Windows what? PC makers have bigger things on their minds

Remember those days when OSes were the be-all and end-all?

Canalys Forums With minds fixed on PC shortages and the next looming round of price hikes, there was nary a mention of Microsoft's freshly laid OS by the biggest vendors and resellers at this year's Canalys Forums EMEA 2021 gabfest.

Windows 11 was unleashed on the world this week to a mixed reaction, with internal improvement overshadowed by weighty system requirements. Yet in years gone by, a new OS was celebrated as a potential sales extravaganza.

At the conference, senior execs from the three biggest PC makers – Lenovo, HP and Dell – took to the virtual stage and not one of them talked about Windows 11. Their focus instead was logistics, product availability and the like.

"There is so much demand for PCs still," Canalys CEO Steve Brazier told The Reg, "that actually the market doesn't need any additional stimulus. And it will be difficult to measure the impact of Win 11 on the PC market, because sales are constrained by shortages."

The sector is still playing catch-up 18 months after the pandemic forced lockdowns across much of the West and the PC suddenly became the centre of everyone's universe. Global sales subsequently surged to highs in 2020 not seen in decade.

HP CEO Enrique Lores said in August that the company’s backlog was "close to one full quarter" of sales and Dell CFO Tom Sweet said it was facing "unprecedented demand that is way ahead of supply right now".

So is a new OS no longer the drive it once was? "I don't believe so no, I don't believe so," a Lenovo channel exec for EMEA told us.

Their Lenovo colleague quickly chipped in to say the "whole context is somewhat different at the moment".

They added: "Normally a new OS is required to give a boost in the stimulus … if you think back to the timing of some of the previous launches, that was an era when people said the PC was dead. And I think we're far from an era where the PC is dead. You could argue we don't need the stimulus right now, we have demand way, way outstripping supply."

According to IDC in August, PC shipments are estimated to grow 14.2 per cent in 2021 to 347 million units. This was lower than the 18 per cent forecast in May with supply not able to meet demand.

"The lengthening of the supply shortages combined with ongoing logistical issues are presenting the industry with some big challenges. However, we believe the vast majority of PC demand is non-perishable, especially from the business and education sectors," said Ryan Reith, program veep for IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers.

Canalys senior analyst Ishan Dutt pointed out at the virtual conference that normal refresh cycles will resume in the longer term with "low single digit" percentage rises predicted.

"However, the installed base has ballooned over the last 18 months, and the opportunity around upgrading PCs and attaching peripherals and services has become bigger than ever before."

Perhaps when normal play resumes talk will again turn to OSes, and no doubt corporate customers will decide to migrate to Windows 11 over the next few years. And maybe by the time Windows 12 lands, it'll be able to take centre stage and be required to do what its predecessors once did: help Microsoft make bank and give the PC industry a lift.

It just doesn't need one at the moment. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022