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So, Windows 8.1 to give PC sales a shot in arm? BZZZZT, wrong answer

Last-hope slab-tops too pricey and heavy to see off Apple, Android fondlepads

Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update and the rise of tablet-cum-laptop PCs may boost sales for the software titan and its hardware-making pals - but it won't happen anytime soon.

Or so predicts IT distribution channel beancounter Canalys in its global shipment forecast for 2013: the analysts estimates little more than 493 million PCs will be flogged this year.

Broken down, that equates to 105 million desktops, a drop of 5.4 per cent on 2012; 206.5m notebooks, representing a decline of 12.1 per cent; and 114.6 million slabs, indicating growth of 59.2 per cent.

As world + dog knows, the new touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 operating system failed to live up to its billing. Microsoft expected it to usher in a new era of notebook-cum-tab fondling, but that hasn't happened.

"These convertible products have disappointed so far," said James Wong, an analyst at Canalys.

These convertible laptop-fondleslab computers are expected to make up just two per cent of the market this year, we're told.

"Convertibles are too heavy in tablet form and too expensive when compared with clamshell products," Wong added. His research firm reckons that for the next 18 months, consumers will not "compromise on a Windows 8 convertible or hybrid".

As previously revealed by The Channel, the lack of suitable touch-driven devices dampened the launch of Windows 8 late last year. The hardware manufacturers forecast sales cautiously due to concerns that the Microsoft-specified gear would gather dust thanks to the relatively high price tags.

Microsoft then pulled excuses out of its hat to explain slow sales of Windows 8 PCs, citing the weak economy, the success of rival tab OSes and an ambitious user-interface redesign.

With the Windows 8.1 update around the corner - it is set to launch on 26 June - Canalys said Microsoft must tackle the the criticisms levelled at the new Metro user interface, or it will lose even more ground to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

Canalys predicts that 713.8 million PCs will be sold in 2017, chalking up a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7 per cent, but tablets are driving this and are estimated to account for 456.1 million units, a CAGR of 25.7 per cent.

In the same forecast period, 171.9 million notebooks are expected to be shipped, a decline of 4.4 per cent year-on-year, and 85.8 million desktops, a drop of 4.9 per cent. ®

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