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Experts gathered round corpse of PC market: It's ALIVE! Alive, we tell you

Give it another blast with the XP defibrillator! Clear! >BZZZT<

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The XP replacement bonanza reviving the PC market isn't yet over, with estimates suggesting that one in five biz machines out in the wilds is still running the thirteen year-old OS, an HP exec has told The Channel.

After eight consecutive quarters of declining sales, the commercial PC market returned to life in the first quarter this year and kept breathing in the second - but Microsoft ending support for XP was just one of the contributing factors.

"It is never any one thing," said Dion Weisler, exec veep for HP's Printer and Personal Systems group, "whenever you fool yourself into believing there is a little magic pill that's either bringing the world undone or putting the world back together it is generally wrong."

As a region Europe has been shrinking and "a drag for many quarters" - making for better sales comparisons this year - and of course the "general economic recovery" has lifted shipments, the HP man said.

Forrester analysis suggests that as of Q3 '13 the average organisation had 20 per cent of its employees' devices running XP. The number is lower according to IDC, but Netmarketshare has the XP installed base at no less than 25 per cent.

"The XP refresh isn't over," said HP's Weisler, "there's probably 20-odd per cent [left to go]."

Some in the channel have shifted focus away from traditional PCs in recent times, what with trashed margins, virtual desktops and the economic downturn that has forced businesses to delay spending.

XP migration is a "multi-quarter" event benefiting the B2B channel, said Alastair Edwards, principal analyst at Canalys. "Gradually the volume of refresh will slow down but will still drive business for Q3," he adds.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, agreed. Gartner expects "more sustained growth" in the professional market, he says, "over the next year".

Atwal adds that more aggressive pricing on form factors including thin and light, hybrid and Windows tablets will give a lift to shipment numbers, on top of the wider swap-out programme.

"The desktop isn't as dead as everyone thought," said Martin Hellawell, chairman at Marlow-based HP partner Softcat, "Nine months ago it was all doom and gloom but companies are investing". ®

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