outsourcing a lot of our needs to external managed apps and most of us are working on browser based apps and infra management cloud services so we you just need enough grunt to run IE with 45 tabs open(!), you manage that and you don't get anything new unless...

      You're a PHB and you know the CEO personally, then you can have a nice shiny new Macbook!

      1. DJV Silver badge

        "shiny new Macbook"

        Or maybe something far more appropriate.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Nobody upgraded at my job.

        > We're outsourcing a lot of our needs to external managed apps and most of us are working on browser based apps and infra management cloud services

        Oh, that's awful. I'm so sorry!

  7. Maximum Delfango

    Gartner != accurate

    For all values of accurate.

  8. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    Yogi Berra said that predictions are hard, especially about the future. Someone remind me, when has Gartner's ever been right? And someone tell me why a company whose forecasts are much much worse than a random coin flip is paid money to forecast the future?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Gartner is always right, for a given definition or right. The definition is always provided by whoever commisions, and therefore pays for, the report. Microsoft no longer cares as much since it discovered how much more of the value chain it could own through SaaS.

  9. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Just built my new PC

    I just built a new PC from all-new parts ... something I haven't done in 10-15 years. So it won't count towards Lenovo or HP's bottom line. It won't even count towards Microsoft's bottom line because it runs Kubuntu. And it replaced *two* older computers, so there goes a small shrink in the PC fleet...

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Just built my new PC

      Does make you wonder how much PC estates have shrunk due to virtualisation. For what I do now I'd have needed at least 10 PCs in the past (or at least swappable HDDs/multi-boot). Now it's just 2 PCs with HyperV. Next time I upgrade, I'll probably drop to one PC then use my regular laptop plugged into multiple screens and a proper keyboard.

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "“The PC market’s future is unpredictable because there will not be a Windows 11"

    More likely unpredictable because the constant arbitrary tweaking of of Win 10 will leave real users (anyone other than just social media junkies) unable to make best use of their machines . Sorry not "their" machines of course - they all belong to MS now, you're just a "user".

  11. Rockets

    No Compelling Reason for Most People to Upgrade

    PC sales have been falling simply because for most peoples use, especially office workers, a 5 year old PC still can cut the mustard especially if it had a SSD and 4 or 8GB of RAM. We replaced the PC's at my Dad's office recently due to Win 7 retirement and the PC's were well out of warranty. We used i3 NUC's with M2 SSD's and 8 GB and they are plenty fast enough for their use case which is basically Office 2016, MYOB AccountRight and Web apps.

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