Windows 8 contends with Win 7, PC saturation, says IDC

The uptake of Windows 8 is hampered by a completely saturated U.S. PC market and corporate upgrades to Windows 7, says author of IDC study.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holds a Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hybrid PC. Problem is, the U.S. PC market is almost completely saturated, says IDC.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holds a Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hybrid PC. Problem is, the U.S. PC market is almost completely saturated, says IDC. Microsoft

A fully saturated PC market means upgrade cycles are slowing down, stymying consumer uptake of Windows 8, IDC's Bob O'Donnell told CNET in an interview.

What ails the U.S. PC market ails Windows 8 too. That is, saturation and slowing upgrade cycles.

"The U.S. market is pretty much 100 percent saturated. So it is 100 percent dependent on replacement [PCs]," said O'Donnell, a program vice president at IDC, in a telephone interview referencing a report -- which he co-authored -- on second-quarter PC shipments that was released Wednesday.

"If you extend the lifetimes of your devices, that means your replacement rate is going to have a huge impact on sales," he said.

Such as consumers who are not buying new PCs running Windows 8. They're waiting longer now because they're opting to buy a new tablet instead a new PC, O'Donnell said.

On the other hand, corporations in the U.S. have not only been seeing slower replacement cycles but are only now upgrading to Windows 7.

"Commercial [corporate] clients are telling us they're upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7."

O'Donnell continued. "And in the conversations I've had with Dell and HP, most of their commercial customers are buying Windows 7, not Windows 8."

But it's not all bad news. The replacement cycle may finally be stabilizing. "We had a 'correction,' let's call it, based on longer PC lifetimes. But that can now lead to a more stable, regular environment, albeit at a lower level than we had before."

One of the bright spots was Dell, which actually gained market share in the U.S. in the second quarter due to corporate customers upgrading from XP to Windows 7, O'Donnell said.

U.S. PC market: Dell was one of the few PC makers to gain share in the second quarter.  But a lot of that is upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7 -- not Windows 8, says IDC.
U.S. PC market: Dell was one of the few PC makers to gain share in the second quarter. But a lot of that is upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7 -- not Windows 8, says IDC.
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