back to article Microsoft says tablets will trump PCs in 2013

Microsoft reckons tablets will outsell standard PCs next year - and Windows 8 will be the catalyst for the shift. "Everything used to be desktops, now 60 per cent of PCs sold are laptops. Next year, tablets will outsell desktops," forecast Microsoft's Antoine Leblond, head of its web services operation. Microsoft Surface …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Microsoft says a lot of things.

    Few turn out to be true or accurate.

    1. Anomynous Coward

      Think it might be true that tablets will become the norm.

      I doubt that will be tablets running Windows though.

      We already have tablets in our business. They are nearly all Apple.

      Most of the desks have a boxy tower PC under them - no reason for that to change.

      Windows tablets might take over from one or two of the laptops people use, I suppose.

      I'd be surprised if they amounted to even as much as one tenth of the devices people are using here by this time next year.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Apple are dominant because they're the first to launch a decent mass-market product... just as they were with iPhone. Yet now iPhone is not the dominant market player. Tablets will become less brand-specific eventually, or will die out.

      2. h4rm0ny

        "Think it might be true that tablets will become the norm. I doubt that will be tablets running Windows though."

        Tablets wont be the norm because cheapish, decent quality hybrids will supplant them. Why have less functionality for no advantage? And Windows 8 will probably do very well on such devices. Not only does it look to be very nice on tablets, the OS and application space is well adapted to more productive work where you might want a keyboard. Not to mention MS have paid a lot of attention to business integration for Win8.

        "We already have tablets in our business. They are nearly all Apple."

        And yet so many people who have an iPad at work also have a laptop. When laptops can be tablets too, it is the pure tablet that loses out. Apple timed the iPad just as the technology was reaching the right stage for tablets to be affordable and light. But that hardly means that the market will always be theirs. Lots of reasons one might prefer to get a Win8 device. Android will get their act together and produce a better tablet OS at some point as well (to be fair, I have limited experience on an Android tablet and am going on my general impression from other comments for that).

        "Most of the desks have a boxy tower PC under them - no reason for that to change."

        Loads of reasons. Portable devices are getting ever more powerful. Win8 has a lot of features for BYOD and roaming profiles. Most people with desktops don't use them to nearly their full potential. At some point a tipping point will be reached and you'll see generic laptops and hybrids become the standard. Apple make their sales on selling themselves and the cool and fancy and charging a premium. That doesn't translate well to every user in a business having one.

        "I'd be surprised if they amounted to even as much as one tenth of the devices people are using here by this time next year."

        Well there's a v. large install base of non-Win8 out there. 10% of people upgrading their devices from now until June 2013? Sounds a bit high, but maybe. Let's instead compare how many sales are actually made as a more useful indicator of preference.

        1. nematoad

          Hercules, moi?

          "Loads of reasons. Portable devices are getting ever more powerful. "

          Yeah, and when they make a 24" widescreen laptop/tablet then I will have to become ever more powerful as well, just to lug the thing around!

        2. James Micallef Silver badge


          I would more or less tend to agree, but too much depends on Microsoft's implementation. The future of the tablet is the Asus transformer form factor, MS need to get right both that AND the implementation of Win 8 so it can still act like a proper OS for power users.

          Look at it this way... say you're a business currently running thousands of windows desktops, you've only recently got them all up to Win7, so you won't be interested in moving to Win8 just yet until MS irons out the problems with it. 2-3 years from now you're upgrading to Windows 8 + new hardware. If you're still running some Windows desktop software (and I suspect a majority of companies do), you have the option of either a whole new bunch of desktops / laptops (that have way more power than most of your users will ever use) or a tablet+keyboard hybrid with detachable screen and enough graphics power + external ports to be able to drive an external display, and plug in a full-size keyboard if necessary. If your users want tablets, you can either buy a bunch of standalone tablets with your "option 1" desktops, or they can just detach the existing ones in "option 2".

          Option 1 looks great in theory, there's 2 big IFs of course, (1) MS to make Win8 and the tablet/hybrid work as well as a laptop in laptop mode AND as well as an iPad in tablet mode, and (2) do that fast enough to stay within the next round of company upgrades. As companies move more and more software to Web-based, there might come a point where they will genuinely not need Windows as an OS because all their apps run in a browser

          On the balance of their recent record + how fast Apple / Google / Amazon are driving cloud-based services, I don't think MS can deliver on this vision

    2. Mark Allread

      "Microsoft says a lot of things.

      Few turn out to be true or accurate."

      Nonsense, I'm still rocking 640k in my PC.

      1. Eddy Ito
        Thumb Up

        "Nonsense, I'm still rocking 640k in my PC."

        What a coincidence, I have a 640k megabyte hard drive in my laptop also.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I suppose they are commenting on a device made of hope,

      Hope It works

      Hope it sells

      Hope they actually manufacture it.

    4. Robert E A Harvey

      Confusion of numbers

      Well, maybe. Maybe tablets will outsell PCs. Thing is everton mints outsell Mercedes C-class saloons. Socks outsell underpants 2:1. You aren't comparing like with like.

      in 0.5 billion office workers need a desktop PC this year, the fact that each of their children has an iThing, outnumbering the desktops by 2,5:1 does not mean that those 0.5 billion won't want a desktop to do their job next year. It's a class error.

      M$ has become deluded into thinking the toys are an alternative, not an extra. If they concentrate all their efforts on the toys, the desktop will suffer.

      Oh look. Already happening.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Confusion of numbers

        "Socks outsell underpants 2:1."

        Only for underpant wearing men with two legs, and who don't go around in sandals or barefeet. So that's about two thirds of the global population ignored.

        1. Horned-Devil

          Re: Confusion of numbers

          2/3 of the global population don't have two legs? As the average is two (maybe with a fractional rounding difference) does that mean there are whole populations of three (or more) legged men wandering around (if wandering is what you would call that motion with those additional legs...)

          1. Robert E A Harvey

            @Horned Devil Re: Confusion of numbers

            Ah yes. Fractional

            Speaking as a mathematician, since no-one has 3 legs [*] and a few have only 1, the average number of legs must be <2.

            Therefore nearly everyone on the planet has more than the average number of legs.

            [*] yes, yes. That's either Rolf Harris, or it's not a proper leg.

    5. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Microsoft accuracy?

      Tablets will outsell standard PCs next year - accurate

      Windows 8 will be the catalyst for the shift. - bollocks

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What visionaries!

  3. hugo tyson

    As if...

    Yeah right...

    They wish...

  4. a53

    Er ....

    Please buy my tablet .........

  5. dotdavid

    "Everything you could do before, you can still do in Windows 8"

    ...he said, before adding "it'll just take you four times longer to do it while battling with our next generation Metro UI!"

  6. David Hearn

    Not what he said...

    "Everything used to be desktops, now 60 per cent of PCs sold are laptops. Next year, tablets will outsell desktops,"

    So what he said was that tablets would outsell DESKTOPS, not that tablets would outsell PCs (laptop and desktops combined).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not what he said...

      still extremely unlike in 2013.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: Not what he said...

      They will force all desktops to have windows 8 installed at sale. No one will touch them with a stick.

      Everything will outsell desktops.

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Partly correct in some ways...

    Microsoft reckons tablets will outsell standard PCs next year - and Windows 8 will be the catalyst for the shift.

    Taking these two intriguing Microsoft marketing droid statements apart...

    "Tablets outsell standard PCs next year"

    Depends on your definition of "standard PC" and "tablet", seeing as notebook sales are growing much faster than standard PCs this isn't much of a target.

    "Windows 8 will be the catalyst for the shift"

    It'll be a catalyst for something, probably a shift * - but Windows 8 will definitely not be a catalyst for an increase in sales of tablet form factor PCs. There's a good chance it'll do the opposite.

    * My betting is eventually, heads will shift, then roll a bit. Not too much mind, as they're not allowed rounded corners.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2013? no. 2015, maybe.

  9. ukgnome

    Are they on about paracetamol from all the headaches windows 8 will give you?

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Nah, not paracetemol

      More like straight up Morphine. You'd have to be on morphine to think that Windows 8 is going to be anything but a flop.

  10. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Battling the UI

    I gave up trying that years ago, what with Aero, ribbons and the continual hunt for elusive menu items.

    Obligatory bad car analogy: If GM kept moving their gas, brake and clutch pedals around every few model years, I wouldn't buy their cars (I wouldn't anyway, but that's another story).

    Mine's the one with the Print function in this pocket .... no, wait, maybe its the other pocket. Or the other coat.

    1. DrXym

      Re: Battling the UI

      I think Microsoft are right to redesign their UI if it aids usability and makes their product more discoverable and accessible. Providing that it is functionally equivalent to what it replaces. I don't think that to be the case with Metro at all. It's a horrible replacement for the start menu in its current form.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Battling the UI

        Microsoft are right to redesign their UI if it aids usability and makes their product more discoverable and accessible.

        What aids usability the most is not changing the UI.

        1. DrXym

          Re: Battling the UI

          "What aids usability the most is not changing the UI."

          With that attitude we'd all be using punched cards. The assumption that what is there now is perfect in every way and cannot be done better is always wrong. Even a "usable" UI can be improved. e.g. making the UI more discoverable, giving frequently used functionality greater prominence, adding new functionality which replaces previously cumbersome tasks, and aligning the UI to the tasks people use it for.

          This can be seen in the evolution of the Windows task bar and start menu. Every release has added substantially to the behaviour of these key components. e.g. the task bar now lets apps be pinned to it so it doubles up as a launcher. It also shows thumbnails of running apps which can prove useful at times. The start menu tries to show apps that were used recently and does away with the hideous cascade of popup menus that users needed to navigate through in older versions to launch.

          Not changing the UI or claiming it's usable is a cop out. If you don't want the UI to change, don't upgrade your OS.

          Now onto Metro. The issue I have with Metro is not that it has changed. I couldn't care less if my launcher was tiles or a start menu providing that the tiles were functionally rich and useful as what it replaces. But it isn't. Metro doesn't do folders so it is kludged to hides icons for readmes, help, uninstallers etc., and to dump the rest of the icons in some linear tile arrangement that spans out horizontally over several virtual screens, losing all order in the process. And the tiles are massive making it a pain in the arse to use with a mouse. It's simply not designed to work with a desktop environment.

          Some simple things could improve the experience immeasurably:

          1. Implement tile folders and use for existing program folders. There really is no excuse for this omission even now.

          2. Let users zoom in or out of metro to pack more tiles into their screen real estate.

          3. Provide sort and multi select functionality so groups can be ordered around

          4. Provide a compact mode which either overlays the screen so users don't lose context whenever they open a window

          I expect that someone in MS land has plans to make it usable in Windows 9 but that is cold comfort for this release. Metro sucks.

    2. Slipgate

      It is a bad analogy...

      ...though with a little tweaking holds true.

      Moving around the accelerator, brake and clutch pedal (steering well whilst we're at it!) is akin to changing the primary input devices - rather like the keyboard, mouse and screen on a computer. That hasn't changed in years, how you turn the stereo on, put the headlights on and what they look like, has...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft's tablets are PCs. They're disguised as tablets but I'm sure you'll be plugging in a mouse to use some of the non-metro apps.

  12. DrXym

    Windows 8 will suck on desktops

    Metro is primarily designed for touch users with enormous icons for people to stab at with their fat fingers and little concern of how it functions with a mouse and keyboard. This is quite obvious just from using W8 for even a short period of time. So yeah Windows 8 can be used on the desktop but the experience is breathtakingly awful. I don't see Windows 8 being popular with business or personal users.

    It's also worth remembering that devices sold as Windows RT aren't really Windows 8 at all. They're gimped subsets of Windows that host a metro shell and other core bits. They lack a "classic" desktop and due to their different processor instruction set are totally incompatible with x86 apps even if they had one.

    I think there will be a lot of pissed off people who buy "Windows" tablets and discover they are nothing of the sort.

    1. Mark Allread

      Re: Windows 8 will suck on desktops

      "It's also worth remembering that devices sold as Windows RT aren't really Windows 8 at all"

      That's why they're calling it Windows RT, not Windows 8

      "They're gimped subsets of Windows that host a metro shell and other core bits."

      It's essentially what the iPad is to the Mac.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        iOS == OSX?

        Erm, no. Unlike Microsoft's current (and very intentional) Windows 8 marketing strategy, Apple has never attempted to conflate the iPad OS with OSX, despite the fact that they have their origins in a common code base.

      2. DrXym

        Re: Windows 8 will suck on desktops

        The iPad is an extension of the iPhone which is an extension of the iPod. I think the danger of confusion in people's minds is quite low since there was never any believe that they were derived from the Mac.

        When someone sees a Windows tablet, one launched at the same time as some other Windows tablet there is obviously going to be huge scope for confusion over compatibility between these devices and backwards compatibility between previous versions of Windows. Windows "RT" is an utterly meaningless distinction and its bound to cause confusion.

  13. jubtastic1

    To be fair

    He never said they would be Windows tablets, and "Windows 8 will be a catalyst for change" has more than one interpretation.

    Regardless, this is all moot now that Microsoft has refocused on dominating the Post-Post-PC market with Windows IX for Windows Augmented LifeLenses.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: To be fair


      Catalyst: something which causes change, without itself being affected.

      So W8 will still be an abomination which few people use, but it will drive others to use tablets?

      The man may be a visionary!

      Until someone hits F5 in their spreadsheet, or ARM gets around to producing desktop CPUs.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And therein lies the problem...

    Quote: "Everything you could do before, you can still do in Windows 8"

    Which means that precisely nothing has changed. The concept that made the iPad stand out wasn't the fact that it had a touch screen. MS has tried that for at least a decade without success.

    The iPad is popular because it isn't a computer/PC (in the eyes of the general public). It's an appliance that provides communication, entertainment, and many other functions in a form where you simply press a button and it works. Although it has an operating system, it's practically invisible. And - like any appliance - the user is protected from accidental harm. No need to keep asking, "are you sure you want to click/download/run/open that?", or telling them, "you are unprotected - please install firewall/antivirus/etc software", or - with almost every passing day - "there is an important security update to install". No drivers, no techno-babble, no expertise required whatsoever.

    But MS is fixated with the idea that "everything is a PC running Windows". Windows 8 has disastrously contradictory goals - to compete with the iPad (which is an appliance) and to do everything Windows 7 did (which is for a general purpose computer). The net result is that it can't do either of these very well. It's only tolerable on a desktop to the extent that you can make all the 'features' of Windows 8 disappear, and it isn't a tablet operating system - it's a PC in a tablet form, just like all the other slate/tablet PCs Windows has supported over the last decade. In other words, an expensive PC in a less usable form.

    1. YARR
      Thumb Down

      Logic Fail

      Quote: "Everything you could do before, you can still do in Windows 8"

      Which means that precisely nothing has changed.


      Re: And therein lies the problem...

      Microsoft was trying to sell $2000 laptops and $50,000 tables.

      They simply weren't targeting the consumer in an environment where normal PCs are already DIRT CHEAP. A useful and usable PC can still be had for as little as $300. It's hard for a $2000 tablet or hybrid to compete in that kind of environment.

      Although once you need to actually "compute" something, both these $300 PCs and $600 tablets are woefully inadequate.

    3. P. Lee

      Re: And therein lies the problem...

      Indeed, the tablet's strengths are "always on, ultra-portable and compact interface," (no keyboard, mouse) and that was only possible when Apple broke the "desktop" GUI paradigm which prevailed on computers (and attempts at smartphones) up until that point. But "no keyboard" is utterly inappropriate for typing 300 page tenders. Low power cpus are utterly inappropriate for WYSIWYG re-pagination of said documents. 10" screens are horrible for dealing with large documents or pulling together information from lots of sources.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nexus 7

    that is all.

    Microsoft have failed.

  16. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Well they would say that wouldn't they?

    They have to continue the hype of their 'device' that may or may not ever get released in a form that may or may not look anything like the one that they showed to hacks last week.

    The one that said Journalists we not allowed to review properly.

    Let the FUD Continue...

    Mines the one with a pen and paper in the pocket. That will sell more than MS's tablet this year.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computer says no

    Well Windows 8 might help them flog a few more tablets from other manufacturers, but I wouldn't really class the surface as a tablet. After all the screen can stand independently without the need of a smartcover and it comes with a keyboard.

  18. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Such statement actually says something different

    To me, this sort of predictive bla of an OS that hasn't even seen a customer yet says "PLEASE buy this shit, PLEASE. Don't buy anything else because if this doesn't work we're pretty much f*cked as a company because we just pissed off all our other OEMS who will compete the crap out of us as soon as they find an alternative OS".

    If any OEM out there has a remote clue they'd band together and work on Linux usability. That's what Apple got absolutely right (although not perfect, we all work different), so if someone gets serious about that on Linux all hell will break lose for Microsoft. And deservedly so, they have been blackmailing OEMs for years to keep them away from Linux (by charging more for OEM licenses if not exclusive).

    However, it demands Linux UIs becoming mom-and-pop compatible, and they are not. Especially not when you try to get WiFi up..

  19. Richard Jones 1

    There Just Might be more Than One Market

    I have tried to use the Win8 preview, honestly I have. It did not run too badly in desk top mode though getting that dreadful Metro junk out of the way was a pain.

    Ralph5 I so totally agree with you Win8'Metro' is NOT usable with a mouse. Finding the programs you want can be achieved but only by setting up short cuts - if they are still allowed by launch time. (I cannot try the release candidate it needs CPU features that are not available on the spare rather than a 'production' system.)

    I have less than zero interest in a tablet since it does nothing that I want and lots that I do not want. I do not want a 'mobile' that goes flat in 24 hours and does a wide range of things that I will never use, My Nokia 6230i is a mobile telephone which must be at least six years old and the only reason for thinking about a replacement is that the battery now lasts only three days.

    I do have an amount of personal data that I want under my control, not housed somewhere where 'Uncle Sam' or anyone/everyone else can browse it at any time so the cloud is, for me, more irrelevant junk. So what am I left with Win (H)8 with less functionality than Win 7, more bulk and a less, no make that a considerably less, attractive Kinder Garden 'Welcome' screen.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    X says tablets will take over from PCs by 20nn

    Add Microsoft to the list.

  21. Dcope
    Thumb Down

    Internet on tablets and smart phones and there apps. Gaming on my PC can't see this changing much in the next few years

  22. TRT Silver badge

    Coming from Microsoft...

    It'll smell like a trump.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coming from Microsoft...

      But what kind of trump?

      An Ivana trump?

      A Donald trump?

      Or maybe one of those warm, silent messengers of death, scented of heavily sulphured cabbage, with rich sweet and spicy overtones.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Coming from Microsoft...

        @AC, obviously you are a connoisseur of the vent du pantalons...

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