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Microsoft: tablets will outsell desktop PCs in 2013

Surface

By Barry Collins in Amsterdam

Posted on 27 Jun 2012 at 10:54

Sales of tablets will surpass traditional desktop PCs next year, according to Microsoft.

Speaking at TechEd Europe in Amsterdam, Microsoft’s vice president for Windows Web Services, Antoine Leblond, reiterated Microsoft’s philosophy that touch will become the dominant interface over the next couple of years.

“Next year, tablets will outsell desktop PCs,” said Leblond. “Touch is coming to PCs and that’s going to change the way UIs are designed very dramatically, just like the mouse did.”

Touch is coming to PCs and that’s going to change the way UIs are designed very dramatically, just like the mouse did

Speaking a week after Microsoft revealed its own-brand Surface tablet, Leblond was naturally keen to emphasise the benefits of the touchscreen Metro interface, he also stressed that Microsoft wasn’t turning its back on laptop and desktop users. “It [Metro] works equally well on a desktop or a tablet,” he insisted, with colleagues demonstrating a variety of keyboard shortcuts to navigate the Metro Start menu.

However, the demonstration faltered when Leblond’s colleague attempted to demonstrate touchpad gestures such as double-fingered scrolling, with the demo laptop repeatedly refusing to recognise the gesture controls.

Business friendly

Leblond was also at pains to stress Windows 8’s business credentials, emphasising the ability to switch between the Metro style apps and traditional x86 software. “You don’t have to choose between a small, thin and light tablet and the apps you rely on,” he said. “You don’t have to choose between the device you want and the device you’re allowed to use at work.”

The section of Leblond’s keynote speech that drew the biggest response from the hundreds of developers in the audience was also a business-related feature: Windows To Go.

He demonstrated how employees could run a locked-down installation of Windows 8 on a Windows 7 PC, simply by plugging in a USB drive, allowing companies to give employees access to corporate applications without the security risks of running it on their own hardware.

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User comments

Maybe for consumers, but businesses?

I can certainly see how tablets will outsell desktop PC's for the consumer market, but I'm yet to be convinced the same will happen for the business market. The same is true for interface, while for consumers touch works well for simple browsing, it's not really a good alternative to KB and mouse for businesses (yet?).

By skarlock on 27 Jun 2012

Desktop bound...

I work at a desk all day long. I'm not going to be swapping out my multiple-monitor setup + ergonomic keyboard to spend all day typing page after page of text on a tablet!

Metro might "work" on a desktop, but it is ill-suited to desktop work (multiple windows visible at the same time).

By big_D on 27 Jun 2012

I am sure that sales of tablets will do better than PCs for a few years, thats because everyone already has a desktop or laptop. If forced to choose only one, I feel most people will stick with a PC.

Besides who wants grubby finger prints on their main work screen, not to mention an aching arm.

By PhilGQ on 27 Jun 2012

I am sure that sales of tablets will do better than PCs for a few years, thats because everyone already has a desktop or laptop. If forced to choose only one, I feel most people will stick with a PC.

Besides who wants grubby finger prints on their main work screen, not to mention an aching arm.

By PhilGQ on 27 Jun 2012

Use LeapMotion when it arrives and you won't need to worry about either (grubby finger prints or aching arm).

Not that it will help me develop websites, but hey, I'm a master procrastinator.

By 0thello on 27 Jun 2012

Obviously...

...Common sense proves the above to be correct. WHomever already has a desktop will have little need to change as it's as if a dramatic super chip/gpu is going to arrive anytime soon. Mild speed increases, yes, which only the hardcore go for.

On the other hand the WIn8 tablets will be nice to the general public so let the buying commence.

"Metro might "work" on a desktop, but it is ill-suited to desktop work (multiple windows visible at the same time)."
- I don't seem to have an issue with multiple windows open at the same time and have pretty much carried on as normal. Please explain the issue with multiple windows?

By rhythm on 27 Jun 2012

@rythm

Look again, Metro, not Windows 8.

Metro only allows 1 window on small screens and a maximum of a 2/3 1/3 split on larger displays, a long way from the 6+ I use daily. At the moment I'm generating offers for customers based on price lists, defect reports and contact information.

It is much easier generating the required documentation having the multiple sources of information all visible at the same time, as opposed to having to open one, remember an entry, swap to another, remember another entry, swap to another, remember another entry, swap to another and try and remember all the stuff you've just read!

If you are using Windows applications on Windows 8, it isn't a problem, but if they are Metro apps, the efficient workflow is out of the window.

By big_D on 27 Jun 2012

Using touch extensively on a desktop machine in a business is almost certainly in contravention of ergonomic requirements and may even be contrary to Health & Safety. Why won't touch advocates understand this?

Even if you drop the screen down to replace the keyboard, it's probably still breaking all the ergonomic rules because you have to look down so much longer - all the time, in fact.

Doesn't mean there isn't a role for touch in business but it can only be on an occasional basis.

By AdrianB on 27 Jun 2012

Let's wait & see shall we?

There's a very good chance that Tablets will outsell PCs, for the very good reasons which people have articulated above.

This generation of Tablets, especially Apple & Android, are primarily consumption devices, and only Windows\Intel offers the capability to do 'serious' work.

Most people will continue to work on relatively static devices. The vast majority of PCs are used by people who never work outside the Office.
But I can easily envisage a situation in which developments of these Windows8 Tablets will form the flexible core of some workers' systems.
Docked and plugged in to multi-monitor setiups they can offer the full functions of today's desktops, then popped-out and taken to meetings etc.

I guess my point is that there is no simplistic 'normal' setup, and a whole variety of devices will continue to co-exist
to fulfill a complex patchwork of personal, social and economic roles.

Vive la difference!

By wittgenfrog on 28 Jun 2012

The PC sales have stagnated, and they are already starting to decline now, while tablet sales are growing at a rapid pace. People are much more interested in buying tablets now than new PC's.

By siempro on 21 Apr 2013

The PC sales have stagnated, and they are already starting to decline now, while tablet sales are growing at a rapid pace. People are much more interested in buying tablets now than new PC's.

By siempro on 21 Apr 2013

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