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back to article PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor)

IDC is forecasting that the technology channel will buy in around 34 million fewer PCs this year than last, and the bad news for anyone making a crust in that sector is that things aren't going to improve any time soon. There will be no let-up on any front, with desktops and portables predicted to decline in both the mature and …

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Anonymous Coward

Clasps cap to chest.

There will be a bit of twitching while the company XP boxes are replaced but the signs are not good.

Soon enough our kids are going to be asking what is that thing with all the letters and numbers on in the shed?

A keyboard son, a keyboard.

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Re: Clasps cap to chest.

Premonition from Back to the Future 2:

"You mean you have to use your hands?"

"That's like a baby's toy."

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Pint

Re: Clasps cap to chest.

I wonder what it will take for the "PC's not dead" denialists to finally concede the point?

Not that I have an objection to the desktop computing paradigm per se, I'm just overjoyed that its demise will take Intel and Microsoft with it. Once they're dead and buried, by all means bring back the desktop, just without Intel's juice-guzzling furnaces and Microsoft's dysfunctional monopolyware.

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Re: Clasps cap to chest.

You're reading far too much into it if you think a drop in sales of new PCs will make the slightest bit of difference to Microsoft or Intel.

A drop in sales of x86 machines in traditional form factors won't affect Microsoft or Intel very much at all - Microsoft make most of their money from Volume licensing and services, not from individual PC sales. Intel are powering the data-centers that everyone connect to on their iPads, and not to mention their new generations of CPUs are making their way into tablets.

No, the 'Wintel' world will be with us for quite some time yet!

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Gimp

Re: Clasps cap to chest.

Yes, but Microsoft can only make money on "volume licenses" if OEMs actually buy them, and the only reason OEMs would do that is if people buy PCs, which is less and less the case.

Both HP and Dell are in serious trouble, and most of what's left of the PC market seems to have been consolidated into just one Chinese vendor: Lenovo.The market has shrunk drastically, so either OEMs buy a much lower volume of licenses, squeezing Microsoft out of the market, or Microsoft forces those OEMs to buy licenses for PCs they'll never sell, squeezing them out of the market. And as you noted, without OEMs, Microsoft basically has no customers.

Either way, both Microsoft's and Intel's market will eventually disappear. It's already fading rapidly.

If PC sales keep plummeting, I don't see any other possibility, unless the government decides its pet monopolists are Too American to Fail, and bails them out with taxpayers' money, but even that is futile in the long run. The people have spoken: they just don't want PCs any more, and they certainly don't want that joke called Tiles® (or whatever Microsoft is calling it this week), so any measures designed to force them to buy something they don't want is not only pointless but actually sinister.

Expecting this to all just blow over is extremely naive. It's not going to get better, it's going to get worse, unless the PC industry can produce some earth-shattering innovation that magically draws back all its lost customers, which I really can't see happening any time soon. Those former customers already have the one and only "innovation" they really care about: it's sitting in their pocket, it uses neither Intel's processors nor Microsoft's operating systems, and it probably never will.

Game over.

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And for 2015 I predict

Linux on the desktop will be the OS of choice for consumers replacing aging PC's, though it will be called ChromeOS, SteamOS, Sailfish or whatever, well I can't be anymore wrong than IDC and the likes and you just never know :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And for 2015 I predict

Yeah, customers are beating down the doors for that!

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Linux

Re: And for 2015 I predict

This will be like HTPCs and servers. The rubes will flee for tablets leaving only the serious power users with PCs. That will cause a mass exodus of Windows users. Linux will gain more prominence in the PC market that remains.

You could call it the Disraeli Effect.

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Re: Disraeli effect?

You could also say William Pitt the Elder was a master of kung-fu or that Churchill was a cross-dressing crochet-fiend. Either would be just as relevant, and just as correct

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Facepalm

How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

I wonder how many more sales of desktop PCs there would be if M$ decided to "allow" buyers to have a simple, reasonably seamless replacement of XP by Win 7, rather than trying to ram Windows 8 down their unwilling throats?

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

Consumers had 3 years of the option to replace XP with Win7. The problem isn't Windows 8. It's the fact that 32 years down the road, the PC and its spawn are still used for the same basic tasks as when they started.

Once the adoption phase was over, growth was driven primarily by the need for new hardware to support the needs of cutting-edge software. But even with the features and bloat of decades of software development, the hardware has reached the point where a 5-year-old machine is perfectly capable of performing the tasks consumers use PCs for.

Tablets are on the rise because they can perform 99% of those same tasks, can be had for as little as 1/3 the price, and have a "cool" factor.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

I think that modern PCs are used for more than those from 1981.

Remember back then. No Internet (including facebook, twitter et. al.) no common graphics standard (and nothing capable of displaying a photograph), no digital cameras, connectivity to the outside world by modem and BBS if you were really advanced, no email, no audio hardware, no writable optical drives to rip/write CDs, no DVDs at all, no video, no mice. Monochrome dot matrix printers if you could afford $/£1000 otherwise no hardcopy.

If you are really talking 1981, then no hard disks. Everything from 5.25" 360KB floppy disks!

No porn! (at least none that was interesting - remembering animated ASCII art of a flasher that I remember doing the rounds by sneakernet).

And, and and. A PC would set you back $/£2500 (I'm actually looking at an IBM PC advert from 1982 in an old magazine at the moment), which was more than most people paid for their cars!

OK, you still had people writing letters and doing basic spreadsheet and simple database, and you did have text and basic block graphics games but that is about all that is common between then and now.

But now, there is very little that you can think of that a PC made in the last 5 years or so cannot do. Even new technologies such as 3D printing is well within the capabillities (with a suitable printer of course) of a modern PC.

What is happening is that the common sub-set of technologies that Jane and Joe Public need can now be done from a device that is more like a tablet than a computer. Only nerds like you and I use some of the other stuff.

I mean, really. A Chromebook or a tablet or even a modern phone with the option of an external keyboard and connectivity to a telly will do all of the media consumption and social media that your average non-technical user will ever need.

I can see nothing that will prevent the decline of the PC into the technical niche that it emerged from. It'll never disappear completely, but will become to a tablet as a tape recorder is to an MP3 player.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

Not sure about waiting for it to be retired, but I've just taken advantage of the chance to buy a W7 refurbished PC because it comes with W7Pro and not W8, so that's one sale lost to them. Wish I could switch to Linux on the desktop, but although I earn my living mostly from Linux these days, my customers systems are only accessible via Windows and the stuff they pay me for requires actual office, even if just in case something is different. I can't see why any small business would want to buy a new PC in the current market, you can get a familiar product for a fraction of the cost of suffering an unfamiliar one.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

Consumers had 3 years of the option to replace XP with Win7.

True, but replacement was exactly it, wipe the system, reinstall, and pay Microsoft a substantial fee for the privilege. Previous "upgrades" were the same, of course, but there was clearly a good reason to move from 95->98->XP. For most people there is no good reason to move beyond XP, it's tolerably stable (I haven't had a BSOD in years, in fact I have them more often on my W7 laptop), and has more than adequate functionality and performance for general use.

If I could move to W7 by a true in-place upgrade, for a reasonable price, I probably would. As it stands, I'll probably not do that until I'm ready to buy a new PC, and I don't see any immediate need for that.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

"Consumers had 3 years of the option to replace XP with Win7."

If you were early enough, the privilege was pretty cheap. I preordered a copy of 7 Home Premium and it only set me back $49. Although I use Xubuntu now, I still have the disc; I could go back if need be. And since 7 offered enhanced graphics and sound support for newer systems (vs. XP), not to mention the 64-bit support (spotty on XP, only really hit mainstream with Vista), there was at least some impetus to jump from XP, especially if the price was low enough (which as I said, it was).

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

Or even a Windows XP x64 R2 version, licenced and paid for on an annual subscription (£25/year/seat) basis. Some of us consider even Windows 7 a downgrade from XP x64.

Microsoft has shown zero interest in my desires - and until they do, I have no intention of showing any interest in theirs. The PC industry's sales tanked pretty much as soon as MS EOL'ed XP, which says everything that needs to be said, as far as I'm concerned.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

Come 1982, the Commodore 64 arrived on the scene, with common graphics and sound capabilities across all 30 million ever sold - and anyone who was serious about anything more than text didn't give the PC a second glance until VGA and the likes of Chris Roberts' Wing Commander came along.

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Linux

Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

> I think that modern PCs are used for more than those from 1981.

Fine. Then move the goalpost to 2003 or even 2001.

I have Atom gear that's comparable to my laptop from 2001 but with a better GPU. This thing is a cheap trailing edge product but still runs circles around any ARM device when it comes to either pure computation or media decoding.

I have 3 generations of ARM streamer that have yet to catch up to that crufty old stuff. That's 3 cycles of "need to buy something new" with no end in sight really. Meanwhile the sad little Atoms chug along in the corner picking up the slack for the ARM devices.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

I think that modern PCs are used for more than those from 1981.

I think you missed my point. Sure, there have been enhancements to the specific methods available (internet, 3D, etc.) but that falls mostly under my statement:

Once the adoption phase was over, growth was driven primarily by the need for new hardware to support the needs of cutting-edge software.

That doesn't change the fact that the PC's job, calculation and communication, hasn't changed; the only thing that's changed is how (and how well) it does it.

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It's not that there are no new ideas under the sun

The problem is that Microsoft doesn't own the sun. Basically just an agreement with the post I'm replying to, but I would like to dig a bit deeper into the fundamental anti-innovation company that Microsoft has become. There are lots of new things that could be done with PCs, and some of them that even call for legitimate improvements in the OS, but unless Microsoft sees the SAFE profits, they are going to continue doing everything they can to stifle all significant innovation.

The dynamics are kind of simple. There are only a few basic ways to get to the top. Being lucky is the most common, though I'm willing to say that Microsoft may have simply had good timing. Extremely hard work is a possibility, but actually one of the least likely paths unless combined with some luck and good timing.

However, once a company does get to the top, by any path, the situation changes. There are only three basic options. One, continue struggling harder than ever to remain #1. Two, relax and slump down in the ratings. Three, do everything you can to prevent anyone else from getting close to you. These days that mostly means bribing politicians to make laws that perpetuate your monopoly position, where the monopoly is more or less disguised.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

Steve, I respectfully disagree.

If you had said 2001 or 2002, the introduction of XP, I would tend to agree.

When the PC was introduced in 1981/1982, they were very clearly business only devices. Even in the US they were too expensive for a home purchase unless driven by a specific need, and this was even more the case outside of the US where a basic PC at introduction equated to about half of my yearly salary as it was at the time.

I would say that the whole area of media consumption is completely new from that time. You could not eve use a PC (and here I am talking about an IBM compatible PC) to play music off any domestic media available at the time, and that is the easiest media (unless you count books, which wern't distributed to be read on PCs).

The home market was better served in the US by Apple, Commodore and Atari kit, and by the plethora of UK manufacturers including Acorn, Sinclair etc in the UK, and Japanese companies for the rest of the world in the early '80s, and I would say that you cannot claim that a modern PC has anything more than a passing relationship to any of these devices.

It took until the mid '90s for the PC to become an attractive home purchase. I bought my first IBM compatible at that time (I was a committed BBC Micro user), for about £1000, and it came with a 100MHz Pentium, 16GB of memory, a 1.2GB hard disk, a CD Reader, an ATI Mach64 display adapter with 14" monitor providing 256 colour 800x600 resolution SVGA display, and a sound-blaster compatible sound card, running Windows 95 (and Linux - although this was a real effort getting it to work). This could be counted as a 'multimedia PC', and whilst you could listen to a CD, you would not (and probably could not) watch a film on it with any degree of enjoyment.

And to bring it back to the point, the majority of modern PCs in the home are used as media consumption and social media devices, which a tablet, chromebook or convertable will do as well or better than a PC. PCs (especially desktop PCs) will become niche devices for people who have a need for more storage or processing power than a low-power device can provide.

In business, PCs are mostly an alternative to form-filling, paperwork and performing data-lookups, and I suspect we will see PCs being displaced by thin clients based around the same technologies as a tablet-with-a-keyboard or small laptop (yes, really this time) because of the efficiencies in the administration and cost savings of large numbers of such devices.

A thin client deployed on top of Android on an Arm device, built into the screen (effectively a tablet), with a keyboard and pointing device, and limited amounts of local storage, connected to a server estate using a remote desktop technology or cloud service will be a very desireable device for many businesses, and probably cheaper than an equivalent environment built around desktop PCs. Deploy a secured WiFi, and you don't even need to cable the desks for data!

I can see devices like this retailing for around £100 per desk in volume, plus some extra for the backend services, in the near future. All we need are the applications, and I'm pretty sure that OpenStack or Azure, deployed either as a local or remote cloud will get sufficuent traction for serious software to appear and displace PC software.

It's all a bit bleak for the PC market, quite honestly.

Bloody hell. I've just argued myself into thinking seriously about SaaS cloud services! Maybe it's not all BS!

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

Don't know which Atom and which ARM you're talking about but the ARM in my iPad Air is anything but a slouch and I am pretty sure this type of power will be available to anyone for less than $200 before 2014 is nigh.

Atom on the other hand even with the right power/watt envelop and the advantage of legacy support, which is less and less relevant, will still be sold by Intel and therefore will still come at a cost.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

Oops. For the memory in my first PC, read 16MB, not 16GB!

Wow. How much would that have cost in 1996!

10 minutes is obviously not long enough to spot such errors.

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Joke

Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"? @Steve Knox

>Wow. How much would that have cost in 1996!

And that is before you take account of the size (both physical dimensions and storage capabilities) of available memory strips...

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Re: It's not that there are no new ideas under the sun

I wonder what lots of new things could be done with a pc that you have thought of that they haven't? I really wonder what innovations there are that you speak of? You are full of bullshit. The tablet computing device came from Microsoft 10 years before the iPad, and we have the Kinect, why would they stifle innovation? They have a huge investment in their software, do BMW also stifle innovation by making great cars too? For any one flaw you point out in windows i could find at least 10 in some other piece of software. The Microsoft ate my homework argument is dead buddy, you sound sad.

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Re: modern PCs are used for more than those from 1981.

Except that's not the right comparison. The correct comparison is the one between the PC at the time the tablet came out an now. On that scale, there's not much difference.

The reason tablets are popular in the consumer market is they are light, portable, and really, really cheap. We've seen repeatedly that cheap beats better so long as it is good enough.

The PC won't die. For what it does it beats a tablet hands down. But as earlier posters noted, the market is now mature. We (mostly) aren't seeing the need for increased horsepower like we did in the breakout phase. We've reached the IBM plateau for computational power, just a couple decades later than they expected.* So we are now in the replacement market. You will see the rate of purchase trailing off until equilibrium is reached.

*I'll note that in many ways the "Y2K bug" delayed recognition of this in the market. Instead of *fixing* the issues properly, companies simply bought new hardware. I thought we were starting to see this trend right before the panic started. And in the rush, MS and others baked new bugs into the system that took a few years to work out.

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@ Charles 9

You've got a decent synopsis except like everybody else you've danced neatly around the heart of the problem:

Vista was the upgrade out of XP. And just like they are doing with Windows 8, they weren't willing to admit they screwed the pooch and provide a usable path out.

Yes, XP doesn't migrate to Win7 because the code base is different. But the same was true with the XP-Vista path. What they needed to do was rework the XP-Vista tool to allow XP-Win7. What's really ironic is they are repeating the mistake with Win8 to Win8.1, which should NOT have been an issue.

Even at that, MS have a serious issue they've been unwilling to confront. Businesses and consumers want a stable platform that just works. They don't want to redo their entire software inventory every 3 years. Their cars last 5 to 10+ years, they expect their software to as well. They want incremental updates, and they expect their data to move seamlessly from one system to the next. They'd like it if their programs moved seamlessly as well, but they are more willing to tolerate issues there.

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Re: How many are waiting for Windows 8 to be "retired"?

That's just obvious nonsense. I don't know why this post has been up-voted 22 times (as of now).

If Windows 8 is responsible then why have Apple desktops and laptops seen 3 consecutive quarters (-5%, -3% and -18%) of sales decline?

I suppose Windows 8 is responsible for Apple desktop sales decline in your world, hmmm?

The WHOLE desktop and laptop industry is suffering a contraction, not just the Windows sector.

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My counter prediction

By 2017 (maybe a little longer, certainly by 2020 IMHO), consoles as we know them will have crashed and burned.

Consumers will become sick and tired of game pricing, being told what they can and cannot do on their consoles (eg removal of features available on previous generations such as DLNA), being forced to pay a monthly subscription to play online, and the lack of backwards compatibility.

This may not totally revive the fortunes of the PC market, but it will help considerably. Traditional PC makers such as Dell may not see much of a resurgence, but makers of SteamOS consoles (Which are just PCs in SFF cases) will, as obviously will the likes of nVidia, AMD and Intel.

Yes, PC hardware is more expensive (Due to subsidies on consoles), but over the life of the product will end up cheaper due to the lower cost of games, and not having to shell out a monthly fee to play online. With an expected generation life of 10 years, to play online for that period would cost you about £400 with XBOne for example. Factor that in and suddenly the TCO of a Steam box is way, way lower.

As time goes by, this will become more and more true until the point where PC hardware will have reduced in price whilst gaining in power to the point that building a superior specced PC/SteamBox will be cheaper than buying a console. In fact, if you factor in a 10 year lifespan, plus the cost of playing online for that time with a console, it is already cheaper to buy a PC than an XBone (£429 for console, plus £400 for 10 years subscription) to play the latest games online. Comparisons are already showing up on youtube of BF4 gameplay on a $500 PC compared to a next-gen console, and the PC more than holds its own.

Death of the PC? Nope, this is the beginning. Death of Windows maybe - but not PC hardware.

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Re: My counter prediction

"Yes, PC hardware is more expensive (Due to subsidies on consoles), but over the life of the product will end up cheaper due to the lower cost of games, and not having to shell out a monthly fee to play online. With an expected generation life of 10 years, to play online for that period would cost you about £400 with XBOne for example. Factor that in and suddenly the TCO of a Steam box is way, way lower."

Most of the current-gen consoles AREN'T subsidized. They're actually selling at a small but actual profit because of some vertical integration, bulk deals, and the fact that PC hardware is a lot more commoditized than before. Those hard drives are a bit small compared to the multi-TB jobbers out now, the GPUs aren't exactly cutting-edge. About the only thing close to being subsidized is the AMD CPU, but I suspect some things missing or undercut may explain the lowball. Then there's the matter of brand loyalty and internal development projects. Sony and Microsoft won't be letting their signature enterprises go anytime soon.

As for paying for online, consider the "ten cents" scenario. Sometimes, people just won't see a value in something UNLESS they're paying for it. To them, free stuff is f-d up stuff and they wouldn't touch it with a 39 1/2' pole. As for cheaper prices, that only applies to games that have been out for some time. Steam games are rarely that way at initial release, plus there are those who don't want to waste their download allowances and would sooner give up gaming than give up DISCs. That's something both Microsoft and Sony learned quickly, which is why their consoles STILL have optical drives (IN SPITE of intentions to do otherwise).

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Only to be expected....

...but not for the reason a lot of people are thinking.

It's not that tablets and BYOD etc. is reducing the need for PCs (though admittedly that does play some role).

It's simply that in the old days (by old days I mean a period between 5 and 15 years ago) computer software was leaping ahead of the software in such a way that when a new Office package or new OS came out having newer hardware was more necessity.

It's really the advent of true dual core CPUs that caused this. With Intel Core 2 and more so the Core i-series CPU load has been less of a problem even a first generation i3 or i5 will happily handle most tasks in Windows XP through to Windows 8 without issue.

My main desktop machine is couple of years old first generation i3, with a fair chunk of RAM, and I can't see a desperate need to change it for a couple more years yet.

For admin/clerical type staff this even more the case, Windows 7 or 8 with Office 2007 - 2013 are absolutely no trouble.

Sales are more likely to come in bursts, as far as corporate purchases go, during the next 5 - 10 years. Mainly machines being replaced as they go out of warranty more than because they are under spec.

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Re: Only to be expected....

"Sales are more likely to come in bursts, as far as corporate purchases go, during the next 5 - 10 years. Mainly machines being replaced as they go out of warranty more than because they are under spec."

And even that's iffy if the math supports extended service plans vs. replacements.

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Re: Only to be expected....

An additional reason for PC sales downturn, at least here in the UK. Massive cutbacks and redundancies in local councils.

In many cases I suspect, and a few cases I personally know of, there are more seats than bums. There are brand new/nearly new PCs stacked up, unused, bought during the last year or threes Govt. Frameworks when staffing levels were significantly higher than today.

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Lets try to look at the facts

For years we had performance improvments that made 'upgrading' worth it. Extra Ram, 64bit CPU's, bigger HDD's etc etc.

Nowadays there is nothing 'vital' about current PC's to make me want to upgrade (As in buy a new one) as my current PC will do everything I care to throw at it.

Then there is the huge thorn in the side of the PC and that is the Tablet. For many formar (in the not too distant future) PC users these devices are all they need for browsing, shopping and the odd email. Why do they need a PC? They don't.

Add these two things together and the death of the PC as we know it is looming.

Actually, the things that Apple have been doing (Mac Pro apart) like making it impossible to upgrade kinda makes sense with the commodization of this section of the Electronics industry. Most average punters can't be half arsed to upgrade anything themselves.All they want is something that works when the switch it on.

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Re: Lets try to look at the facts

Not only that: The computer industry is actively trying its best to make the PC irrelevant as a productivity platform, by loading it down with performance-sapping eye candy, stupid design decisions and the removal of customer choice.

I've put a stake in the ground, bought spanking-new hardware - and intend to run Windows XP x64, Office 2003 and Adobe CS6 on it, for as long as I can.

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Unhappy

Re: Lets try to look at the facts

Oilver. Agreed. IMHO, whether Windows or some linux spin off, most UI designers have swallowed some TIKFAM like coolaid which makes it harder to just do stuff. The re-emergence of the simpler traditional desktops in Linux is a natural reaction to what Gnome/KDE have become. I am refusing to upgrade Debian because of this, altho not sure how much longer I can hold out. Hardware breaks eventually.

Loss of USB connection to tablets since Honeycomb is driving me crazy. Why does MTP need to exist ? Lock down. Locking down the hardware is also irritating the geek class. One should not need workarounds to do modifications. As an example of sane development, the auto industry is developing standard APIs for vehicle management systems, standard voltages for electric vehicles, standard plugs for intravehicle device comms that can be used by any manufacturer. This is the exact opposite of the IT industry.

Most tablets are a b*std to use for real general work as the screens are unresponsive or react to dust settling. Maybe my fingers have insufficient fast food fat on them. I do not believe PCs will go away until voice control and some understanding that works in a noisy environment is cheap and standard. Then tablets will seriously dent PC in commercial document pounding. In short Siri descendants may be The Future. Intels work in power efficiency makes the required processing power and endurance plausable. ARM seems to be filling the role AMD did in the X64 development.

In the meantime, I suggest tablets are used as comms devices as the current unsociability trends mean people don't want to associate with people, just a remote analogue. The performance gains and screen resolution mean they can do much of what needed a PC. Then again, the possible collapse of world financial systems when the greenback inflates into toilet paper may make all of this discussion irrelevant.

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Re: Lets try to look at the facts

Actually, Android adopted MTP because you didn't have to unmount the storage on the host to use it (USB requires this in UMS), and since many Android apps expect the storage to be there, it presented crash risks.

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Re: Lets try to look at the facts @Denarius

I suggest that you take your Android tablet, attach a OTG USB cable to a small USB hub, and plug a proper keyboard and mouse in.

Android works fine like this, without the need to touch the screen at all. I really find that for desk related activities this improves the usability of the tablet.

The only thing it is missing for general use is applications-in-windows (although I know lots and lots of PC users who juat maximise the current application they are using and don't really need windows) and I can see the definite abillity to use a tablet-like device with some cloud services displacing PCs on desks.

If you have a modern Android phone, try adding proper display as well, and see whether you could conceive of using your phone as your only computing device!

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Re: Lets try to look at the facts @Denarius

"I suggest that you take your Android tablet, attach a OTG USB cable to a small USB hub, and plug a proper keyboard and mouse in."

But that presents a problem of its own. Under almost all circumstances, using USB OTG prevents you from charging the device (as they both need the same port). Not to mention attaching an OTG device usually means more power draw (Yes, you propose a self-powered hub, but that's exception to the rule).

Also, the size of the tablet can have an effect on the practicality of the idea. A 10-incher, OK, but a 7-incher can be a bit small for the job, especially if it's a cheapo tab with only a 480x800 resolution.

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lack of reasons to replace an older system

manufacturers - unite. All you need to do is study many a past case of planned obsolescence. Study and apply :(

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Linux

So

"forecast to drop from 349.4 million last year to 314.2 million this year, and to 305.1 million by 2017". If that is true, I would suppose there is a lesser demand for new ones, so where is the problem. Any similar headaches regarding horses, cheese or shoes. I will probably get a new "PC" next year, but that one will most likely be a second hand one much because, money, and the fact I have not seen any advance at all in the new hardware sold to day, in fact I have a feeling it's getting less and less reliable. Poor bastards, what a problem.

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Meh

How are the stats collected?

Businesses are using virtual hosts now.

Enthusiasts are building them for gaming etc.

Are these use-cases collated?

Still PCs with OS'.

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Hard for hardware manufacturers - not so for the rest of us

Sure, like cars, the replacement cycle is getting longer. Also like cars, there's no longer status value in a PC, possibly the opposite bar gaming rigs. And indeed PCs are "competing" with more devices. Further, a senior bloke at work has tried to switch to tablet working.

However, for some things a tappy keyboard is a necessary thing. I'd like to see my kids complete their projects on a tablet. Also, though it chews time, Candycrush and iPlayer is not killing the PC. And for the tablet bloke, I giggle every time his iPad falls over in a meeting, And his presentations are even more sh*t than the standard ppt stuff.

As it happens, amongst other things we run a 10-year old XP laptop that the wifey prefers because of the proper (not wide) 15" screen and 1440x900 res. Stripping everything has made it boot fast. The much newer Windows 7 (widescreen) laptop reluctantly does Skype duties only.

I don't love M$, but the PC death is over-rated. At least in my western eyes.

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Linux

Re: Hard for hardware manufacturers - not so for the rest of us

It's just bubble economics mentality. We've reached the point where no one is satisfied unless we are in some kind of bubble. All corporate growth has to be constant and unsustainable or people think we are in some kind of recession.

Anything that isn't explosive growth is seen as a tragedy.

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Changing user habits

Are we talking about the business or home sectors here, or both?

If the latter then the desktop PC (I'm including Macs) has surely reached saturation? Ok there will always be a small percentage of new sales due to new adopters and replacements for tired hardware but generally everyone that wanted a PC back in the crazy golden Gateway 2000 days already has a PC? We're comparing a sudden upsurge in sales back in the day with what is probably a more realistic sales figure today where it's all just ticking over.

As home users realise they no longer actually need a desktop PC sitting on that £10 IKEA desk under the stairs or even the Dell laptop with the wobbly LCD lid, they will be satisfied with consuming content on smartphones and tablets which is really what they should have had from the start - we were just waiting for Steve Jobs to invent both device forms (joke).

Is the PC (and laptop) market dead? No of course not. I wouldn't bother tippety-tappeting comments like this on a touch device. But will sales ever skyrocket to a point where Alan Sugar tries to combine a PC with a Sega Megadrive? Unlikely.

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Re: Changing user habits

Also changing manufacturing habits...

As many have pointed out, a well spec'ed 5~6 year old PC is still highly usable with today's software and broadband services. And given the spec's of many smartphones and tablets, many would be happy with a 10 year old system.

Therefore with a rapidly maturing PC market, we can expect manufacturers to follow others and start to focus on build quality. We are starting to see this with (some) printers where HP and Lexmark for example bundle free service and support for 3~5 years. So I would expect companies such as IBM/Lenovo to do similar with PC's.

This longer lived hardware platform changes some of the dynamics of the PC software market. In some ways it is odd that MS haven't ensured that Windows 8 could run on a P4 and fully support existing XP applications, thus making the upgrade relatively trivial.

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Sick of hearing that the PC is declining

Sales of new PCs may be declining but this in no way means there's a decline in their USE.

Computers are an expensive asset. Businesses buy them as rarely as possible, and as they last longer now, in terms of productivity, then they did 10 years ago businesses buy them less often.

A rise in sales of tablets is just co-incidental and as far as I can tell as separate as a rise in sales of smartphones. If tablets didn't exist, PC sales would still have slowed.

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But it is. Because people never really did need a PC most of the time, but when it was all they could get, it's what they had.

Now, most people can do what they want on something other than a PC, be it tablet, smartphone or something-pad. And good for them. Many, many people do not spend their days and evening on a PC, they have other centers of interest and their smartphone is enough for them in a pinch.

The PC will stay - you don't work on a tablet, you read mail, eventually documents (PDF or Word) and you consult the company intranet, but you don't create data on a tablet (not on the long term anyways) - but it will slowly revert to a more discreet role of productivity in the business area, and hardcore gaming in the personal area.

All the rest can be handled by a handheld something or other.

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I don't know a single person who has replaced their home PC/Laptop with only a tablet or smartphone. Not a single one.

I fear that lots of people in the IT industry misunderstand how "ordinary" people use their computers. A tablet or smartphone is fine for quick snippets of information, but people don't want to sit there and do anything more than 5 minutes of stuff on it in my experience (well, unless its playing a game or watching a show). After that point, they find themselves realising its easier and quicker to use a PC for it - even as a 'consumption' device. Which is why I provide just as much advice on which new PC to buy as I did 10 years ago, just that now I also advise on tablet devices and smartphones too.

This is based on my experience with around 2500 users over the last 2 years - none of which are what I'd call "IT people".

In fact, I've seen a form of technological regression with users - all the changes going on, all the new devices, new interfaces, new buttons etc... are scaring a not insignificant portion of users who had become comfortable with IT, so now require a lot more handholding than they did before.

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