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IDC expects some 'trial and error' with Windows 8

by Doug Drinkwater

March 21 2012

IDC, the market research firm, says that tablets are having an adverse effect on PC sales, and adds that the introduction of Windows 8 for tablets will not be without its problems.

The company reveals that worldwide PC shipments grew 1.8% year-on-year at the end of 2011, and expects the launch of Windows 8 and Ultrabooks to fuel this growth in 2012.

The firm says that vendors struggled for much for 2011, due to a struggling economy recovery and emerging computing devices, and adds that this general lack of interest was summed up by a lacklustre Christmas season.

Looking ahead, the group says that the PC market will enjoy pockets of growth, certainly in emerging markets, but warns that tablets are having an adverse effect on PC sales – even if the research firm does not believe tablets to be a direct substitute for a PC.

 “Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple's iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction," said Bob O'Donnell, vice president of clients and displays at IDC. "However, end user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound."

Interestingly, IDC says that it is looking forward to the introduction of Windows 8, but believes that there could be a period of adjustment, as Microsoft gets used to bridging the operating system across desktop and mobile devices.

"2012 and 2013 will bring significant challenges for Microsoft and the PC community," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst for IDC’s worldwide PC tracker. "The Wintel platform must evolve to accommodate user expectations of ubiquitous computing on a multitude of devices and physical settings. Windows 8 and Ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC, but its promise of meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error, thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term."

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