Microsoft clearly didn’t have a good 2012 and that was apparent for several reasons. Firstly the evolution of its mobile OS in the form of Windows Phone 8 received lukewarm response when it was launched, and also because its aspirations for the tablet market took a heavy beating post the launch of the Surface RT. And now it seems like the company didn’t have a great time with PCs either, as a new research has shed light on the dismal run of Microsoft in that department. According to IDC, 2012’s fourth quarter PC sales took a substantial fall which is surprising as it includes the holiday season as well. This was a shocker really, as instead of the sales percentage slightly dropping from the past year, it actually went down by about 6.4%. This apparently is the first time it’s happening in over five years. It seems like a clear case of product confusion for potential buyers, as Microsoft introduced two products at the same time – the Windows 8 operating system and the Microsoft Surface RT tablet. It is evident that many buyers held back and decided to play the waiting game as they were quite unsure as to what’s going on with Microsoft. To makes matters worse, Microsoft launched the Surface RT as a lone tablet and pushed back the launch of the Surface Pro. Even though we’re speaking strictly of PCs here, it is understandable as to why things went wrong for MS.
Microsoft spent over $1.5 billion in Windows 8 marketing, which clearly hasn’t reaped the benefits for them. Will this change in the future? Probably yes, after the Surface Pro is launched and people sort out the whole Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT confusion. Honestly from a personal point of view, Windows 8 isn’t quite optimized to work on a non-touch computer, especially the Metro UI which is supposed to be the core of the Windows 8 OS. That’s not to say that the OS in itself is flawed. It’s a real change in the way we look at Windows, no doubt, but that at times is the problem. I’m sure there are several others out there who still remain on Windows 7 or earlier versions of Windows. The analyst from IDC, Jay Chou reflected on why Microsoft couldn’t post respectable sales figures in the fourth quarter of 2012.
He said – “Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013.”
When we look at how the OEMs fared, it was Dell and Acer which were the biggest losers seeing a drop in sales of about 20.8% and north of 28% accordingly. But HP grabbed a large chunk of the Windows marketshare this past quarter with 16.7% while Lenovo saw a good increase in marketshare with 15.7% of the pie. Lenovo as BGR rightly mentions, was probably the only company which saw a rise in marketshare. All in all, it was a forgettable fourth quarter for Microsoft, with Windows Phones not doing all that great either.