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PC market decline coming to an end

The PC market decline has encouraged vendors to innovate in order to survive. With this and several other factors, the decline is set to see a marked slowdown.

The yearslong PC market decline may finally be over, thanks to increasing acceptance of Windows 10 and more innovation around 2-in-1s.

IT experts have debated the death of PCs for years now, as smartphones and tablets have emerged. But thanks to PC hardware and software improvements, such as faster processors, better battery life, and more lightweight and secure devices, the market is on the verge of a turnaround. The PC market will see 1.6% growth in 2018 and 2019, according to a July report from Gartner.

"Today, PCs are a lot better in terms of performance," said Matt Kosht, an IT director at a utility company in Alaska. "Even cheap PCs are better at business tasks."

The PC market declined 4.3% from the second quarter of 2016 to the same period this year, Gartner said. Growth in the mobile market could be to blame.

"Since the only device that people could buy six or seven years ago was PCs, that's all they purchased," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Now, we ... buy multiple devices."

But the shift from PCs to other devices is occurring mostly among consumers and not in business, Atwal said. Business users will need to upgrade to newer PCs with more power and efficiency, thereby slowing down and eventually reversing the market decline, he added.

"On the business side, most users still have a PC as a main computing device," he said. "Over the years, companies held onto their PCs, which is why there was a decline in shipments. But what we are seeing now is that they are trying to replace the PCs [with new ones]."  

Kosht agreed.

"I don't think PCs are going away, not by a long shot," he said.

Projected growth in worldwide PC market shipments

Windows 10 plays major role in PC uptick

On the business side, most users still have a PC as a main computing device.
Ranjit Atwalresearch director at Gartner

Microsoft has been successful with infusing the market with much-needed innovation in Windows 10. Although most organizations still use Windows 7, this phase is nearing an end, especially because Microsoft will no longer support that operating system after January 2020. When Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015, many organizations chose to stick with Windows 7 because 2020 was still a long time away. That is no longer the case.

The fact that Windows 10 offers newer hardware and improved security is another reason why the PC market decline will see a slowdown.

"Windows 10 came at the right time," Atwal said. "Organizations are ... focused on power, they are focused on mobility, they are focused on security, and a lot of those elements are incorporated in Windows 10. They can't stay with Windows 7 because it doesn't have that sort of productivity."

Ultramobiles contribute to PC market growth

Gartner's PC market data and projections included the Apple MacBook Air, Microsoft Surface Pro and 2-in-1 devices, such as Lenovo's Yoga tablets -- a category it refers to as "premium ultramobiles."

The innovation in 2-in-1s and the other premium ultramobiles has injected the overall PC market with new life. These devices allow for faster processing power and better hardware, despite their light weight, making them popular among both consumers and businesses.

Two-in-one devices and other premium ultramobiles allow employees to do everything that a traditional work PC does in a more user-friendly format, said Melanie Seekins, chair of the Credentialed Mobile Device Security Professionals organization.

"A Surface ... gives the best of both worlds," Seekins said. "It gives you everything you love or enjoy about Microsoft and adds the touch and feel of a regular tablet, so now you can write on the screen or pull out your keyboard if you wanted."

Next Steps

Discover how PC market decline has forced innovation

How Microsoft Surface is the top player in 2-in-1 devices

Why adopting Windows 10 is worth giving a thought

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows hardware, including laptop and notebook reviews

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How often does your organization buy PCs?
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"The decline may be finally over" is just wishful thinking.

Businesses are not upgrading yet - the latest figures gives Windows 10 usage just higher than XP (which I found hard to believe when I saw the numbers) and Windows 10 is still flat lining on the desktop PC according to netmarketshare.

If anything, the PC market will go more into decline with users holding on to Windows 7 and the technology that supports it until it is no longer a viable option.  New technology with Windows 10 will not be an attractive proposition.

I've already not purchased a new high end notebook because Windows 10 was installed and making sure I've got the hardware that supports Windows 7 for the next several years.

If only Microsoft had made an operating system that the majority of users wanted, instead of an operating system that Microsoft wanted to use as a marketing tool.


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RegUser77, my sentiments exactly.


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Well where I work we are now moving to Windows 10 which we find faster and more productive than Windows 7.  The majority of our applications (over 300) now support Windows 10 we see no reason to stop it being our main operating system.  We usually sweat our assets for as long as we can - but in reality you will find from the user base that it is counter productive as the older PC's become slower (due to the newer version of their apps).  Improved PC performance usually is accompanied by improved user satisfaction and performance.

I do not know why people like to bash Microsoft so much as they do listen to businesses that speak to them.  Not everything they have changed in the OS (or their Office Software) I agree with and I do feel many of them are purely there for the tablet market - but as a business we also need tablets (or 2 in 1's) for our mobile workers.   As long as you buy the right version of the OS you can have Windows 10 looking very similar to Windows 7 making it easier for them to adapt - and we have had very little negative feedback from our users (a lot of positive feedback).

One of the things you are guaranteed in IT is change - you either try to fight it or embrace it.   The OS is least of worries when it comes to change in my experience - the biggest worry being major applications who make changes that adversely affect the way you use their software and they know it is so difficult for you change supplier (when the software can cost £200K and 20% maintenance per annum).

Whilst I accept that for small businesses change may be something that they do not want as their PC works for years just as they want it, but larger ones should ensure their IT support are kept up to date with training and they plan changes, it is not something you are expected to do overnight.  If you embrace the changes you will benefit from them.

As if you are wondering where I work - in IT for Local Government.

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