Windows XP refresh will DO NOTHING for lame PC market next year

Gartner warns consumer will need to help out

The XP refresh provided the boon that computer makers and their respective channel suppliers clung to following a period of lean sales, but the majority of replacement have now taken place.

This is according to market beanie Gartner, which estimates 70 per cent of the 30 million installed based of machines across Western Europe that ran on the 13-year old OS, have now been swapped out

“When the market was weaker, XP certainly provided a much needed uptick,” research director Ranjit Atwal to El Chan.

“But we are starting to see a slowing down of the replacement cycle,” he added, “as XP disappears there needs to be a bigger pick-up in consumer [to counter a general slowdown].”

XP still had a 27 per cent share of the Windows market on its deathbed in April, when Microsoft shuttered support for the software. It seems customers weren’t keen to move, certainly not to the latest version.

In the subsequent months, tech distributors and the largest resellers noted a PC sales rebound as customers realised the expense of extended support and the potential risk of running unsupported machines.

Small businesses have been “more erratic” in terms of swapping their machines, the Gartner man said, and he believed this area was where the channel could continue to tap into replacement cycles.

XP seemed to be lingering problem for the public sector, with the Met carrying more than 85k systems running on the OS and HMRC with over 38k. Local councils have also been slow to upgrade.

At the recent Canalys Channels Forum, HP CEO Meg Whitman described the PC industry as a “delightful business after a couple of really tough years” and said part of this was due to XP, an improving economy and the emergence of form factors, many of which are now more affordable.

She reckons the industry has “another six to eight months of the XP refresh”, but expects the Windows Server 2003 replacement cycle to be as dramatic. ®

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