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PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide (theverge.com) 310

According to analyst firm Gartner, PC shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters -- "the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry." The company found that worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.9 million units in the third quart of 2016, a 5.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: The firm cites poor back-to-school sales and lowered demand in emerging markets. But the larger issue, as it has been for quite some time, is more existential than that. "The PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to," writes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again." The threat, of course, comes from smartphones, which have more aggressive upgrade cycles than PCs and have over time grown powerful enough to compete with desktop and laptop computers at performing less intensive tasks. Tablets too have become more capable, with Apple pushing its iPad Pro line as a viable laptop replacement. PC makers are feeling the pressure. HP, Dell, and Asus each had low single-digit growth, but Acer, Apple, and Lenovo all experienced declines, with Apple and Lenovo each suffering double-digit drops. Meanwhile, the rest of the PC market, which collectively ships more units per quarter than any of the big-name brands, is down more than 16 percent. Some good news is that 2-in-1 devices have experienced year-over-year growth. Kitigawa also notes: "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."
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PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide

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  • $$$ Workstations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @07:46PM (#53059071)
    Sees, I just spent $33k for a dual Xeon, 512 GB, and 4 Telsa K40. I suppose that will make up for > 10x standard PCs. I suppose you either need the horsepower, and it's still not enough, or you don't need it at all. I just hope the high end workstations continue to be available; noting Intel stopped their motherboard production.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The reality is CPU stagnation because CPU's hit a frequency wall and multi-core isn't good enough for the future of computing, basically we need a technology that re-enables single threaded performance. That's probably a good 50 years to a century away though.

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )
        I suppose SiGe or GaAs with a liquid N2 heat sink. Then again I suppose as the circuitry get's denser it's gate capacitance and interconnect resistance that keep the clock speeds so slow (compared to transistor speed).
      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        Don't forget Microsoft, Oracle, Sybase, and other companys' licensing systems that charge fees on every potentially usable core. There are some ways to work around it, such as IBM POWER7's TurboCore mode (where half the cores are shut off, and the enabled cores can use the disabled cores' cache and can run at a higher clock rate.) However, the fact that there is a penalty for more cores is costing the PC industry dearly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The reality is CPU stagnation because AMD pulled a Pentium-4, and Intel decided to get in touch with its Green side, instead of pushing further in the Hz-race. So, what did we get Bob? Intel selling us the same processor over and over again, each time with more energy-efficient features. And the rest of the industry taking an LSD-inspired trip to nowhere with recycled ideas like 'replacing the x86' but with arm chips this time (the AMD CEO should have stepped down after making that public announcement), and

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Another problem in my eyes is the gaming industry, which used to be offer strong incentives to upgrade a PC.
          While the CPU industry keeps increasing the performance of their products by adding more processing units, which is fine for a lot of applications, like video editing, encoding, CAD and similar things. But game developers seem to struggle a lot at distributing the world load among multiple threads, making many games terribly CPU bottlenecked.
          • But game developers seem to struggle a lot at distributing the world load among multiple threads, making many games terribly CPU bottlenecked.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

            The shitty realization that owning an i5 @ 4.5ghz doesn't mean fuck all if the game is locked to one core constantly pegged at 100% usage. At least it was free.

          • > But game developers seem to struggle a lot at distributing the world load among multiple threads, making many games terribly CPU bottlenecked.

            There are a few reasons for that:

            * Multithreading is not trivial. Most indie games only have a single threaded engine. It takes a lot of work to make something multithreaded. I
            * It also doesn't help that MSVC only supports OpenMP 2.0, along with C++ not having a standard thread library until recently.
            * Windows context switches are stupid expensive compared to

            • I think this applies to software development in general. Even the heavy weights like Photoshop, AutoCAD, etc. don't seem to fully multithread across cores. They seem to delineate on software or model boundaries. Such as UI, I/O, and open instances. They don't take MT to the core of the programs such as splitting the shaders themselves or rendering of the present view. These sit in one core consistently becoming the performance bottle neck of the whole user experience.

              As you said, it's not easy and probably

        • This is no longer the 90's and many computers, even ones that are several years old, are good enough for what they do that the cost of a new PC isn't justified.

          I think the even bigger problem with this stagnation is that we're rapidly reaching the end of Moore's law where it will be physically impossible to fit any more transistors on the die therefore even if the Hz race was still on there is a practical limit to just how fast the current type of processors can run so I suppose engineers are going to have

      • Exactly this. I used to upgrade every time i could get a machine that was 4x faster. I have not really experience anything like that since my core 2 duo. So the machine i got will keep on running until it breaks.

      • ... basically we need a technology that re-enables single threaded performance.

        And we need lower prices. Low prices drove the computer boom, not raw power.

        In the past, process shrinks led to cheaper CPUs. This is not happening any more.

        Tablets/(smart)phones are selling good, because they got cheep. Then their power increased somewhat, and that led two more expensive phones. Beside that, they wear out more quickly and brake more often -- this is what sustains their sales.

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:07PM (#53059163)
      "they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to"

      "I just spent $33k for a dual Xeon, 512 GB, and 4 Telsa K40."

      Microsoft is way ahead of you. They recently came out with Windoze 10, which will suck up all that power just to report your personal life back to the mothership.
      • by rfengr ( 910026 )
        Unfortunately you are correct. I ordered it with Windows Sever 2012, but our IT dept is going to fuck me with Windows 10, after specifically telling me I couldn't use Windows 10 since they didn't support it; only 7. In any case, either is needed to address 512 GB.
    • Sees, I just spent $33k for a dual Xeon, 512 GB, and 4 Telsa K40.

      You must have an interesting use case if buying this much compute power is more cost effective than renting by the minute from AWS. Deep learning? Ray tracing???

      • Re:$$$ Workstations (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:32PM (#53059261)
        EM simulation of millimeter wave antennas and circuits. The tools will probably never run on the cloud.
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @11:11PM (#53059911)

          EM simulation of millimeter wave antennas and circuits.

          Cool. I envy you.

          Well, I have to go. My boss wants me to slightly change the shade of blue behind our company logo on 187 webpages ...

          • by RevDisk ( 740008 )
            That request used to make me weep. Then I sorted out everything with LESS and now it's update one variable.

            Didn't mention that development to anyone tho. I use that time to fix things I badly hacked up when dev was rushed.
        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Doing that on your workstation is frankly as dumb as hell. A compute cluster stuck in a data centre somewhere is a million times more sensible. Oh and before you claim it won't work for you my day job is running a HPC system with thousands of cores and we have users doing exactly what you are doing so try again.

      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        LAN administrator with a budget surplus.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      >> I just spent $33k for a dual Xeon, 512 GB, and 4 Telsa K40

      That was stupid, the P100 will be available any moment.
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/... [anandtech.com]

      K40 (@ $2900) .* 4 = 5.72 Tflops. $11600.
      P100 (@ $5899) * 2 = 9.4 Tflops $11798
      .

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )
        Yes, I'm well aware of that, but the P100 wasn't available in FY16 (corporate funding), and the software I use probably won't support it until FY18. I'll take what I can get.
        • Look, on your next round of funding, remember that some of us still play Crysis and don't have the line into the CFO that you seem to have.

          Don't Bogart that box, my friend.

          • by rfengr ( 910026 )
            The video card is actually one of the lower end Nvidia since it must be single slot width, in order to jam in 4 (double width) Tesla cards. Now it will do 2D N-body simulations, where N is a few million, pretty impressively. Actually probably stinks for gaming.
            • by GNious ( 953874 )

              What if I want proper N-body simulation in my KSP game? ... oh, wait, 2D .. shit ... :)

        • At least you got funding.

          Everyone around here is drooling over "Cloud", any question about CPU power or storage is answered with "cloud". If you ask my opinion we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We had data analytics stacking up daily and were months away from any sort of NDA agreement with a "cloud" vendor.

          I couldn't even talk my boss into a $500 off lease Xeon 2011 to crunch numbers.

    • Re:$$$ Workstations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 12, 2016 @01:08AM (#53060231) Journal

      The problem is they are reading the data incorrectly, they are taking data from a BUBBLE and trying to claim that was the norm when in reality it was no different than the housing bubble, an anomaly that did not reflect the actual state of the market.

      You see the bubble was caused by the "MHz wars" where a PC from a couple year, hell even a year ago at the start of the bubble, simply would not be able to run the latest software because of the insanely quick jumps in MHz. In just one 4 year period during the MHz wars my personal PC went from 400Mhz to 2GHz, 5 times the power in just that small amount of time! The consumer didn't WANT to replace their PCs that often but they did not have a choice because this years software simply ran like ass on last year's machine and probably wouldn't run at all on a PC two years old.

      Now compare this to today, what mainstream software is there out there that won't run on a C2D or Phenom II X2 from 2008? I have a C2Q Media Center PC I use at the shop as my desktop and to do analog to digital video conversion...its got 4 cores, 8Gb of RAM, and a 2TB drive...why would I need to replace it? Even video gaming isn't immune to this as there are plenty of videos (and I have plenty of customers who can back this up) of playing the latest and greatest mainstream games on C2Qs and Phenom II X4s and they play at 1080P just fine, no issues.

      The simple fact is even grandma has the equivalent of a fire breathing funny car for a PC which is spending a good 90% of its time in idle, so what would be the point of replacing it? Before my father passed away last year I looked into replacing his office PC, it was a 2.3Ghz Phenom I quad and I had a batch of newer systems in, surely he needs more power running his office than a PC from 2006, right? After collecting data for 3 months I found in reality most of the cores were parked most of the time and the system never got above 50% utilization...replacement simply was not needed.

      The only reason you are seeing replacement in the ARM space is they are in the middle of their own MHz bubble which I would argue is already coming to an end as they too hit the thermal wall and users find they can't "feel" any difference between that quad core tablet or phone they got 3 years ago and the new octocores sitting on shelves. Bubbles pop folks, what we are seeing is NOT the "end of the PC" but it simply going back to being replaced only when it fails and I have a feeling we will be seeing the popping of the ARM bubble soon and it would have probably already popped if the industry wasn't forcing upgrades by refusing to support their older products.

  • Win10 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @07:53PM (#53059105)

    I'd have to wonder if Windows 10 is helping to cause this slump. People don't want Windows 10, but that's all you can really get for an OS unless you're willing to learn something entirely new. Not an option for the majority really. As a result more people will cling to their older PCs for as long as it'll last. If they aren't using it to play games, it's likely still good enough for what they were doing before.

    • Re:Win10 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:08PM (#53059165)

      I'd have to wonder if Windows 10 is helping to cause this slump.

      Yes. Most people know how the bend over and take ut up the backside updates are screwing their computers up. People have Windows 7 computers that work. Why upgrade to a computer that shits it's pants every update?

    • Re:Win10 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2016 @12:52AM (#53060199)

      I think Windows 10 is causing the slump, but not because people don't want it - it is because they already have it. There has always been a large segment of people who used a new version of Windows as the excuse to buy a new system; either because the OS needed the extra grunt or it was simply deemed to be the easiest way to upgrade for non-techies.

      Along comes Windows 10, which basically threw itself onto everybody's existing systems. All of a sudden, there was no reason to buy new computer. As we all know, recent computer hardware is still fast enough to run average software so the benefit of buying a new system is miniscule.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      For all of its reported problems, it's worked fine for me across two laptops, a NUC and a VM.

      One of the laptops is an Asus Zenbook which replaced an iPad as my couch computer and IMHO, at least, it's been pretty much as simple to use as the iPad was, with good battery life and actually reliable sleep/hibernate.

      I know I'm supposed to get on the anti-Win 10 bus, but with the right settings I don't get Win10 ads or annoyances and I've mostly managed to live with the Win10 start menu without getting too worked

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'd expect Windows 10 to boost sales. A lot of people got unwanted updates that didn't work, and either had to pay to have it fixed or just buy a new computer. People with older machines faced with paying to have them fixed will probably just get a new one.

      Like back in the day how people would throw their Windows XP machines away after a few years* because they got slow.

      * Who am I kidding, a few weeks more like

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @07:55PM (#53059109)
    and she probably coulda kept using her 3 year old i5 but the school gives you grief if the laptops more than a year old. I can't imagine her ever needing a new pc until this one breaks, and with it's overpowered cpu and intel graphics that barely ever get used I'm not expecting it to burn out. Might need a new hard drive in a few years, but that's it.

    Haven't really looked at the power jack. Lenovo's hold up really well. This one's a Toshiba so the jack might die. Barring that it's the last one she'll own until she graduates.
    • by plover ( 150551 )

      My year old Lenovo's power circuit on the mobo fried, not the jack. It cost a lot more to fix. So I'm not feelin' the Lenovo love here.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @09:27PM (#53059525)

      > [T]he school gives you grief if the laptops more than a year old.

      Fuck em. Seriously.

      Are they paying you to provide the laptop? No? Fuck em.

    • the school gives you grief if the laptops more than a year old.

      I'd have sent the kids to school with a DIY PC running FreeBSD and have taught the kids vim and how to launch X. Your IT department's poor decisions are not my fault.

      • Etch-A-Sketch. The ones who figure out that it's not a computer get upgraded to a PIII with 4GB of RAM, and a 27GB HD; when they can make a coherent argument for needing a more modern machine, even if it's unflattering, they will be further upgraded.

        If they break, attempt to eat, or otherwise molest the Etch-A-Sketch, they will be immediately upgraded to an Apple iPod of their choosing, restricted to the guest WiFi network, and barred from entering any IT-related area or speaking to any IT person without a

      • I'd have sent the kids to school with a DIY PC running FreeBSD and have taught the kids vim and how to launch X. Your IT department's poor decisions are not my fault.

        Well, that would teach them that their parent is an asshole who is not to be listened to because of setting them up for failure very early on. Is that your goal? Reduce the calls home?

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      And nobody should need more than 640k.
  • Well, DUH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @07:58PM (#53059121)

    For a lot of people, they can do everything on their phone that they would've done on a desktop/laptop computer a decade ago. Those folks just don't need a computer, period, nowadays. Heck, even though I work in computing I find myself doing email and web browsing on my phone (or tablet) most of the time when I'm away from my office.

    And even those of us who actually do need a computer mostly don't need to keep updating to the latest and greatest hardware anymore. Phil Shiller said it was sad when people are still using five-year-old machines (BTW, Phil, how long has it been since Apple updated a computer? Feels like five years); but in reality the difficulty of the tasks most of us need to do hasn't kept pace with advances in hardware. Swap an SSD into any decent five-year-old laptop and you're probably still golden, unless you're a gamer.

    • Re:Well, DUH (Score:5, Interesting)

      by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:24PM (#53059217) Homepage

      I'm the opposite. Only thing I do on my phone is check contact info for say a business or directions. I'd rather wait till get home or to my shop before I do any computing on my desktop. Even my 17 year old would rather do things on his desktop than on his phone.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        I'm guessing thats entirely down to the ease of use though, I mean if you could use a keyboard/mouse/monitor with your phone hardware running a proper desktop (Linux or Windows), that would be all you'd need?

        • Well that's why I have a laptop in my car (Running Mint) and just set up a hot spot with my phone. I could possibly have some use for a pad but not going to spend money on a system that I have limited control unless I root it.

        • Well at that point you've kind of blurred the line between a phone and a laptop with a cellular radio.

          Either way though, my phone can't drive my 2560x1440 external monitor, and doesn't have large enough screen for much work, doesn't have as much storage, has much slower storage, much less RAM and a slower CPU than even my ageing laptop. So, I'd say that while I could use my phone for more stuff if it ran a full desktop OS (i.e. GNU/Linux) and had a keyboard and mouse, it still would be a bit mediocre.

    • Yep. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm different. I still use a dumbphone (very much on purpose, too. It has talk, text, calendar. That is *all* I need, and I save a bundle on my no-data plan, and if the phone falls in a river, I am out $20 instead of $400-$600).

      I remain convinced that people think they need connectivity a whole hell of a lot more than they do. Seriously...most of us work on an internet-connected computer all day and have internet-connected devices (other than the phone) at home too. Those few brief moments during which

      • I remain convinced that people think they need connectivity a whole hell of a lot more than they do.

        I think you're correct, and I've told myself I should make myself regularly spend some of my time "disconnected"... but being always connected is almost like a drug, and I've been unable to break the habit. Kudos to you, sir (Seriously).

        Actually I've heard a psychologist speculate that the constant stimulation of the current world might actually be bad for us physically - at least according to her, it's very much like being in fight-or-flight mode all the time.

        • Actually I've heard a psychologist speculate that the constant stimulation of the current world might actually be bad for us physically - at least according to her, it's very much like being in fight-or-flight mode all the time.

          I agree, it's like where all chased and have to constantly perform and be available.

  • You can take my PC from my cold, dead hands. Over my dead body!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."

    How can they claim the overall PC market is down 16% when they've excluded a significant segment that's seen year-over-year growth from that statistic?

  • hate these studies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:03PM (#53059145)
    I hate these studies, they always seem to neglect the changing face of PC's. PC's require upgrades at far less frequent rates, a 3, 4 or 5 year old machine will work perfectly well for the majority of users, this doesn't mean PC usage has declined or something has superceded it, it simply means the technology in PC's has now far exceeded the needs of the average user allowing them to keep their machine far longer than ever before and hence a decreased annual sales of PC's
    • it's about sales. Sales going down kinda sucks, because it means prices will go up for those who still want a pc.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @10:21PM (#53059735)

      In the US it is getting to the point that nearly everyone has a computer. Even people who are pretty poor usually already have a computer. Probably not a great one, but they have one. There is market saturation. So when everyone has one, and the pace of hardware has slowed so you don't need a new one as often, well ya sales are going to go down. The market is mature. That happens to markets in the long run, they can't grow forever.

      I get tired of this attitude that some journalists (and investors) have that the only states are "growth" and "death". No, industries can be mature, stable, lots and lots are. That's what's happening in computers.

      • I think one of the truly interesting things will be when this happens to smartphones in the next couple of years. We are now getting to the point where speed, storage and performance of a smartphone is going to be good enough for several years at least. I wonder if when people move to 2 year or 3 year cycles with phones (which seems inevitable) if these same journalists are going to be yelling about the tragic impending death of smartphones or will they finally pull their head out of their arse and try to u
  • PCs have plateaued for a while now, and it lacks an unified marketing strategy, that's why.
    You see, for smartphones you either have Android or iOS. iOS is a single platform with a single line of phones that is always planning what's next and has a following that can only be described as rabid right now.
    But even Android has a more or less unified upgrade strategy, planned or not. The stuff that came out for Android this year was mid range phones getting high end specs, a mod-like strategy that kinda backfire

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What a load of HORSESHIT. PC's have plateaued due to performance requirements of the end user, it has fucking nothing to do with some mystical unified strategy. Their is no easy path for PC makers to recover ANY ground, most users have a PC that meets their needs, it is not like a smartphone where you must have a new one every year. In fact we have hit the point where you can go for longer than 5 years without replacing a PC. It used to be yearly, then 18 months, 2 years, 3 years. Now we are at a point whe
  • in 2012, I bought a ASUS G75VX-DH72 with an Intel core I7 3630QM 16G (±3ghz) 256SSD + 500G 17.3 (full HD) with a NVIDIA GTX 870M Windows 8 for $1,700
    I upgrade the HD for 1tb ssd and 2tb hdd 2 years ago (and obviously, I have w10 and Linux on it)

    Today, 4.5 year later, I can buy a
    ASUS G752VL Intel Core i7 6700HQ (±3ghz) , Windows Home 10 64-Bit, 16GB , 1TB HDD, 17.3" IPS FHD Display, NVIDIA GTX 965M for 1800$

    Yeah, right, Why I need a upgrade ?

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Gaming and VR. If you don't do those, you don't need an upgrade.

      • I game quite nicely on a Core 2 Quad. Of course I don't really have any desire for VR, though. It's just not my cup of tea. I've not done FPSes since Quake 1. Quake 2 made me nauseous. (Something about that engine that made me want to hurl.) Nothing beats Galactic Civilizations 2 (or Alpha Centauri) for me. :) I like the "new, shiny" Civs, but the old school stuff is just great for me. And couple that with Worms:Armageddon and I'm in turn-based heaven. Still, I don't begrudge people wanting the latest an

  • When you've been shipping value PCs for the last 40 quarters with 5400 RPM hard drives, etc., etc., and that costs 2-4 times as much as a tablet which has solid statish memory, you've kind of made the argument against your 'premium' product. We call that penny-wise, pound-foolish.

  • Assuming you're not a gamer and represent the majority who's only use for a home PC is surfing the net, reading emails and opening the odd word document, your 10 year old home PC is still more than fine (as long as you haven't let Microsoft screw you over with automated downgrades), and has probably never even hit more than about 20% CPU and memory utilization..

    Really the only significant groups of people who still have a need to keep their hardware at least fairly up to date are gamers and VR users. Those

    • Science and engineering will always have applications that require more computing power than is available.In EE, for example, SPICE and Verilog runs can take a day or more for circuits of moderate complexity. 100 times faster computers would merely be an improvement, not a solution, and it seems unlikely that we'll ever see that much of a speed boost.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      DirectX 12, full support for todays games. The ability to fully use one next gen gpu on Windows 10 with a new game.
      No more big PSU, 2 hot, loud cards in SLI, hoping for a new beta driver to finally get to full resolution.
      For many its just the ability to max out setting on a new must have game and click DirectX 12 in settings.
      The next push will be maxed out 4K and VR. Physical reactions to VR long term could be different for a lot of people given the cheap, rushed early games.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:32PM (#53059265) Homepage

    My wife, who is sort of the idea non-techie user--follow directions, does virus scans, etc. is almost ready to abandon her Windows PC and see how well she can get by with an iPad. She is just totally ticked off at Microsoft. She bought a Windows PC with Windows 8 preinstalled, to avoid any possible upgrade hassles.

    She found Windows 8 disturbingly close unusable, but gritted her teeth and started to learn it. Windows 8.1 managed to change enough things to be disorienting, without actually be an improvement. Then her PC was twice rendered unbootable by routine updates--in one case it seemed to be a case of dueling updates between Microsoft and HP, another time it was a faulty update that autoinstalled. (In both cases the "solution" was to boot in safe mode and roll back to the previous checkpoint).

    Then came the forced Windows 10 upgrade, which again managed to change enough things to make the system harder for her to use without really improving anything.

    Somewhere along the way the bloatware program she used to manage her photo library, which had come preinstalled and automatically associated to jpg files, so she was seduced into using it, stopped being compatible with Windows.

    I think 10 to 10.1 has been painless, though.

    The whole user experience of moving from Windows 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 has been so badly mismanaged that it is easy to see why anyone who isn't forced to use Windows might abandon it for a tablet.

  • by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:38PM (#53059287)

    Because I won't buy pre-made..

    I build a beast every 7 years or so. The one I'm using to post is only 6 months old and my first venture into liquid cooling.

    But the previous posters sorta made that clear, if you aren't gaming or actually stressing the system - then a ten year old laptop is all you really need for email and reading web pages. I just wish they knew if they went into task scheduler, and stopped all the craptastic stuff M$ was doing on their system that their PC or laptop is actually a lot faster than it seems.

    I make some good side cash just getting rid of the tasks and "fixing" peoples older pcs.

    • for a big enough discount. But I take a hit on quality (cheap mobo, cheap ram, cheap power supply) for about the same price. Yeah, that wouldn't be true if I had to buy Windows everytime, but I'm using the same Win7 license for 5 years now. Didn't help they gave me Win10 for free. Or that I can reuse my power supply, Hard Drive & case. It's $400-$500 for a top 'o the line CPU/Board/Ram upgrade or $700 for a good CPU on a meh board.
    • by Nethead ( 1563 )

      I'm lucky, we just did a refresh at work an I have more Core2 and i5 Enterprise HP SFF desktops than I know what to do with. We kept the two dozen or so i7 boxes for ourselves and friends. We gave away to the employees all the Core2 and i5 machines, I still have a two sitting in my car that no one wants. The i7 boxes we loaded with 32GB of RAM and SSD drives to make into ESXi lab boxes.

      The Core2 and i5 HP boxes with 12 to 24GB of RAM and Quadro 600 video (that's how we ordered them) are good for another

  • by btroy ( 4122663 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @08:48PM (#53059329)
    If the PC industry gets smart and goes with SSD's in their "powerful" machines and get that video card up to VR ready, you'll see people exchanging out. VR is going to be the next power drive.
    • Unfortunately comes with a hardware dongle that's not really advertised. It's a room with enough free space to not break break a limb or get a concussion flailing about in a physical environment that doesn't match the one being presented to your eyes and ears. Kids and pets are also incompatible accessories.

      If VR ever gets a non-trivial adoption the Wii-mote and Kinect injuries of yesteryear will seem quaint. We'll look back on the halcyon days before our TBIs from running into furniture or ducking below a

      • Need to start investing on developing a serious MMI for VR to go ANYWHERE.

        In it's current state, it's at best a novelty.

        When I can put on a VR headsit and my body just lounges in a chair while I explore some virtual world, then I'll be interested. This business of hooking up sensors and crap to your hands and feet and flailing about in a room like some fool? No.

        When putting on VR headseat makes you appear to go into a coma to everyone around you while you have a grand time, then we're there.

  • Weirdos buy PCs. Most people are now able to get most of their computing needs out of their phones or tablets. If they need something more, a 10 year old PC or laptop will do fine. You can surf, watch videos, download, print, and game a bit.

    Then there are the "power" users who are doing a bit of video editing who need a newer laptop. But for us few weirdos, we need CUDA, or we need 10TB in hard drives, or we like that we can fix any one part cheaper than if that same part died in a laptop. Oh yeah, there
  • I bought this Dell XPS 8300 about 4 or 5 years ago... and it still does everything I ask of it, without issue. I upgraded to SSD, and have gone through a couple GPU's, but the system itself is a rock. Of course you're going to see a decline in sales when systems you buy today aren't really any better than ones we were getting 5 years ago. Feels like we've hit a ceiling or something for desktops. And currently, it's not an issue, cuz what we have is running what we want without issue. Age old saying: If

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @10:25PM (#53059751)
    Got divorced a few years ago, when I moved my PC the power supply went nuts and took my motherboard with it. Transferred the contents of the hard drive to my laptop, bought a PS3, and learned to love gaming in my la-z-boy with my cat in my lap. Granted, FPS aren't as good. Granted, there are no strategy turn by turn games out there (beat Civ Revolution couple years ago). I will completely admit gaming on my ps3 is nowhere near as good at it was on my desktop. On the other hand, I'm in a comfy la-z-boy with a content cat in my lap, on a 42" monitor 4 feet away, and that has to count for something.
  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @11:40PM (#53060025)

    Are declines in PC sales in any way surprising? Frost the past decade and a half a larger and larger portion of PC sales have been laptops. Schools from junior high through college practically (or actually) demand them. The proliferation of WiFi means just about anywhere with a roof is going to offer some internet connectivity. Besides ubiquitous internet access laptops have gotten way more consumer friendly by getting ever cheaper and lighter. For just about everyone a laptop is the form factor to buy.

    For most of the past 15-16 years laptops were getting faster CPUs or way better GPUs every two years or so. Battery life didn't improve much but at least the machines got more powerful. The past 5-6 years though the landscape has changed. Fewer laptops ship with discrete GPUs as Intel's have increased in capability. Even low end laptops have SSDs and 8+ gigabytes of RAM. The usable lifespan of laptops has increased significantly. Even a change from an average of two to three years means fewer sales for manufacturers. There's a non-trivial portion of the laptop market that's seeing a replacement cycle of over three years.

    In addition the sort of things people needed a laptop for ten years ago can be as effectively or more effectively done on a phone or tablet. Android and iOS tablets beat the shit out of Windows tablets and 2-in-1s because hey aren't saddled with a heavyweight OS that honestly is not designed to turn on and go and then back off just as easily.

    Billions of smartphones and many millions of tablets have definitely sucked the oxygen out of the room for traditional PCs. With PCs not "needing" more regular upgrades is choking the PC industry. The PC market is saturated and is not likely to grow again. Emerging markets are not a savior because they don't have the same infrastructure as developed markets. They aren't going through a dial-up landline internet connected to a beige box phase. They're going right to smartphones, tablets, and other highly mobile devices that fit better in their infrastructure.

  • by orlanz ( 882574 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2016 @11:48PM (#53060055)

    PCs and laptops are a commodity. Either the industry doesn't know this or doesn't understand the meaning of it. I am talking about the general market, not the DCs, gaming rigs, or cloud computing. Commodities don't fund your expansions, setup new factories, nor pump your stock price up. They keep the lights on, employees paid+benefits, factories humming at an efficient pace, and fund regular dividends. In a commodity situation you make money from volume, brand, services, and driving internal costs down!

    The industry players need to figure this out, especially the last part! Stop trying to be the BMW of laptops. Try to think like Toyota, but really you should be thinking like toothbrush makers. Think about the value BMWs would have if the engine, chaissis, interior design, breaks, tires, and electronics systems were all developed by single industry wide suppliers. BMW would design the exterior look, the headlights, and stick that circle on there. That is basically the PC market!

    And yet, each of these idiots spend tons of money redesigning the look and feel of the laptops at least every 3 years. They take standard interfaces, rearrange them to make prior peripherals obsolete. That means money for R&D, QA, factory retooling, replacement parts inventory management, new end user HowTos, support retraining, redoing logistics & sourcing, present model inventory write offs, peripheral redesign, marketing, and sales training.

    All that is a massive internal cost that can be completely avoided if they just stuck to a conservative design philosophy where they continued to just improve what they have. This will also help with aftermarket resale, which is a good thing in terms of customer loyalty. Think how old the Toyota automatic window opener is. That small part has been around for a good 15 years! Think how long the power button has been around on the Lenova's!!

    That is the level of cost cutting these providers need to follow. They need to become like toothbrush makers. They need to switch from macro design changes to micro ones. Such things as heat flow management, battery life, port placement, standard peripherals, serviceability, etc.

    Till then they will continue to lament the shrinking market and wonder how to stay afloat.

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2016 @12:50AM (#53060189)

    Perhaps not valid for the US, but here in Southern Europe the economic situation is such that it makes it very difficult to buy new PCs. We do want to upgrade, we just do not have the money.

  • At present, I could not recommend a new pc over a refurbished ex pro Windows 7 machine from 5 years ago for things other than gaming, unless the person has a _lot_ to spend, so that Windows 10 will be useable. That Microsoft insisted on ramming so much into the Windows interface without the option of a lean, clean, simple OS that only does what I need to, more so than Windows 7, means you need to spend a lot to get an enjoyable user experience if you're someone who enjoys actually getting stuff done, rather than going 'wow! Shiny thing!'. The way manufacturers differentiate themselves with incompatible crapware that most people don't have (so there is no longer a shared experience with friends who have PCs). 1000s of companies are all trying to get a niche monopoly cash cow that they control, and in doing so we have ended up with a Balkanised industry of companies all concerned primarily with defending their territory, and the users needs are an afterthought. The potential of modern computing has gone from optimistic dream to a nightmare of annoyance, and users are tired of this. The fault is with the industry, and they have earned this downturn by taking the market and their customers for granted, preferring to structure things to chase short term profit. Users then must do the same, picking and choosing from a bad bunch of options, knowing how industry behaves. A weird kind of quasi-Nash-equilibrium that serves almost nobody that well.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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