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PC market's bleeding slows thanks to XP phase-out

Decline levels off a bit as customers finally move to new machines

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The end of support for the Windows XP operating system has triggered a jump in sales, bringing a rare bit of good news for PC vendors.

Research firm Gartner found that PC sales in the first quarter of 2014 are down 1.7 per cent over the same period last year. While still showing decline, the figure points to a possible rebound in the PC sector as the loss is far slimmer than those seen in previous quarters.

"The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments," said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

"All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter."

By comparison, in the last quarter Gartner logged a 6.9 per cent decline over the same period in the previous year, and 2013 as a whole was regarded as the single worst annual decline in PC sales the company has ever recorded.

Researchers noted that the enterprise space in particular saw a boost in sales as companies moved to replace their old systems with newer hardware powered by Windows 8 and Windows 7, after Microsoft's decision to end support for the XP platform after 13 years.

Fellow research firm IDC noted a similar slowing in the decline, though the company was more pessimistic in its estimation of the PC market, suggesting that shipments were down 4.4 per cent in the last quarter.

Both firms named Lenovo as the top PC vendor on the market, followed by HP, Dell, Acer and ASUS.

While the figures show a slowdown in the moribund PC space, the market as a whole remains in flux. The explosion in tablet and mobile sales has taken a hefty toll on the market for traditional desktop and notebook PCs and overall sales have plummeted in recent years - in the consumer market in particular.

"On the technology front, the transition to more mobile devices and usage modes is unlikely to stop, although the short term impact on PC shipments may slow as tablet penetration rises – as we've begun to see in some mature regions," said Loren Loverde, vice president of worldwide PC trackers for IDC.

"The net result remains consistent with our past forecasts – in particular, that there is potential for PC shipments to stabilize, but not much opportunity for growth." ®

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