To hear Dell and HP tell it, the slump in PC sales can be blamed in part on Windows 8, which won't do much to improve the situation until sometime next year.
During conference calls this week to talk about their earnings both Dell and HP pointed to lousy PC sales as a problem. Dell actually came out and said Windows 8 anticipation had resellers drawing down PC inventory, but also acknowledged that any benefit the new operating system will have on sales would be delayed into next year.
IDC backs them up. "Factors such as Windows 8 coupled with Ultrabooks could present a positive turn of events next year," says Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, "but it also faces some initial hurdles; chief of which is that buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms. The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market."
HP doesn't name Windows 8 by name, but talks about problems selling PCs because of people are holding off until they see what's new later on. "[The] PC market remains weak, and channel inventory is high across the industry ahead of new product releases," CEO Meg Whitman said in the company's earning call, according to a transcript by Seeking Alpha. "Our PC revenue was down 10% year-over-year, driven by this weakness and an aggressive pricing from our competitors."
HP may have a trick up its sleeve, though. Whitman says that this fall it will have "a new line of PCs and tablets with a focus on design," perhaps to rival iPads and Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface devices.
These design-focused devices will include some HP secret sauce, says said John Solomon, senior vice president of America sales for HP's printing and personal systems division, in an interview with CRN. "We will be very focused on the commercial tablet opportunity, which is completely under penetrated. And, we have some unique intellectual property that we're going to apply," Solomon told CRN.
VMware embraces Windows 8
VMware is upgrading its desktop virtualization software to support Windows 8 virtual machines so the platform will be ready when Windows 8 launches in October.
VMware Workstation 9 does more than just run Windows 8 on a virtual machine, the company says; it supports specific new hardware features such as multi-touch.
So if a Windows 8 application designed to Microsoft's touch-centric specifications (formerly Metro apps) is running on a virtual machine, the physical machine will be responsive to features that recognize finger movements such as swipes, pinches, drags, rotates and the like.
The virtual machine will also display these applications full-screen without borders as the apps are intended to appear on Windows 8 physical machines, VMware says.
Graffiti ads for Surface
The Windows 8 tablets called surface are due out in October the same day Windows 8 becomes available, and it looks like someone is starting a subtle ad campaign.
This photo shows what could be a stylized version of a Surface table with its cover keyboard.
Perhaps the idea is to get people wondering what this surface thing is before launching ads with more substance. This guerrilla marketing might lift the Surface coolness factor. Graffiti is cool, right?
Then again, maybe it's Photoshopped.
Dell not worried about Surface
Dells' founder and CEO thinks Surface tablets pose little threat to his business over the next 10 months. Michael Dell's assessment gives Surface somewhere between 1% and 2% of the entire PC market through the middle of next year, according to the Seeking Alpha transcript of the company's recent earnings call. "[W]e're ready for Windows 8," he says.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.
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