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Microsoft says slate sales to trump desktops in 2013

Company's vice president of Windows Web Services says tablet sales will outpace sales of desktops next year. But will they?

So, how many desktops will be sold next year?
So, how many desktops will be sold next year?

Microsoft seemingly believes tablet sales will outpace sales of desktops next year. But that might not actually be the case.

Speaking today at the TechEd Europe conference in Amsterdam, Antoine LeBlond, Microsoft's vice president of Windows Web Services, said that "next year, tablets will outsell desktop PCs," according to PC Pro, which was in attendance at the event. LeBlond reportedly didn't provide the margin of victory tablets should score next year, but he did say that "touch" functionality will dramatically change the PC market "just like the mouse did."

It's no secret that desktops and tablets are on two different paths. Consumers are going mobile, and they're increasingly buying products that help them do more when they're on the road. That's precisely why laptops outsell desktops, and why there's a strong possibility that eventually, tablets will outsell desktops. But will it be 2013?

Earlier this month, research firm IDC released two separate forecasts on tablet shipments and desktop shipments. The first, which centered on tablets, revealed that the research firm had revised upward its 2013 forecast on tablet shipments from 137.4 million units to 142.8 million units.

Just a few days later, IDC offered up its shipment forecast on desktops, saying they should hit 161.5 million units worldwide next year.

Now, it's important to point out that LeBlond specifically said "sales" during his presentation, and IDC's figures are based on shipments. To further complicate matters, some companies categorize sales as units sold into the retail channel but not actually sold to consumers. Others count sales to consumers. Simply put, getting actual sales figures isn't always easy.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment on LeBlond's statement. We will update this story when we have more information.