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What can save the Xmas PC market? Not Windows 8, say analysts

People wanted Win7, but there's no Vista effect now

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Analysts are lining up to denounce Microsoft's latest OS, claiming Windows 8 has been slow out of the blocks.

The NPD Group estimates that in the four weeks since Microsoft coughed the software it was on 58 per cent of devices sold - compared to the 83 per cent achieved by Windows 7 after its launch.

Stephen Baker, veep at NPD, admitted in a statement it was still too early to "place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market ...

"We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped," he added.

That said, Microsoft's grip on the device market has loosened with the advent of smartphones and tabs anyway.

Numbers from channel watcher Canalys show Microsoft accounts for 72 per cent of traditional PCs including tablets but add smartphones to the equation and share falls to 32 per cent.

"We are seeing no major uplift in retail [due to Windows 8]," said Tim Coulling, analyst at Canalys. "It definitely won't reverse the trend of tablets being the hottest product out there".

As reported by The Channel weeks ago, the fact PC vendors have made cautious forecasts for Windows 8 tablet sales this Chrimbo hasn't helped out Microsoft's new OS.

"Windows 8 is expensive, and a lot of [vendors] have missed the Christmas window, they are not getting onto [retailers' shelves]. It won't be a good Christmas for PC vendors that is for sure," added Coulling.

According to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund, Windows 8 has endured an "awkward start" in the weeks after launch.

He forecast zero growth for traditional PCs or a six per cent decline if ultrabooks are excluded from the estimate.

"We assume that many customers will prefer an iPad to a Windows device, but Office is still an anchor for the enterprise and prosumers," he added.

Not if you're Barclays Bank, which recently ordered 8,500 iPads from Insight UK to be used by staff liaising with customers. It said it evaluated all slabs and chose Apple.

Gartner told us earlier this month the premium for Windows 8 machines will deter hard-up punters from taking the leap: "the fourth quarter will see little uplift [in PC sales]".

Microsoft was in chest thumping mode this week, with Tami Reller, chief marketing and financial officer, claiming 40 million Windows 8 licences were sold since 26 October.

She claimed that in the first couple of months of life some 60 million Windows 7 licences were sold.

It is, however, difficult to tell how many of these Win8 licences were sold and how many were merely free upgrades.

Microsoft did not comment further. ®

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