The Windows update that luddites have kind of, sort of, maybe been waiting for is set for public release sometime in October. A report at ZDNet from the always-reliable Mary Jo Foley states that Microsoft is on track to make good on its promise to deliver the RTM (release to manufacturing) version of Windows 8.1 by the end of this month. Then, Foley says the final version of Windows 8.1 will launch to the public sometime in October. Windows 8.1 includes a number of updates, but the most talked about are likely the ability to boot and log in directly to the Desktop view, and the return of something that resembles a Start button but functions quite a bit differently. More →
There is absolutely no question at this point that tablets are responsible for the global decline in PC sales. This was an inevitability that top market research firms fought at first in an effort to guard their clients, but the numbers don’t lie: PC sales are falling as tablet sales skyrocket. There are still signs of life for PCs though, and one is that people for whom work is a priority still need the software and multitasking benefits afforded by laptops and desktops. Recent market research from Deloitte found that 82% of college students own computers and 80% own smartphones, but just 18% own tablets. “The combination of smartphones and laptops makes the tablet redundant for students,” Deloitte’s Brent Schoenbaum told MarketWatch. Dealnews.com’s Louis Ramirez added that “unless you’re shooting for a degree in Angry Birds, tablets are a horrible back-to-school purchase.”
Although Windows 8 has been steadily building momentum all year, the latest numbers from Net Applications show that its growth rate has stalled over the last month. Overall, Net Applications found that Windows 8 was on 5.4% of all desktop computers in July, up from 5.1% of all desktops in June. However, this is the slowest adoption growth rate that Windows 8 has had in months, as its growth by 0.3 percentage points is half the growth rate that the platform saw between May and June. Windows 8 adoption also grew by 0.5 percentage points between April and May, by 0.6 percentage points between March and April and by 0.5 percentage points between February and March. It will be interesting to see if growth picks up again once Microsoft releases Windows 8.1, which will add a boot-to-desktop mode and a variation of the Start button, later this year.
Tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems have struggled to gain traction so far and Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows says there’s a very simple explanation for this: The first generation of Windows tablets just isn’t very good. To be clear, Thurrott says that there are several touch screen Windows 8 PCs and ultrabooks that are very worthy of users’ time and that shouldn’t be overlooked. But when it comes to pure tablets, he deems that every single one is “simply to flawed to recommend” to anyone interested in buying one. More →
Industry watchers collectively cringed last week when market research firms Gartner and IDC each published second-quarter shipment estimates that showed a huge decline of about 11% on-year. That massive slide is representative of Windows 8′s continued failure to prompt consumers and businesses to upgrade, though a new wave of Haswell-powered laptops with huge battery life improvements may finally sway some users in the coming months. In the meantime though, it looks like Q2′s shipment decline might have been even worse than Gartner and IDC estimated.
According to Digitimes Research, which bases its numbers on data from its numerous supply chain and manufacturer sources, global notebook PC shipments declined 15.4% on-year in the second quarter, which is even worse than the 13.7% drop in the first quarter. Laptop sales outnumber desktop sales by a huge margin, so this is a very troubling trend to say the least.
Digitimes Research noted that Lenovo and Dell were the only two notebook vendors to see sequential shipment growth last quarter, as Samsung, Apple, Toshiba and other vendors all saw global shipments decline quarter-over-quarter.
In developing Windows 8, Microsoft made a big bet that adding touch capabilities to personal computers would help revive an industry that was getting eaten away by smartphones and tablets. But Creative Strategies president Tim Bajarin, writing over at Time, says his research has found that making touch such an important part of personal computers was a serious strategic error on Microsoft’s part. The reason, he says, is that PC users are so used to using mice and keyboards that they see no advantage to touching their screens to get work done. So while touch interfaces make perfect sense for smaller, portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, they make little sense for personal computers that have larger displays and that already come with trackpads or mice. More →
Microsoft wasn’t a big fan of Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign a few years ago, but the world’s largest software company seems to enjoy putting the shoe on the other foot. Following three other ads that pitted Apple’s iPad against tablets running its Windows 8 and Windows RT software, Microsoft has now issued a new ad along the same lines. In this fourth spot, two baseball scouts compete to sign a young pitcher. The scout with the Window 8 tablet video conferences with his boss while launching and navigating other apps on the same screen, while the scout with an iPad struggles to switch back and forth between apps to answer questions from his boss. Guess which scout nabs the promising young prospect? The ad concludes with an apropos pun: “Do two things at once without dropping the ball.” The full video is embedded below. More →
Slowly but surely, Windows 8 is making its mark. The latest numbers from Net Applications show that Windows 8 is now being used on 5.1% of all desktop computers, making it the third-most used desktop OS in the world behind Windows 7 (44.4%) and Windows XP (37.2%). More importantly, Net Applications says that Windows 8 has at last surpassed Vista, which now has a market share of just 4.6%. Given that Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP next year, we’ll likely see Windows 8 adoption skyrocket in 2014 when companies move to upgrade their machines to newer operating systems.
When it comes to computing, Android smartphones and tablets are Samsung’s bread and butter. Samsung is the only company other than Apple that consistently earns a profit from its smart devices business, and that profit just so happens to register in the billions each quarter. Despite the fact that PC sales are expected to continue their slow but steady decline, Samsung says it is still committed to building and selling personal computers as the company on Tuesday denied rumors that it plans to shutter its desktop computer business. More →
Yes, Samsung is launching even more tablets with different screen sizes, but this time they aren’t Galaxy-branded devices. The new ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 are Windows 8 tablets that deliver very different capabilities and add some real diversity to Samsung’s tablet lineup. The ATIV Q is the most intriguing of the pair because it actually comes preloaded with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean that gives users the option to use popular Android apps that aren’t yet available on Windows 8. Samsung also says that ATIV Q users will “also be able to transfer files to share folders and files from Windows 8 to Android, truly marrying the mobile and PC experiences.” The device features a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels, an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and up to 9 hours of battery life. More →
We saw plenty of promise in Windows 8 when we first previewed it back in 2012, but consumers and businesses weren’t blown away and PC sales began suffering as a result. Now that Windows 8 is seven months old, has anything changed? According to new market share data from Net Applications, which determines software market share by monitoring traffic across 40,000 difference websites, Windows 8′s share of the PC market grew to 4.27% in May from 3.82% in April. While things are certainly moving in the right direction, Windows 7′s share grew in May as well, from 44.72% in April to 44.85% last month. Worst of all, Vista’s market share of 4.51% is still greater than Windows 8′s share seven months after the new OS debuted. More →
The Xbox has long been Microsoft’s MVP in the consumer electronics market but Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott has started sounding the alarm that the new Xbox One might prove to be as polarizing as Windows 8 has been. Thurrott’s reasoning is that Microsoft is trying to make the Xbox One more than just a gaming console that also has access to key apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Internet Explorer. Rather, it’s an all-purpose entertainment console that serves as the main interface for live television, that delivers Skype connectivity on your television and that basically aims to take over your entire living room. More →
Samsung on Monday said it plans to hold a press conference in London on June 20th to debut several new devices. The company issued invitations under the heading “Samsung Premiere 2013 Galaxy & Ativ,” confirming that both Android and Windows devices will be unveiled during the event. It is unclear what models Samsung plans to showcase — “Galaxy” covers Android phones, tablets and even cameras, and the “Ativ” brand includes laptops, tablets and Windows Phone devices, so narrowing it down that way is impossible. Samsung did include a few teaser pictures on its invitation though, and two of the images appear to show close-ups of a notebook computer. The teaser images follow below.