This week seems to be a hatefest towards Windows 8 and the PC. GigaOM has a post titled “The PC market is a horror show right now”, CBC reported that “PC sales plunge as Windows 8 flops”, and finally there is a post on The Motley Fool that chimes in “Microsoft’s Windows 8 has failed, now what?” The basis for much of the commentary comes from research firm IDC which suggests that Windows 8 is pushing customers away from buying PCs. While PC purchases may indeed be slowing, the PC is still alive, and Windows 8 hasn’t killed anything.
The PC isn’t dead
Tablets & smartphones compliment a desktop environment. It doesn’t replace it. Along with enterprise customers who continue to use PCs mostly on a Windows environment, power users continue to also use PCs. Upgrading your PC, to these users, generally does not mean purchasing a new system, it means upgrading obsolete components. Furthermore, individuals who use a computer to do anything more than watching videos, browsing websites, or sending quick emails, continue to utilize a PC for more advanced tasks. When designers, programmers, architects, musicians, videographers, and other creatives start turning to a tablet for their work, then we can say for certain that the PC market is in its deathbed.
Windows 8 adoption rate
The slower adoption rate for Windows 8 seems seems to invoke comments that Windows 8 has failed. It’s important to realize that comparing the adoption rate of Windows 7 and Windows 8 makes for a poor comparison. Upgrading from Microsoft Vista (or XP) to Windows 7 is one thing. Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is another. Lets also keep in mind that enterprise customers are still generally in the process of upgrading from XP to Windows 7. They won’t be moving to Windows 8 any time soon.
Windows 8 does not provide much increased value when compared to Windows 7. To the casual user, the Metro interface seems confusing and lacks in value. It also provides little value when the number of touchscreens available for a PC are relatively small. Furthermore, Windows 8 to the casual user creates change. We hate change.
The future of tablets & smartphones
Windows 8 seems to be the recognition by Microsoft that the future is in tablets & smartphones. Windows 8 provides a platform that can be used on tablets, smartphones, and PCs. Since the PC is still required by enterprise users, and power users, the traditional Windows environment still needs to exists. Since using any type of ‘advanced’ software requires the use of a PC, the Windows environment is still required. Windows 8 is the bridge between this new reality. Windows 8 also opens up a future of cross-platform beauty. An app that is developed on Windows 8 could be utilized on your PC, your tablet, and your smartphone.
The observation that PC sales is in decline is an obvious one. There simply isn’t a need to upgrade your PC every 2 years. In 1994, tablets and smartphones weren’t a competing factor for PC sales. These new devices are going to continue to increase in sales. The decline in PC sales though has nothing to do with Windows 8. Windows 8 hasn’t failed, and the PC isn’t dead.