NEW YORK – Microsofts Windows 8 software appears to be driving buyers away from PCs and toward smartphones and tablets, research firm IDC said. Thats leading to the fastest drop in PC sales the firm has ever seen.
Global shipments of PCs fell 14 percent in the first three months this year, IDC said last week. Thats the sharpest plunge since the firm started tracking the industry in 1994.
The report comes after a year of bad news for the PC. Consumers, especially in wealthy countries like the U.S., are steering their dollars toward tablets and smartphones rather than upgrading their home PCs. Its the biggest challenge to the personal computer since the IBM PC was released in 1981.
In an attempt to keep the PC relevant, Microsoft released a radical new version of Windows on Oct. 26. Windows 8 has a completely new look and forces users to learn new ways to control their machines.
Unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only didnt provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market, IDC Vice President Bob ODonnell said.
The newest version of Windows is designed to work well with touch-sensitive screens, but the displays add to the cost of a PC. Together, the changes and higher prices have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices, ODonnell said.
Representatives of Microsoft Corp. were not immediately available for comment.
In its tally, IDC excludes tablets, even if they run PC-style software. It also excludes any device that has a detachable keyboard. With the release of Windows 8, PC makers have been reviving their experiments with tablet-laptop hybrids, some of which have detachable keyboards. Consumers are likely to have shifted some of their buying away from traditional laptops and toward these new devices.
Another research firm, Gartner Inc., counts any devices running PC-style software, including some tablets, as PCs. It reported an 11 percent decline in PC shipments in the quarter.