Windows 8 Reportedly to Blame for Worst PC Sales Drop in History

PC sales are slumping in a big way and there's plenty of blame to go around. Before get into that, let's have a look at how bad things really are. According to new data released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), global PC shipments totaled just 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013, down nearly 14 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012, and nearly twice as bad as IDC's previous forecast of a 7.7 percent decline. That represents the worst year-on-year contraction since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly almost two decades ago.

It's the same old story of tablets and smartphones continuing to eat away at traditional PC sales. Computer makers have tried to fight back by offering systems with touch panels and ultra-slim profiles, but price and component supply are both hamstringing their efforts. Even worse, it appears Windows 8 is having a negative impact on system sales.

Samsung ATIV

"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. "While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

As if all that weren't enough, IDC says restructuring and reorganizing efforts by Hewlett-Packard and Dell, two major players in the OEM market, only serve to magnify the slowed demand, while whitebox system builders further exacerbate the issue with their consolidation efforts.

"Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," said David Daoud, IDC Research Director, Personal Computing.

Lenovo PC

The one shining star during these dark times was Lenovo, which outpaced the market with double-digit year-on-year growth, nearly catching up to HP in the process. For now, Lenovo remains the second biggest OEM with a 15.3 percent share of the global PC market, just slightly behind HP, which sits on top with a 15.7 percent share, down percent compared to a year ago.