Windows 8 fails to save dwindling PC market in Western Europe

Windows 8 fails to save dwindling PC market in Western Europe

Summary: The broader availability of Microsoft's latest operating sytem has done little to prop up the ailing PC market in Western Europe.


The PC market in Western Europe declined by 20.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 despite the debut of Windows 8 on an increasing number of devices.

The figures, released on Wednesday by IT analyst Gartner, revealed that the total number of PCs shipped in Western Europe over the first quarter of this year was 12.3 million and that sales were continuing to fall year-on year as smartphones and tablets become increasingly popular.

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"The first quarter of 2013 brought the worst quarterly decline in Western Europe since Gartner started tracking PC shipments in this region," said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner, on Wednesday.  

"Wide availability of Windows 8-based PCs could not boost consumer PC purchases during the quarter. Although the new Metro-style user interface suits new form factors, users wonder about its suitability for traditional PCs — non-touchscreen desktops and notebooks."

Mobile and desktop PC shipments were down 24.6 percent and 13.8 percent respectively. Meanwhile, the professional PC and consumer PC markets were down 17.2 percent and 23.7 percent respectively.

HP remained the market leader in Western Europe with 19.7 percent of the market, while Acer held on to second place with 11.7 percent. However, both companies saw their overall PC market shrink in the region by more than 30 percent.

Lenovo and Apple were the only companies out of the top five vendors to achieve growth in Western Europe.

Lenovo, which recorded the third-highest market share in Western Europe with 11.6 percent, claimed share in the consumer PC market from both Acer and HP, according to the report. The company also competed well with HP and Dell in the professional PC market. 

"The battle for consumer wallet share continues between different devices," Escherich said. "The PC is the first to fall by the wayside as usage patterns shift toward smartphones and tablets. This ongoing trend will have a profound impact on the size of the installed base of PCs."

Gartner Western Europe PC sales Q1 2013

In a report released in January, Gartner claimed that the fall of the PC and the rise of the tablet was causing billions to be sucked out of overall IT spend


A total of 2.5 million PCs were shipped in the UK in the first quarter of 2013, a fall of 15.8 percent on the previous year.

Consumer and professional PC sales fell by 23.5 percent and 7.5 percent respectively in the UK.

HP retained its position as the market leader in the UK despite losing nearly a quarter of its PC volume in a single year. Meanwhile, Acer experienced a decline of 26.6 percent. Lenovo was the only vendor in the UK to achieve growth after it performed well in the professional PC market.


A total of just over 2 million PCs were shipped in France in the first quarter of 2013, a decline of 25 percent on the corresponding period in 2012.

"We expect the PC market in France to show a double-digit decline in the second quarter of 2013," said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner.


PC sales in Germany were 2.6 million in the first quarter of 2013, a fall of 20 percent on the same period a year earlier.

Lenovo took over as the PC market leader in Germany in the third quarter of 2012 and held onto that lead in the first quarter of this year.  

"We expect this market to decline further through 2013. However, demand in the professional PC sector and the release of Intel's 'Haswell' processor could boost shipments in the second half of 2013 and into 2014,"  Escherich said.

Topics: PCs, Laptops, Smartphones, EU, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • not good

    "The first quarter of 2013 brought the worst quarterly decline in Western Europe since Gartner started tracking PC shipments in this region,"

    Windows 8 actually 'increased' the rate of decline, like adding more weight to a sinking ship, rather than patching the hole.

    Consumers today are more 'on the fence' the ever about getting a new PC. But now after experiencing the metro tiles interface, the decision tended toward not making the purchase.
    • Nothing can save that PIIGS land

      If you have money in European banks they may bail it in if the banks are in trouble. Economy is that shaky over there that they are willing to go this desparate.
  • The 'post PC' era is not upon us yet

    Certainly, there is a current fascination with tablets that has yet to run its course, but at some point, virtually everyone who wants one will have one, and THEN where will all the pundits go for their breathless predictions of dire consequences?

    PC sales are languishing for the same reason that many people are still using their iPhone 3...they can't see a compelling reason to upgrade. For many Windows users, their Windows XP is a trusty companion that meets their needs to get work done and connect with friends and business associates. They don't see that an upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 would materially change that.

    But Windows XP is on a countdown to official end-of-support in April 2014. At that time, all the Windows XP users will have to upgrade. Some of them will go to Windows 7 to be sure, but many will also move to the Windows 8 platform, which by then will be supplemented with this summer's upcoming Windows 'Blue' update, potentially making it a much different value proposition.

    So let's not be too quick to assign blame for lackluster new PC sales entirely at the feet of Windows 8. There are too many other factors at play in this environment to do that.
    • Fascination?

      "Certainly, there is a current fascination with tablets that has yet to run its course"

      Fascination is not what's driving tablet sales. Usability and portability are driving sales. There is no "running its course." Tablets fill the needs of many millions of users. I suppose if you bury your head far enough up your own anal orifice, you can blissfully trivialize the major paradigm shift taking place in personal computing. Personal companion devices are spreading like wildfire at precisely the same time desktop devices are crashing. That's not a magical coincidence. The connection is obvious.

      "at some point, virtually everyone who wants one will have one"

      Unlikely. Desktops stayed at saturation point for a couple decades and didn't stop selling until something better (tablets) came along. The same will hold for tablets. The old PC upgrade cycle of 3-5 years will now apply to tablets because of rapid advances in the technology. Unless something significantly better (neural computing via implants or personal assistant robots?) comes along, tablets are here to stay.

      Desktops are languishing because of tablets, for the most part. Most of the desktop PC owners I know, who have purchased tablets, are rarely using their desktops, now. These people never really needed the power of a desktop. Now, they're hooked on "everywhere computing."

      That said, Windows 8 definitely contributed to the slide. The drastic change made the decision to abandon desktops much easier for many. People figured, if they're going to switch to something which looks completely different, why stick with Windows? For the first time in decades, people saw other options as being equally valid choices and chose something else.
      • Tablets are better?

        Under what context? You choose a tool based on its suitability to a particular job. For business users and users who do more than play funny cat videos and do e-mail, a tablet is more of a doorstop rather than a show stopper.
      • I fail to see how a tablet is better than a PC.

        1) type with 2 hands, instead of holding it in one hand and touch typing with the other.
        2) compiling processing power in a tablet?!?!? are you freaking crazy?
        3) no fingerprints on my screen.

        even if you buy the new convertible tablets that click into a keyboard base, I still will NEVER [NEVAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!] give up my PC for stupid tablet.
    • Maybe...

      I predict that a fair number of people will continue to use Windows XP even after support ends. Probably the good majority will move on to something else (especially businesses,) but not all of them. Even today there are still a few die-hards out there running Windows 2000, NT and 98, and none of those OS's was as widely used for as long a stretch as XP.

      I doubt we'll see Windows XP really go away until the hardware that's running it begins to fail en masse, and/or no software vendors support it at all anymore.
      • Not everyone is connected nor wants to be

        Some people have never connected their PCs to the internet and with good reason.

        I know of businesses which just use XP to enter letters, invoices and print them.

        Those people will only change when the PC dies - and I don't blame them.
    • Maybe more will see the light and get rid of windows Munich. Enough of this stupid upgrading for nothing!
  • Microsoft is busy at the moment, please hold the line

    They are busy chasing mobile unicorns, but rest assured your call is important to them and they may (or may not) do something about it in the next release of Win IH8.1
  • Windows 8

    Windows 8 is a disaster on non-touch enabled devices, but I quite like it on touchscreen laptops and desktops with adjustable screens (that can be pulled down to act like a huge tablet).

    Once Microsoft re-instates the Start button on the desktop I'll even start planning my next computer/OS migration. One thing's for sure: my first windows 8 machine will have a touch screen.

    I strongly suspect that traditional desktop/laptop sales will reach a stable level once most Windows devices on the market include touch screens. Windows will never see the same predominance/dominance of the personal computing market it once enjoyed, but there are enough people out there who need more than what a tablet offers that Windows should still enjoy significant market share for some time to come (and allow it time to evolve to meet the new computing paradigms).
    • I don't agree...

      I have Windows 8 installed on my home PC's, none of which is touch enabled, and I find it to be useful with a keyboard and mouse just fine. All this wailing about how better your experience would be on a touch-enabled monitor *MAY* be valid with a laptop or tablet, but a desktop PC, where the monitor is often at an uncomfortable "reach range", is not the best place for a touch screen. I am, therefore, unlikely to buy a desktop with a touch screen for that reason.

      Sure, Microsoft "moved your cheese" with the Windows 8 Metro desktop, but I still fail to see how the new desktop is fundamentally different from the desktops of users of earlier versions of Windows, who place on the desktop shortcuts to their most frequently used applications. Like many users, I want my desktop to have the most useful program icons right in my face, so I don't have to navigate the Start Menu, which became bloated and unwieldy very quickly in earlier Windows versions with entries for installed programs that I don't use often.

      I can re-arrange my Windows 8 desktop to show me my favorite applications, in an appropriately-sized icon, in any order I want. I can move the less-often used program icons further right on the screen, or remove them altogether and use the 'all apps' display or Search when I want them.

      Is the interface perfect? No. I have a few suggestions myself, like making the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen wider to make it easier to navigate, but I'll wait to see if the Windows "Blue" update this summer makes things better. I'm betting it will.
    • Microsoft is delusional

      Touch is worse than useless on a PC. It's a tortuous, low-bandwidth, extremely low resolution input method that requires huge physical effort with poor ergonomics for bulk/or high precision input when compared to a mouse and keyboard.

      People don't use touch on their mobile devices because they love touch; they use touch because it isn't practical to use a better input method like a full-sized keyboard or mouse. Microsoft management has completely deluded themselves that touch is the wave of the future on PCs or that it will boost sagging PC sales. Touch screens add $200.00 to the cost of a PC, increasing the cost of a PC approximately 25%, and that's a huge increase for a feature most people don't want and won't use.
      Asok Smith
      • That's why I use bluetooth.

        I have a keyboard, mouse and monitor that can all connect to my Galaxy S3. When I stay at a hotel, I whip these out and have a system just as capable as my dell laptop. For what I use them for, a full size laptop is overkill and Windows whatever adds nothing to the game.
        • you could

          Or, you could just as well put one of those Android sticks in your pocket and do the same. That is, not waste your phone's batteries while stationary.
        • Re: That's why I use bluetooth

          You actually carry around a monitor, keyboard, and mouse on the road, for when you stop in at hotels? And you state a full size laptop is overkill, but you travel with the monitor?

          Get a laptop, your back will appreciate it!

        • Joking?

          If so, well done. I had a good laugh. Otherwise, WHY?
  • Windows 8 will be just fine.

    Once OEM's change their manufacturing processes to mass produce touch-screen devices, prices of touch-screen Windows 8 devices will drops. Once the price of these devices drop, Windows 8 will fly off the shelf.

    Why? Watch our future play with those devices at the store. Our future=our kids. Try to tell a 13 year old that they don't want that 20 something inch, All-In-One 10 finger multi-touch PC. Try to tell them what they really want is a Windows 7 or a Mac or a Linux device without touch.

    Teenagers and College students move personal technology forward. Remember, I wasn't your grandma who stood in line for the first iPhone. I was teenager or college student. From there, others learned from them about the iPhone and the rest is history. Windows 8 will be the same.
    Don't fear the future
    • I was there...

      Teenagers and college students were not the ones standing in line for the first iPhone. Having actually been there, I can tell you that the majority of people who were standing in line for the first iPhone were adult technology geeks. There were also a fair number of 30-something Apple fanbois who would buy anything with the Apple logo on it. Remember, that first iPhone was very expensive compared to current pricing. Teenagers and college students don't have a lot of disposable income. The early adopter technical nerds, like myself, are the ones who started that snowball rolling down the hill. If teenagers and college students actually dictated the direction of technology, we'd all be browsing this site on XBox consoles attached to a TV. We'd all have cameras mounted on our heads and be skateboarding to work every day. Only a teenager or college student would actually believe they're steering the future of technology. Their parents are the ones spending big money on technology. Technology follows the money.
      • All valid points

        However, I still believe that it is the younger crowd who is more interested in gadgets than your average adult over 30. With boys, it's in their nature. What boy doesn't dream of cars, planes, spaceships, etc.... Anything electronic they are into it. Adults? Not as much. It's usually the younger crowd that say's "Have you seen the new (gadget)".
        Don't fear the future