Can Windows 8 save the PC?

Computer sales are sagging, but a report claims the October release of the new operating system will reinvigorate the market.

By Mar 22, 2012 12:58PM

Image: Woman with laptop (© Corbis)These days, it's nearly impossible to ignore Apple (AAPL) and its sleek and sexy gadgets. But PC makers are hoping that Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 will revive what has become a lethargic market. 

According to Bloomberg, the "reimagined" Windows OS will go on sale in October, along with a splashy new cast of ultrabooks and other razor-thin computers (some of which will have touchscreens equipped to take full advantage of Windows 8 swipe-based interface). 

The debut couldn't come any sooner, IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell said in a recent report. "Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple's iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction." PC shipments managed only 1.8% year-to-year growth in 2011, and 2012 isn't looking much better with a projected 5%. 

But will releasing Windows 8 right before the holidays change the picture? 

Probably not this year: "Personally, I like Windows 8," says Joe Wilcox at BetaNews. But "pardon my skepticism": Microsoft's new operating system still has a lot to prove. If Windows 8 and ultrabooks are tag-teaming to take down Apple, the PC companies will have to release "compelling, and, more importantly, affordable" products to even come close. "Can Windows 8 save Christmas for Microsoft and its partners? I answer 'No' for holiday 2012. Perhaps 'Yes' for holiday 2013."

A Christmas launch is too late: "I'm kind of surprised that Microsoft wouldn't launch the operating system sooner," says Tom Cheredar at VentureBeat. The company is already "well behind both Google's (GOOG) Android and iOS when it comes to device adoption," and with the current PC market "depressed" as it is, Microsoft is losing ground with every passing moment. Apple already sold millions of the new iPads in the device's first few days. "I'm guessing that it'll take quite a bit longer for as many Windows 8 devices to sell." 

The PC market is doomed, anyway: If ultrabooks and Windows 8 are supposed to save the PC industry, says Chris Nerney at IT World, "I don't buy it." The new Microsoft OS is "being released into an entirely different world than its predecessor (Windows 7) three years ago." The future is all about mobile, and that isn't going to change. "Can Windows 8 really kick-start shipments of a product line (the PC) whose era seems to be coming to an end?" Not a chance.

(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

More from The Week


No, Windows 8 is not relevant today.  Windows 8 Metro doesn't interface with anything Windows based that we are using now.  But, I believe Microsoft has a plan that will make Windows 8 very relevant.  Starting with the release of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 tablets, which will be about the same time Windows 8 will be released, than the Metro UI is common between PCs, Windows Phones and Windows 8 tablets.  Windows 8’s Metro UI will be very desirable on your PC to share the same data on your Windows 8 tablet or your Windows Phone 8 smart phone. 

Mar 22, 2012 10:20PM

 "Can Windows 8 really kick-start shipments of a product line (the PC) whose era seems to be coming to an end?  Not a chance."


Wow, PC's still out sell tablets 4 to 1 and smartphone's will replaced featured phones but not PCs. I'd love to have a notebook with a detachable screen so I could use it for browsing and reading. That and more will be available latter this year from Dell, HP. Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and others using Windows 8.



Mar 22, 2012 5:54PM
The PC is not going away.  Mobile devices for most are companions to the PCs not replacements.   Maybe we won't need as many anymore, but there are too many power users who will probably never get rid of their PCs anytime soon.
Mar 22, 2012 8:52PM

Don't forget Kinect. Windows 8 will support html5 apps. So it's logical to think that with just html5, one can leverage the power of a phone, tablet, PC, and Kinect, and build devices to do anything aroudn the house, office or car.


Did I mention - just knowing html5?


Imagine customize windows experince with just html5. All the Android fanboys who talk about (but don't actually) customize thier Linux OS...


A main stream OS, on all 4 screens, with interaction within the reach of html.

Mar 22, 2012 5:53PM
The PC is not going away.  Mobile devices for most are companions to the PCs not replacements.   Maybe we won't need as many anymore, but there are too many power users who will probably never get rid of their PCs anytime soon.
Mar 23, 2012 12:36PM

WoW is about right.

As a note about Apple and Android. Windows has a longstanding ecosystem that is no where even close to being replicated "." the "its the apps stupid" argument, while valid to some degree seems to overlook the whole purpose of personal computing. 1 million apps that offer no real productivity cannot be compared with a relatively small number of productivity applications that are part of the Windows ecosystem. Remember, the ones that earn developers a 'profit". That tablet/smartphone/ (including metro style) apps are a compliment to productivity applications and are pigeoned to a different class of personal computing. My 12 and 14 year olds tell me daily how many new "free" "apps" they have on their tablets; great I ask; type me a letter and balance my checkbook on that thing. No; but I can watch Sponge Bob! And look at this; Angry Birds, Angry Ants, Angry Ducks, Angry Dogs, Angry Farts! WooHoo!

Someone, please show me how all these application developers are turning these things into productivity tools that are going to be able to make anyone a living; something tangible please.

"skepticism" "doomed" "depressed" "not a chance" -  "guessing"   Hmm.  Maybe not.

Apr 1, 2012 1:13AM
I would not hesitate to buy a Windows 8 tablet with the full power of a PC. I have had Windows 8 Preview for a while on my laptop and I think it would be way more interesting on a tablet without any compromise of power or usability
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

124 rated 1
266 rated 2
452 rated 3
702 rated 4
671 rated 5
604 rated 6
640 rated 7
495 rated 8
267 rated 9
158 rated 10

Top Picks




Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.