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PC growth slowing, and Windows 8 won't fix that soon, says IDC

Can Windows 8 save the traditional PC and spur growth again? Maybe -- but it doesn't look like that's going to happen this year, a market-research firm suggests.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
An Asus Taichi ultrabook in tablet mode. Will consumers flock to Windows 8 and ultrabooks?
An Asus Taichi ultrabook in tablet mode. Will consumers flock to Windows 8 and ultrabooks? CNET Asia

The traditional PC market is in dire need of some hot new products to drive growth. Too bad that's probably not going to happen soon, according to market researcher IDC.

The worldwide PC market has basically slowed to a crawl this year, IDC says in a report released today. It expects just 0.9 percent growth this year, the second consecutive year of growth below two percent.

While citing the usual macroeconomic culprits -- slowness in Asia and mature markets -- the report said consumers are "considering spending on other products like media tablets and smartphones" while waiting for Windows 8.

If, that is, consumers actually are waiting for Windows 8. There's no shortage of Windows 8 critics these days. And IDC had some words of caution too.

Windows 8 "faces some initial hurdles; chief of which is that buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms. The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market," wrote Jay Chou, an IDC analyst.

To be fair, he adds that Windows 8 coupled with new ultrabook designs could lead to a "positive turn of events next year."

IDC expects 367 million PCs will ship into the market this year, up just a fraction of a percent from 2011.