End of Windows XP support slowing PC industry bleed, says Gartner

End of Windows XP support slowing PC industry bleed, says Gartner

Summary: Don't expect a turnaround from the PC industry just yet. Global shipments dropped between one and five percent during the first quarter, depending on varying analyst reports.


Worldwide PC shipments dropped (again) during the first quarter, and how badly things slipped depends on which market research firm you follow more.

The IDC reported a sharper drop, albeit not as badly as expected, with an estimated decline of 4.4 percent annually versus a prediction of 5.3 percent lower. That equated to roughly 73.4 million shipped worldwide during the quarter.

Gartner, on the other hand, responded with an observed drop of only 1.7 percent year-over-year with 76.6 million units shipped.

Such a disparity between results, typically published simultaneously after market close once each quarter, can be common, often coming down to a difference in definition.

IDC categorizes PCs to include desktops, portables, ultraslim notebooks, and workstations but not "handhelds, x86 Servers and Tablets (i.e. iPad, Tablets with detachable keyboards running either Windows or Android)." Whereas Gartner counts "desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8, but excludes Chromebooks and other tablets."

Regardless, there might be a bigger takeaway here, which is further speculation that the PC industry slow down (or slow death, to some) might actually be slowing down.

Gartner is accrediting Microsoft's decision to end support for Windows XP, a move regarded controversial by some but maybe offers a silver lining after all.

Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, said as much in Wednesday's report, adding that the PC industry is showing signs of improvement, albeit faster in regions such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa more so than the United States.

All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter. Among key countries, Japan was greatly affected by the end of XP support, registering a 35 percent year-over-year increase in PC shipments. The growth was also boosted by sales tax change. We expect the impact of XP migration worldwide to continue throughout 2014.

Loren Loverde, vice president of the Worldwide PC Trackers team at IDC, concurred as much to say that "the economic front seems to be gradually stabilizing and/or improving," suggesting that the PC industry might mirror this movement. However, he warned that while there "is potential for PC shipments to stabilize," there is "not much opportunity for growth."

Yet, Rajani Singh, a senior research analyst covering personal computing at IDC, was a little more optimistic by noting that "PC shipment growth in the United States remained slightly faster than most other regions in the first quarter."

But Singh quickly ended that positive train-of-thought by concluding "the passing boost from XP replacements, constrained consumer demand, and no clear driver of a market rebound are expected to keep growth below zero going forward."

As far as the power players are concerned, most of the vendor scoreboards remain about the same.

Lenovo and HP led both analyst reports on a global basis, respectively. Domestically, the two swapped with HP on top and Lenovo in second, according to both IDC and Gartner.


Charts via IDC, Gartner

Topics: Hardware, Lenovo, PCs, Tech Industry, Windows

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  • Oh well...

    Businesses are not going to run on toy Android or no-reason-to exist Chromebooks... PC sales are going to shoot thru the roof in the next few quarters...
    • ... and pigs will flight

      ... and chickens will have teeth.
      • and pigs will fly attached to bicycles like the ET

      • Bahahaha..

        Windows is free now... so pigs will fly and chickens will have teeth...lol...
        • windows is set in business for the next 5 years or so

          I'm not convinced in that long-term though. we'll have to see how windows continues to evolve compared to how other platforms evolve.
    • Except for the fact that they're not

      We've been doing this for over four quarters now. The PC's heyday is in the past. We'll always have them, we'll always need them; but they've gone from being the cool thing to the stove or refrigerator of computing.
    • Except for the fact that they're not

      We've been doing this for over four quarters now. The PC's heyday is in the past. We'll always have them, we'll always need them; but they've gone from being the cool thing to the stove or refrigerator of computing.
      • Need or compulsion?

        When you look at "standard" business offices, we're being forced into ever-higher powered machines but I have yet to see a real boost in productivity. I said (lower down) that I still have use for an IBM PC/AT running DOS 3.3. As a glorified typewriter, it's only drawing about 100 Watts power in total. For material that has to be "today-compatible", I'm using a 64-bit system that's sucking nearly 1200 Watts and the reality is that it's still only a glorified typewriter. All my internet stuff is done on an ancient laptop drawing about 100 Watts.
        • Agreed

          Whoever flagged your comment is a complete moron.
          • It wasn't I...

            ...but as soon as I read the part about a 1200 watt 64-bit system I knew why. Big part of newer systems is massively REDUCED power draw. Productivity isn't measured in how many documents I typed today. The computer's strength lies in its ability to quickly and efficiently store large amounts of data, search for specific data based on user requirements quickly and efficiently, perform complex data analysis and deliver the results based on the processing of large amounts of complex and often seemingly unrelated data in a variety of methods tailored to the business need of the user. We are generations ahead of where we were in that regard. The use of a computer to do nothing more than replace your old IBM Selectric Typewriter is a waste of resources but if a user sincerely does nothing more with the system than that then there is absolutely no reason to upgrade anything until you have worn the old one out completely. Any computer with any word processor will still do better than an old typewriter.
            The Heretic
        • You should get a new computer.

          Something with Haswell or maybe even baytrail...1200 watts, I wondered who was killing the planet with their non-eco friendly consumer electronics. No wonder.
  • ouch!

    Acer is hemorrhaging!
    on the other hand it's nice to see Dell on the up swing. Mr. Dell's efforts are paying off. I'd love to see him make a solid push into mobile in the next year or so.
  • Ubuntu

    I have been a Windows user since Windows 98, and I got to say, Ubuntu is a very good alternative to Windows XP. Steam is available for Linux now and Libre Office comes with Ubuntu. Why pay $120 for Windows when Ubuntu offers almost the same features for free? I am not going to switch to Linux anytime in the future, but Ubuntu especially has matured to where its blurring the lines between it and what is offered in Windows.
    Pollo Pazzo
    • ubuntu and a few other linux distros are great alternatives

      if I had an old XP machine I certainly wouldn't drop $150 on W8. it's a good system too but at $150 you might as well put that towards a new machine. if I had an old XP machine tho I think I'd just not bother changing the OS at all- the insecurity of it is highly overblown assuming you're not downloading shady crap (and anyone who could switch to linux is experienced enough not to download and install shady crap).
    • Vista is a alternative

      When Vista was first released, it lacked driver support and really needed SP1 to fix some issues with it. You can now pick up a DVD of Vista for ~$10. With SP1 its a pretty good OS. Even when it drops from support, its far more secure than XP so run as user and you should be fine for years to come. Heck, by the time W9 is out and people start moving to that, used W7 or 8 DVDs should start becoming cheap.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • Disposability and "planned obsolescence" need to be seriously rethought.

    A colleague of mine had an XP machine that was falling apart. When it was replaced with a Win8 machine, she was suddenly up for extra costs as her comparatively new scanner was NOT supported, neither was her printer.

    Although these products were faultless and had plenty of useful life ahead of them, they were rendered useless and are headed for land-fill.

    Personally, I have a LARGE collection of decent HP and Dell monitors which are going to be difficult to sell off for a reasonable price because people are now going to expect touch-sreens as standard, although they're more likely to continue using the mouse on a desktop station.

    I implore manufactures to become more active in the recycling and/or repurposing of older equipment. Don't be fooled by current claims of "recycling" because 90% of items handed-in become third world land-fill. There are plenty of Youtube videos showing giant dumping grounds where all of the content is I.T. equipment.

    Here, in Australia, there are huge stockpiles of PET soda bottles that have not been recycled. There is currently development of a project (University of Sydney, I think) to convert these bottles to a form of hydro-carbon fuel! Is this not madness? Why aren't readily disposable I.T. peripherals (mouses, keyboards) made from PET? Except for wiring and electronics, PET lends itself to the production of all mechanical components of a keyboard from "spring" to membrane and from casing to keytops. Oh dear, my $10 - $100 keyboard has failed----back into the melting pot and, voila, here's a replacement at almost zero cost because an absolute minimum of raw materials has been used.

    Linux does offer the advantage that backward compatibility means the smarties out there can continue to use "legacy" equipment until it has reached genuine End-of-Life. Y2K issues aside, I still use an original IBM AT with DOS 3.3, so there!
    • Compatibility

      There's a pretty good chance that you can find a driver that works for almost any equipment to work on W8 as long as USB. Heck, even my Surface RT I was able to get an old HP printer to work with it by just using another driver that was close enough to it. Now if you talking about software for those devices, you can always run a VM of XP to use them if you want.

      As far as your old monitors, nobody wants those as display technology has cont. to advance yearly. I can't stand looking at a monitor that is only a few years old now. The only company that has gotten around this obsolescence, IMHO, is Apple since they had really good displays to begin with.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • Mistake

    It's a mistake, IMHO, to not count "tablets with detachable keyboards." The ASUS T100, the Microsoft Surface, or my own choice, a Dell Venue 11 Pro, are every but as much a Windows "PC" as a traditional notebook whose screen does not detach.
  • Being happy about the XP uptick...

    is like a painter on the Titanic happy he gets to paint the lifeboats as they are swung out...
    Tony Burzio
  • Win8 Great OS; but fails in User Interface & Functional Consistency

    Windows 8 has created major productivity problems for business users with desktop PCs who must now transition from XP; so much so that we are faced with a complete change in the essential business tool, once known as the desktop PC. Microsoft has innovated with tablets and games and phones, but ignored their billion-plus customers who achieved sustained productivity on desktop PCs for everyday business. China recognized Microsoft's distractions from its core business early enough to standardize on software other than Windows, so the company has most likely lost the Chinese market forever.

    In its quest for new business beyond its core, Microsoft chose a "me too" strategy in the already-crowded markets of tablets, phones and games. Microsoft squandered their enviable lead in desktop PCs with self-deceptive abstractions instead of core innovation. Think of it: a major company who let half of their nearly sole-source business slip away to pursue entertainment gadgets and consumer fads - - What a case study! Exit Ballmer.

    PCs represent a mature industry, which we consider to be business tools that must be reliable, stable and affordable to support our everyday processes. While computer innovations are often welcomed, interface familiarity is the first rule of user productivity for any business tool. Microsoft has botched this rule again and again. Neither large companies nor small business owners like me can afford productivity disruptions or costly training to adopt the non-traditional, non-intuitive, cellphone-like displays that Microsoft pushed upon its vast population of desktop users. It must be noted that the "innards" of Windows OS have vastly improved over the decades. In fact, Windows 8.1, as an OS, is superior to its predecessors. But radical changes in its User Interface (UI) have so negatively impacted personal productivity of desktop PC users that Microsoft has achieved a state of "nonovation" to spoil an otherwise exemplary product.

    When Microsoft introduced "ribbons" to replace familiar menus in their office suite, experienced users were distracted by having to search for functions and commands they used for a decade or more. Now, Metro tiles remind serious users of toy-like displays instead of the familiar icons on a desktop that were as intuitive as a QWERTY keyboard. Sure, you can minimize the ribbon; but where did Microsoft hide those familiar commands we used in the previous release? This isn't about change under a guise of innovation. You need to stand by frustrated PC users with ten to twenty years of experience to hear their anger over Microsoft's abject stupidity for changing and removing features and functions that worked so well in previous versions. This is why rants continue from experienced users of Microsoft products when the company releases what they believe to be improvements; in fact, they have become disruptions.

    If you've read this far, you know that this tome was written on behalf of American business owners who are faced with a significant productivity downturn because of poorly executed human factors engineering in ubiquitous desktop PC operating systems. There will be some trolls who reply to my post with juvenile and groundless remarks about adding third-party software to fix Microsoft's OS for those living in the last Century. These same geniuses spend much of their time playing Angry Birds and tweeting each other with deep questions like, "WuzUp". Ask them to name one significant contribution they've made to business productivity or the advancement of humanity in their lifetimes; sending "selfies" doesn't count. Ask them if their third-party Windows 8 UI patch assures your PC and your network of the same security and efficiency that Microsoft's original product affords before it was modified; they are clueless.

    The reason for my preamble is because some commenters on this site believe their opinions have merit. While they are famous in their own minds, the fact is that these "CommenTrolls" are unemployable in the real world of advanced systems development, which leads them to post groundless remarks that are irrelevant to productive commerce. I'm reasonably certain that a few are employed at a large software company in Redmond. More on the CommenTrolls later; but rest assured that they don't know the basics of Capability Maturity Models in software development or ISO 9000/9001 in engineering/manufacturing. Be leery of their responses. But I digress; back to the problem (Win8 UI) in search of alternatives.

    Microsoft presented its existing customers with a radical, non-intuitive User Interface from previous UIs that became familiar and ubiquitous over the past few decades. Users learned and became proficient in navigating on Win95 and then XP, but are now generally confounded over much more than just the missing "Start" button. The fact is that nearly every Windows UI function has changed in Win8 since XP, despite what some technical writers may claim. When you read a rant by one of the trolls who claim "the 'Start' button is there and you can use a desktop without Metro", you can be sure that you're reading false statements from uneducated amateurs who have no formal education or practical experience in Human Factors Engineering (HFE).

    My bet is that Satya Nadella is already ramping up the HFE department because he wants all of those billion desktop PCs to use the Microsoft OS. Recent MSFT prices indicate he's already taking away the crayons and comic books from some of his employees; only the shallowest of analysts would attribute the stock's increase to Office for the iPad and/or mobile devices. If that were true, it would be another "too late/me too" reaction that Microsoft practiced in Ballmer days; it is Nadella now, and he's no dummy.

    The good news is that Windows 8 is the best operating system that Microsoft has produced to date. We just completed nearly a month of comparative testing among four control groups: a few dozen of our current Win7 PCs; ten recently acquired Apples; eighteen of the most recent Linux distributions on PCs; and fourteen PCs with the Windows 8.1 OS. Windows 8.1's OS rated superior against its competitors. I emphasize that this comparison was for how well Operating Systems performed, not user interfaces or applications compatibility. Apple's OS lagged slightly behind Win8, but was tied for security and it beat Win8 for applications compatibility. Maintenance was nearly equal, although Windows 8.1 had a slight edge over competitors. We did not account for acquisition costs alone; we used total cost of ownership as the budgetary measure, and Windows edged out Apple by a slight margin (12% if you have to know).

    Linux (Mint & Fedora) was a distant fourth in all tests. We concluded that Linux was all over the map (it did not offer a consistent UI that would meet business needs, and the Linux OS is not as efficient as Microsoft or Apple for the suite of business functions we employ. Like Android, Linux is still a work in process. Earlier this year, we had seriously considered switching to either Apple or Linux by year's end. After the tests, it was clear that our PCs will use Windows 7 for the balance of the year and migrate to Windows 8+ if Microsoft releases an OS that is designed for desktop PCs. Again, Nadella is not Ballmer, and I think he's going to want to win back the segment he lost to disgruntled business users.

    We will reevaluate the entire field again in 2015 if Microsoft doesn't offer a traditional UI for desktop PCs in the Windows 8x series or Windows 9. Parenthetically, it is remarkable that Dell didn't cease the opportunity to develop a traditional desktop PC software bundle based on Linux that addressed the needs of business users when they discovered Windows 8 was the biggest impediment to selling new desktop PCs. Metro is certainly appropriate for some PC users, but that portion of the market remains small compared to classic desktop PC users with an installed base of a billion PCs.

    As part of our evaluation, we ran a small effort to assess tablets and touch-screen-equipped PCs as a replacement for traditional desktop PCs. Tablets were not even close to delivering the same productivity levels as desktops in the majority of our business applications. However, we found that tablets can be applied to a few business tasks that perform as well or better than desktops in selected business environments (e.g., a limited number of engineering, logistics and advanced systems manufacturing tasks). The logistical cost of ownership will keep us from adopting tablets for these few "boutique applications" for the same reason as Southwest Airlines standardized their fleet with B-737s. Touch-screens performed terribly against traditional desktop PCs with approximately 78% lower productivity, most often due to users who had to "reach" for the display to evoke commands that were previously executed by mouse-clicks, function keys and macros. BTW, I'm summarizing 160 hours of tablet and touch-screen comparative tests in a few sentences to avoid boring you with nitpicking details.

    I should mention that we're a 200+ person advanced systems developer; not a daycare center designing two-dollar apps or juvenile games. We have nearly 300 PCs in this organization (most use Win7) and several dozen Sun SPARCs (now Oracle) on Solaris. Our software team comprises about 28% of our business; the balance of employees includes electrical, mechanical and systems engineers, with a few physics and math majors thrown in for laughs. We design and build systems ranging from HyperSpectral Imagery and TeraHertz Radar (sensors) to airborne command and control suites - - so we're not building X-Box games and apps for smartphones. We decided to apply 20% of our current year's IR&D to office productivity tests that would resolve the desktop PC productivity dilemma caused by Microsoft Metro, at least as it applies to our company. Sharing our observations may help other businesses make better choices than quickly jumping to Win 8, Apple or Linux-based computers due to emotional reactions.

    I promised to provide a few salient points on commenters who plague ZDNet's site with perilous opinions. When you read suggestions from the "CommenTrolls" (e.g., those who express their two cents about adding their favorite app to tweak Win8's mistaken UI), these uneducated amateurs are suggesting that you trust your network security to a third-party application like Start Menu or Classic Shell so you can regain the familiar user interface of an XP-like desktop screen. A word of industrial strength advice for the sake of security: Don't trust third party apps that modify your Operating System! We tested several UI apps to restore a traditional desktop appearance, but found them to open Win8.1 to vulnerabilities.

    If Microsoft were to purchase one of the "Desktop Shell" companies and integrate the product with Win8 source code, the results could be hardened against penetration. Otherwise, it's a crap-shoot. So let's dispense with recommendations from the amateurs and listen up Microsoft - - learn something about how to reinvigorate not just your software business, but the hardware business that has slumped because the majority of desktop users do not want Windows 8 Metro - - period. Desktop users want familiar interfaces and functions they already know and use; IT departments want stable and secure operating systems; and business owners want productivity and security from our IT investments.

    In the meantime, I'm holding my Microsoft stock. The company has a new CEO who is anxious to capture the billion+ desktop PC market. Nadella is not about to surrender a huge opportunity when less than a thousand man-hours of Win8 GUI development can regain market Microsoft's OS share. On the other hand, if he decides to be as bone-headed as Ballmer, Microsoft will find itself in the graveyard with Digital Equipment Corp, Wang, and Xerox Data Systems. Stock tip: Hold MSFT, at least until August, 2014.

    In summary, our tests of Windows 8.1 demonstrated the OS itself is a superior operating system in many respects: performance, security, affordability and maintenance. Our hope is that the inconsistent Human Factors (UI) at Microsoft for its billion desktop PC users will be resolved by Nadella when he releases a version of Windows that does not disrupt business user productivity. But hope is not a plan; we will keep Win7 on our PCs and reevaluate migration to Win8x or the rumored Win9 if a traditional UI is offered. The bottom line to Satya Nadella from American business owners: Get with THE program (the OS) and stop playing games! It can add $50B to your revenue, and I might make a few bucks on my MSFT stock.

    P.S. for Nadella: If your current programmers can't write code that allows desktop PC users to choose a traditional Windows desktop and its functionality versus a Metro-tiled interface, replace the entire group with a few new hires, because that's all it takes to do the job. Break the Microsoft tradition by listening to your existing Microsoft customers who would like to be repeat customers if you support them. As a reward for your accomplishment, we will cease using codename "Landfill" for the Windows 8 OS, and MSFT will rise 34% by year's end.

    P.S. for CommenTrolls: Visit an Airport Control Tower to observe the Human Factors Engineering (HFE) that's used to provide controllers with desktops and displays that are familiar, intuitive and under tight configuration control measures to assure simple functions are preserved throughout the system. You must understand that the "system" includes hardware, software and its operators. Let's assume the FAA will allow you to change UIs, menus, functions and commands every time you introduce a new software release. Ask the controllers what impact this would have on their productivity, and more importantly, on safety of operations. Then, get on the next flight these controllers will direct using your software upgrade. If you make it through the ordeal of the air traffic controllers learning a new UI while you taxi and takeoff, consider the impact of the UI changes you made to once-familiar functions on your enroute and landing safety. Let's assume by some miracle you arrived at your destination in one piece. This would be a good time to read a textbook on HFE and come back and tell us why your advice on having business users change to tiles and touch-screens makes sense. If you still don't understand these concepts, crawl in your holes and play games on your tablets, for that is where Windows 8.1 shines! It is the OS for people with dle time who have nothing to contribute to mankind's progress. Instead of wasting cyberspace with your irrelevant comments, write the code for a soft-switch that allows experienced desktop PC users to select a classic UI with all the functionality of previous Windows versions. If you complete this task, you can claim a marginal contribution to the betterment of civilization that should have been included with the original release. Meanwhile, Windows 8's codename remains "Landfill" among experienced PC users.