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Windows 8 sees PC sales plummet as tablets replace laptops

PC sales have gone off a cliff as gadget fans turn to tablets instead -- and experts blame Windows 8.

PC sales have gone off a cliff as gadget fans turn to tablets instead -- and experts blame Windows 8.

New figures from industry beancounters IDC reveal that sales of PCs across the world have plummeted by 14 per cent so far this year -- the biggest decline since IDC's records began 19 years ago.

Shipments of PCs dropped to 76.3 million, the culmination of a year of falling sales. That despite the fact that a new version of Microsoft's Windows operating system usually gives PC and laptop sales a fillip.

"Unfortunately," IDC says, "it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only didn't provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market."

Ouch. Part of the problem is that by emphasising the touchscreen interface of Windows 8, IDC reckons Microsoft has put off consumers who don't want or think they can't afford touchscreen computers.

Just as importantly, the tablet and smart phone have killed off netbooks and low-cost laptops.

The leading PC maker, HP, saw sales plummet by a quarter compared to this time last year. Second place Lenovo managed to keep sales level by tapping into emerging markets, one of the few areas that isn't in decline. But that couldn't stop Dell, Asus and Apple's compter sales all falling. Acer sales plunged by nearly a third.

Poor sales have also had an effect on new products. Where companies usually refresh their product range roughly every three years, updated computers are set to appear only every five years or so.

It's a tough time for pricey technology: thrifty gadget fans are hanging on to phones longer, putting the squeeze on expensive devices, and we wouldn't be surprised if they're doing the same with computers too.

If you are in the market for a laptop, check out our handy-dandy guides to the best laptops for under £500, laptops for less than £1,000 and the best gaming laptops

Are you planning to update your computer, or is your current kit still doing the job? Can PC makers reverse the decline? And has your tablet or phone replaced your computer? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.