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Why PC Sales Are Declining

timothy posted 1 year,7 days | from the people-pretty-satisfied-mostly-for-the-price dept.

Businesses 564

First time accepted submitter Benedick writes "I have a four year old desktop and a three year old notebook. Why haven't I upgraded to a new machine? Because they still work great. PC sales aren't declining because of Windows 8. They are declining because our PCs are so good, they last a lot longer. Will Oremus of Slate explains it better than I can."

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564 comments

Reason number one. (4, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436907)

Windows 8.

That really makes no sense (1, Interesting)

macbeth66 (204889) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436955)

The last laptop I bought, was for my mother for Christmas. I bought an additional 500GB drive for it, swapped the drives and installed Ubuntu. Machine fine. Mother fine. Windows 8 ... ummm... I guess I can use the drive it came on as a backup someday.

Re:That really makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437147)

That's what I call double boot the hardwayre

Re:That really makes no sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437173)

I used the serial number of mine to install a VM under parallels. (Had to call up M$, but hey!) Not like I use it, but it's there just incase, along with Plan 9 and OS/2.

Re:That really makes no sense (5, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437267)

Windows 8 ... ummm... I guess I can use the drive it came on as a backup someday.

Microsoft loves you as a customer. You bought their product and trashed it, thus making it not necessary for them to support you. (Not that they would ever do such a thing.) Microsoft only cares about the number of units sold, and you contributed to that.

I used to buy prebuilt boxes (HP, Dell, Acer) with Win7, and I used them as they are, with Win7 OS. But if I am required to buy Win8 when I need another box I will instead buy parts and build a PC this way - something I haven't done for a long, long time. TigerDirect still sells Win7 OEM packages [tigerdirect.com], but for many of my needs Linux will do just fine. Or I will raise an odd, old P4 box from the dead - as matter of fact, one is on my bench right now, loud and hot as they used to build them in 2007 or so. But it's free. Will install some Linux on it for a simple server duty.

Re:Reason number one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436999)

Yeah im sure its just windows 8, not iphone, android, ipad, nexus 7, etc...

Re:Reason number one. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437021)

PC sales would go up if consoles didn't exist, since many triple A titles are made for both consoles and PC they often lack the high fidelity graphics our PC's are truly capable of, and thus we have no need to buy a new PC.

Re:Reason number one. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437129)

PC sales would go up if consoles didn't exist, since many triple A titles are made for both consoles and PC they often lack the high fidelity graphics our PC's are truly capable of, and thus we have no need to buy a new PC.

Only a hardcore gamer would think like this.

Many PC gamers just upgrade hardware, new CPU, more memory, bigger graphics card. OS upgrade is a bit of a leap, especially when you already have a load of toys installed.

Re:Reason number one. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437025)

windows 8 sucks... and pc's are still lasting the same amount of time.. roughly 5 years before its obsolete or dead.... OP is dumb for stating this.

Re: Reason number one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437285)

My main home machine is a core duo iMac from early 2006. I do have a much newer laptop but there is no material difference for day to day use, including the running of a Windows Server VM for eval and testing. I use the iMac pretty much exclusively in the house as a result.

In my 30 years of computing, I've never had a machine this old which I don't feel is holding me back in any way. BTW, I'm not blind to what a new machine is like...I have an i7 3.4' 32gb ram and SSD drive in the office.

Re:Reason number one. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437065)

What a fucking lame troll. Naturally the Slashdot cocksucker machine thinks this stupidity is informative.

Re:Reason number one. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437077)

Windows 8 is kind of like getting your naughty bits pierced. At first it hurts like hell, but once you use it for a while, you begin to take really like it.

Re:Reason number one. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437217)

And then the infections start appearing.

Re:Reason number one. (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437111)

Windows 8.

I don't get every version. I tend to sit on the fence and see how newer versions sort out. Perhaps I get to see them at work. I avoided Vista as there were so many things wrong with it. Windows 7 looked like what Vista should have been. Windows 8 has raised too many questions and we're not getting it at work, staying with Windows 7 machines.

Also, as I've said for the past coulple years, the PC is overkill for many people who just want email, social stuff, simple games, they get a phone or tablet for that now.

Re:Reason number one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437181)

Actually I thought the reasoning in the article made perfect sense -- it's exactly why I haven't bought a new PC myself. It's not that I wouldn't like one, but I really don't need it. It's only a Core Duo 1.86GHz with 4GB of RAM, granted, but it runs everything I want it to now, including recent games (Just Cause 2 is hilarious :) ). Unless you're a hardcore gamer there's little incentive to replace your computer every few years any more, the one you have does the job perfectly...I guess there just aren't enough hardcore gamers left to support it any more. A shame really, PC gaming is where a lot of us got our start of course!

Re:Reason number one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437213)

Apple PC and laptop sales had almost the same decline. i did not know they sell Windows 8 PCs!

Value-added resellers (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437351)

You won't find them in an Apple Retail Store or on Apple.com, but I'm told a lot of local Mac dealers sell Macs with Windows OEM already installed in Boot Camp.

Re:Reason number one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437295)

Windows whatever-version-they're-on has jack shit to do with my relative lack of computer purchases. I have an uber-beast of a multiple-core high-end supercomputer that I'm typing on right now, and even though this .. er .. Atom .. was made in 2009 it's still plenty computer enough. I keep wanting to upgrade and keep failing to find the justification for it.

Re:Reason number one. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437309)

Windows 8 probably isn't helping but five years of un- and underemployment being deep into the double digits is the biggest factor.

Re:Reason number one. (5, Interesting)

Strudelkugel (594414) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437355)

Windows 8.

It may be fun and easy to bash Windows 8, but I don't think that is the reason. It's fine. When I see the metro desktop after logging in, it just looks like the menu was automatically opened on Win 7. That's not such a big deal. Once you have organized your app icons, though, it is really no different than clicking on one in the taskbar or the desktop. I find it inconsequential from that perspective, but you also get the live tiles and new apps, some of which are useful. Windows 8 is not the fiasco that Vista was, with its required hunt for drivers. On a multi-monitor setup, I can have the metro UI pop-up on any monitor, which is useful at times. Most of the time I am in the desktop. but I really don't notice switching between metro and the desktop. I run Windows 7 in a VM as an attempt to isolate the email, Flash, etc, and browsing risks. I am impressed with the performance if Hyper-V, but not happy that you can't mount USB drives or burn CDs from the VM. Hopefully that will be fixed in the future.

If I think of my own hardware purchases, it's easy to understand why PC sales are declining - tablets and phones. I by a new PC or motherboard about once every 7 years. I just bought a new PC after upgrading my mb about 7 years ago. I put it in a case that is 10 years old now. Since buying that last mb, I bought:

  • iMac
  • MBP
  • 2 iPads, sold one
  • iPod
  • 2 smartphones
  • Windows laptop

I am going to sell the iMac and Windows laptop soon. I'm interested in a Chromebook and some sort of Win 8 laptop. I am sure all of the above will be replaced by the time I upgrade my PC again, part of which is due to how its speed is now more than sufficient for almost everything I do. Eventually I expect my hardware mix to be a powerful desktop, a cloud-centric tablet/laptop, and a phone, with the latter two being replaced much more frequently than the desktop. Note also that it is easier to upgrade desktop hardware, so the replacement cycle is longer for PCs. Tablet and phone hardware improves much more noticeably with each new model at the moment. The same isn't true for PCs. That is what is slowing PC sales, not Windows 8, IMHO.

If it ain't broke.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436909)

PC makers better start building 2-year logic bombs into their products if they want to keep selling all the time.

Re:If it ain't broke.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437247)

just like apple did in the late 90's

oh your 2 year old mac is doing fine? OK heres os 9.22, everyone will be using it, except for you cause we told our installer to specificly ignore anything less than our brand new shiny G3, pay up or fuck off

or in the mid 2000's

oh you just bought a G5 OK we switched to intel, pay up or fuck off

Re:If it ain't broke.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437313)

They're still doing that with intel hardware.

Written by a non-cat-owner (5, Funny)

HBBisenieks (2884173) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436911)

Obviously. I don't know anything that can kill a computer better than a few feline-induced keystrokes.

Re:Written by a non-cat-owner (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437165)

Fire, swimming pools, hot tubs, lava, shotguns, Gallagher, cannons, M80s, trebuchets, toddlers, flame throwers, tanks, grandmothers, that fat gamer dude, gorillas, tornadoes, ninjas, wood chippers... well, you get the idea. In fact, when it comes to destroying a computer kittehs are not anywhere near the top ten.

Re:Written by a non-cat-owner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437289)

Whatever you say, Freakazoid.

Re:Written by a non-cat-owner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437371)

My wife with a coffee cup.

If they lasted longer... (1, Insightful)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436915)

Why have computers not stopped after I built my AM5x86? It still functions today and can still surf the web. It's on its second AT PSU though.

Still, crappy logic, especially when OEM computers are designed to have a short lifespan to spur sales of newer models.

Re:If they lasted longer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436929)

GTFO faggot.

The folks who want the latest stuff just build it (3, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436937)

It used to be that the average user would replace their desktops every few years for something newer. The aforementioned "longer lasting system" trend - my husband's laptop is well over five years old and shows little signs of age - combines with the fact that PC enthusiasts build their systems, lovingly hand picking components or starting with a kit and slapping whatever OS they have lying around on it. (I have at least two OEM Windows 7 licenses kicking around from various systems.

There are still people who will pay oodles of money for a pre-built machine, but most of those folks have migrated over to the Mac platform by now.

Re:The folks who want the latest stuff just build (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437265)

PC enthusiast market is dying. Intel plans on having motherboard manufactures solder the CPU directly to the PCB. High end CPU to high end motherboard. Low end CPU to low end motherboard. About the only system you can come close to building on your own in the future will have to be workstation/server class hardware. That means expensive Xeons. God knows what AMD will do. And then there's the whole Windows OS being abandoned as we know it in favor of a tablet OS (Win8).

Serious question. Where does that leave nVidia? The market has been shifting toward mobile low-powered devices for a long time. That, and Intel's integrated video sub-system is butter smooth in 2d, and good enough for 3d. Commodity video hardware is dead. Thank Intel for that. Their high-end will still be niche enterprise market though.

As for the future of gaming? Phones, Tablets, Consoles including newer generations of Apple TV (Pippin reincarnated) , and mini-itx platforms would be my guess.

Lasting A Lot Longer You Say? (2)

Improbus (1996348) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436945)

I'll say, most of my company's employees are using 10 year old Gateway SFF Pentium 4 boxes running Windows XP. What is really scarey is that they are connecting to Novell servers (NOVELL!!!) that are even older than their desktops for file storage. I want to cry every morning when I go to work in the IT department for the shame of it.

Re:Lasting A Lot Longer You Say? (2)

solidraven (1633185) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437043)

Nothing wrong with netware and pentium 4s. The former's stability record might only come in danger once somebody bothers to leave NetBSD running for over a decade. And the latter is one of the most efficient ways to convert electricity to heat, no need for central heating when you have a pentium 4!

Re:Lasting A Lot Longer You Say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437045)

My congratulations to your companys IT team (10 years ago) for accomplishing an IT package that has operated solidly for 10 years.
My denigration to the current IT team for not being able to provide a convincing business case for newer, faster more efficient systems.

  It would be my expectation that it would be trivial to replace current P4 systems with atom or amd e series with low end ssds and save a small fortune in power bills, and ending up with systems that are faster.
On the server side ... wow ... might wait for all the arm based servers to hit the market. I can only assume these servers are file servers or Web servers.

Re:Lasting A Lot Longer You Say? (2)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437205)

As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke don't fix it!". The reason people migrated to Windows NT from Novell was not because the server was better, it was because of marketing hype. When my small company back in the day migrated from 1 Novell server to NT we had to put in 4 to do the same job. We kept hearing how it was cheaper than Novell, but we had to buy Anti-Virus software, backup software that worked, pay extra for user licenses or face the wrath of the BSA, and buy bigger and faster computers for every new product that was released (or add servers). All of that quickly dwarfed what we paid to Novell, but the brass kept hearing how cheap and good Windows was, and feared the costs of moving back to Novell. Probably more, they feared having to admit they were wrong to waste money trying to migrate in the first place.

I never supported Windows after the initial fiasco of NT4 was released and have supported exclusively Unix/Linux since.

Windows may have come a long way since then, but the costs have never reduced either. Now, we have huge budget deficits in the private sector as well as the public sector.

Be happy you have something that works so well! And use that knowledge to your advantage. There is good money to be made consulting for Novell experts.

Ban the Space Heater (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436953)

It's not just about faster. Smaller, more efficient, easier to transport are all good reasons to upgrade if you have the means. Beside, the grim reaper of hardware is always clawing at your door. Nice box you have there, I'd hate for something like a busted water pipe or lightning strike to carry it to the other side.

Re:Ban the Space Heater (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437115)

With XP that takes 4 minutes to boot up and that shiny ugly METRO box, I think most users will just stick with XP instead.

It works! I know I wont upgrade until the start button is back. Windows 7 here for life! XP users seem very content and if you go to www.wired.com you can see the rage and anger by these XP users. Maybe they are right?

Agreed! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436963)

No question; I'm reasonably tech-savvy but not a "gamer" -- I use Autocadd, Adobe products, M-Soft Office products, A/B PLC programming software, and various other engineering-related utilities. When M-Soft came out with Office 2003, it was apparent right then and there that in my lifetime, I'd never have any compelling reason to upgrade, and sure enough I've not seen one yet; same holds true for PC's -- they got fast enough about 5 years ago, that I just can't fathom ever spending big money for upgrades, given the very marginal improvements. I don't appreciate the way M-Soft forces obsolescence by ceasing support, but from a practical standpoint, the only "support" required is to fight against virus attacks that exploit flaws in the original O/S, for which I presumably already paid for. It would make sense for the government to mandate that operations like M-Soft MUST PROVIDE perhaps 20 years of support; just like they require car makes to provide (I think) 15 years of spare parts availability.

Re:Agreed! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437001)

"15 years of spare parts availability." sounds great i am ready for my 10,000 dollar copy of windows for workgroups

What about gamers (5, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436965)

back in the day, not everybody had a PC. Gamers and engineers and other hardcore users comprised a larger % of the PC market. These users tend to upgrade often to run the latest Doom at max 640x480 resolution with all options on.

Nowadays everybody, i mean EVERYBODY has a pc, even the village idiot and 98 year old grandmas. All they do is check facebook, google maps, and send some email. These users do fine with 5 year old pcs. The hardcore users are a tiny percentage of the market now.

btw TFS is not quite right, the old machines weren't of lesser quality... my old 486 ran great for 10 years and it was still working when I threw it out.

Re:What about gamers (3, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436985)

You don't even need a new PC to play games. My going on 3 year old PC was bought to play games, and it plays everything coming out at max or near max settings. Clearly no need to upgrade there.

My six year old *Vista* PC is now what my wife uses when she wants to play a game. Although it can't play at max settings anymore, we still haven't found a game that it can't actually play reasonably well. Again, no particular need to upgrade there.

Games being cross platform has meant they need to deal with the pathetically low specs on the current consoles, which combined with games being stuck being compiled for x86 and DX9 to work in XP means you just don't need new hardware like you used to.

Re:What about gamers (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437259)

I'm a gamer and my PC is quite old. The CPU is a 2GHz Pentium E2180 Dual Core chip and it has 2GB of RAM. I don't purchase the latest and greatest games, I usually wait until they aren't making DLC for the games anymore before I purchase a complete pack of the game. I can run Diablo 3, Dead Island, and Deus Ex Human Revolution with absolutely no problem. I am running into problems with games that require DirectX 10 an above, I'm running Windows XP, so I think I may need to upgrade sometime in the next year or so. However, I definitely don't want Windows 8. If I can't get Windows 7, My next system will likely be running Linux until the next version of Windows is out and only then if it is a good version. I may not be able to run games in 1920x1080 or better but my monitor is only 1440x900 in resolution and is getting old enough that it is starting to flicker for 2 to 3 minutes after I first turn it on.

Everything is still going okay for the moment but my next computer will likely last me for 5 to 10 years again. So I can definitely see where the author is coming from. The only things I have upgraded in my computer since I first built it it the power supply, hard drive, and the video card and that is because each of those components failed on me and I had to get new ones.

The Cloud is RAM, apparently (4, Interesting)

geekd (14774) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436969)

from the article:

  "Meanwhile, the rise of the cloud has reduced the need for extra memory."

Really? "The Cloud" acts as RAM?

Re:The Cloud is RAM, apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436991)

(storage)

Re:The Cloud is RAM, apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437003)

When you're not running a bunch of thick-client apps, sure. Browser tabs take up memory, but when the heavy lifting is being done on the far end (like searching thru your e-mail archives) you don't need as much.

Re:The Cloud is RAM, apparently (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437091)

Really? "The Cloud" acts as RAM?

Well, to the extent that remote processing is used for things that would be processed locally otherwise, sure, since the RAM you are relying on for them is no longer in the box you are buying, but the one the service provider owns.

That said, I don't think that TFA is correct in suggesting that the cloud, overall, has reduced the need for extra memory; maybe slowed the rate of increase. Maybe.

PC not offering the best experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43436971)

Once you get into contact with touch devices you get so used to them that when you have a PC without touch you miss the interactions
PCs with touch are a lot more expensive than pads so most people have a pad for some task and a PC for others

Personally I think that if PCs had better characteristics at a fair price they could be selling better 3D, touch....
IF PC sales are to increase they should offer new experiences and interactions as pads are offering right now

Re:PC not offering the best experience (1)

solidraven (1633185) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437097)

I'd hate to be typing equations in TeX formatting on a tablet keyboard... Touch screens are inefficient and need to die eventually, we simply haven't found the right solution to the problem according to most people. In my opinion it comes under the form of the keyboard but oh well. And tablets will never be useful for professional activities, for starters they lack the processing power to go through a few gigabytes of data quickly and the quick and easy to use interface. And that's becoming a common requirement these days.

Re:PC not offering the best experience (0)

SternisheFan (2529412) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437149)

I bought a $100 tablet (Arnova 7G3) (after my $400 laptop got water in it, would've cost $400 to fix!), with HDMI out, a 32gb microsdcard for storage, and some 64gb flashdrives for backup. I've come to realize that I don't 'need' a lap or desktop. With my light game playing, internet use, video/youtubing the tablet does all I used to use a computer for. Someday I'll get another computer, but now I'm in no rush for one.

My computers always lasted a long time... (4, Interesting)

00Monkey (264977) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436973)

I don't know if it's just me but my computers pretty much never die. I've been building them myself since the mid 90's. I stopped upgrading when Core 2 Duo came out because the PC I built still runs everything great today. I wouldn't use the Athlon XP 2000+ system I have that still runs because it doesn't run everything great but it does still work. I really don't see it being a problem with computers lasting so much longer but I could be an odd case since I don't buy stuff from Dell, HP, etc.

Re:My computers always lasted a long time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437083)

Agreed. All my major PC's were hand-built, and I get about 5 years with each one. Last month I upgraded (new RAM, SSD) my current PC of 2 years, and figure I have another 4 years before I consider it obsolete. Mind you, I'm a Debian user, so things like that creep up slowly.

Re:My computers always lasted a long time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437315)

It's not just you with hand-built computers, I bought all my computers pre-made and my average lifespan is exactly the one you quote: around 5 years.

Furthermore: I salute you, fellow Debian-using AC. (My comment: http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3643603&cid=43437257 )

It's worse than that (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436981)

I went to a few computer shops in the last month, and not only did my old computer seem good as the demo models, it seemed better. When I looked at them, I felt the pain of having to learn something new. They gave the impression of unnecessary and non-useful crapware. Touching the screen is kind of lame, and Windows 8 is confusing until you get the hang of it.

So yeah, not only is the current computer good enough, but there are actual disincentives to upgrade. They could at least put a racing stripe on it, make it prettier.

Re:It's worse than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437361)

"the pain of having to learn something new"

Might be time to hang up the geek hat and and buy stuff to throw at the lawn trespassers.

Re:It's worse than that (2)

BrentNewland (2832905) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437367)

YOUR current computer is enough.But it was probably quite a bit more powerful than the average when you bought/built it. Most people buy PC's in the low $$$ range, which means they fall behind after 3-5 years. TONS of people still on ~3GHz P4's with 512MB of RAM.

Because old machines are perfectly fine! (4, Insightful)

iamwhoiamtoday (1177507) | 1 year,7 days | (#43436993)

I'm currently playing through Crysis 2 on my old gaming computer, and it is running perfectly. No lag, shiny graphics, everything. Why spend money to replace it? It does everything I want it to do!

Q6600 @ 2.4Ghz
8GB DDR2 800
Two 9800GTX cards in SLI
two 500GB Hard Drives RAID 0
Windows 7 64-bit
2560*1440 monitor

"High" settings, Crysis 2. Runs fantastically. I don't see the point in replacing it (at least, until I move into a place where I have to pay the power bill...)

I'm looking forward to seeing how well this computer handles Bioshock Infinite.

the old ones are still "good enough" (2)

Chirs (87576) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437007)

Since non-linear video editing became more common there haven't been any new "must-have" functionality that bogged down the system to the point where people feel like they need a faster system. (Yes, gaming can be the exception to this, but most "normal" people aren't high-end gamers.)

The last computing device I bought was a firesale HP Touchpad that now dual-boots Android. Before that I spent under $450 on a Dell laptop that I'm still using today. It works fine for surfing the web, doing email, playing videos (even high def), etc. While it would be fun to upgrade, I don't *need* to.

Heck, my in-laws are still running Vista.

disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437011)

computers have continued to advance at a very similar rate for the past 15 years.. they have always excelled fast in their technology... a desktop computer has always lasted a good 5 years before feeling obsolete or dying... this hasn't changed....

Re:disagree (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437215)

computers have continued to advance at a very similar rate for the past 15 years..

I really hope we get a couple more doublings in clockspeed before the end. I don't know if we will, but it'd be nice to have a few extra cycles on non-threaded algorithms.

He has a point (2)

JanneM (7445) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437023)

The last two times I got myself a new laptop, I did because the previous one was breaking expensively (screen going bad in both cases), not because it was actually getting too slow or anything like it. That's not to say I don't enjoy the higher speed and capability of my latest one â" an SSD and enough RAM not to need swap is nice â" but nowadays such performance bumps are firmly in the "nice to have" category, not "pressing need" for me.

PC companies missed their chance. (2, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437033)

If you want to see how an industry keeps people on an upgrade treadmill, look no further than the cell phone market.

Once upon a time, the subsidy scheme was required to get people to play in the market given the genuinely high cost of the devices. Nowadays, 'unlocked' prices are hyper-inflated to lend a sense of legitimacy to carrier subsidies. Every two years, the average consumer might as well buy a new phone because it's 'just such a deal that would go to waste' even if their last device still works fine for their needs.

It's the same way so many people buy cars so frequently that they always have car payments. They get accustomed to the payment and suddenly *not* having a car payment is 'weird' and means they better get a new car.

Meanwhile, consumer PCs never really embraced some scheme to get people to have some low, forgettable monthly payment (cloud computing being an exception). They see the expense in a straightforward manner and thus don't feel the same compulsion to upgrade. Therefore, the bulk of the market goes to buying a new one when it breaks.

Re:PC companies missed their chance. (1)

CockMonster (886033) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437093)

Unlocked prices are high because phones are actually expensive to manufacture and test. They're far more complex than any PC or laptop

Re:PC companies missed their chance. (2, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437175)

Phones also are advancing quite a lot. There's a lot more difference between an iPhone 3G and a high end phone today than there is between a 4 year old PC and a new PC.

Why are PC sales dwindling? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437039)

The answer is FUCKING FAGGOTS! The FUCKING FAGGOTS vote for idiots like Barack HUSSEIN Obama and other LIBERALS! It is time to BAN the FUCKING FAGGOTS and educate the rest. I know exactly where we can send the FUCKING FAGGOTS! If we send them to NORTH KOREA the NORTH KOREANS won't know how to handle it.

Can't top it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437047)

What could be better than Windows? *cough*

Reality is exponential growth has to slow... (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437051)

... sometime.

The breakneck pace of innovation we saw for the last 30 years is slowing down. The reality is as hardware power increased software cost (like games) increased in time and money to develop. Compare a game that is ugly by today standards - descent - to any modern game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_-slr7wL8KE#t=85s [youtube.com]

Then on top of that add ghz and heat break wall that was hit around the time of the pentium 4. If you all remember right the P4 was to scale towards 10Ghz eventually it never got even close and the industry went a bit nuts because not all software can be parralelized. Just many trends have converged is all that makes PC's last a lot longer.

They stopped selling working computers. (4, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437063)

It used to be you could buy a new computer, and use it. Now to do that, you have to find an operating system, figure out how to get it to work with the new (unsupported on older OSs) hardware. Why bother? I'm dreading the task when this laptop finally dies.

I bought a Windows 8 machine on Black Friday, it lasted 4 hours before I gave up and returned it.

Windows 8 sucks so much, it can lift matter back past the event horizon of a black hole.

Re:They stopped selling working computers. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437201)

You can buy Windows 7 for more money on OEM websites. Microsoft refuses to allow retailers to offer them to you. They want you to get trained on how to use Windows Phone instead.

Or build your own or buy one with a Windows 8 Pro license. You can download and use the keys for Windows 7.

Re:They stopped selling working computers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437245)

Cue "yo mama" jokes.

Re:They stopped selling working computers. (4, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437359)

Windows 8 sucks so much, it can lift matter back past the event horizon of a black hole.

My favorite Windows 8-ism, and I swear this is true, is that they removed the ability to shutdown the computer.

No, really. They did.

There's still a "shutdown" option in the new "power charm." It even brings your computer to a power-off state. It just doesn't shutdown the OS.

Instead, "shutdown" logs you out (closing all your open applications), and then hibernates the machine rather than shutting down.

The concept is that this makes booting "faster" but in my experience, it's at best a wash. (I think booting fresh is slightly faster than restoring the entirety of memory.) In any case, you still have to wait for all your applications to restart when you log in, so what's the point?! Plus, generally when I choose "shutdown," it's because I want the OS is shut all the way down for some reason. If all I wanted to do was turn the power off, I'd just hibernate the machine.

Which brings me to my next point. The Hibernate option does not exist in the "Power charm." You can't Hibernate anymore. Apparently there's a setting somewhere that can reenable this feature, but searching for "hibernate" in the new Start Menu didn't find anything useful.

Anyway, long rant short: Windows 8 managed to break the ability to turn your PC off!

I boldy predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437085)

Balmer, or whatever, monkeyboy, will get sacked within 18 months. Reason: Win 8. The most ridiculous concept ever conceived

Another theory: few multi-process apps (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437095)

Single cores in new equipment aren't getting significantly faster, and while the number of cores in CPUs is slowly increasing, most apps are still sequential in their processing. This makes new machinery not really worth buying because it wouldn't speed your apps up by much. It's a poor investment to buy a whole new PC for a small incremental upgrade in performance.

Even in those cases where apps could potentially harness multiple cores because some of their internal tasks are naturally concurrent, they don't do so because they're written in sequential languages that cannot easily multiprocess. Developers have been really slow to embrace the new raft of concurrent languages like Erlang or Go which make multiprocessing so easy. I'm not sure why that is, but a good bet is familiarity with the old and aversion to the new.

'Just another theory to add to TFA. Any others?

I was planning to upgrade in 2015 (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437101)

That is the date I will obsolete this box I am typing on.

But with no start button NO DEAL. It is not that my computer is good enough, but rather I want to stay current and prefer to have things go down because of decommissioning rather than break when I have something due.

Yes many go to the store folks and see Windows 8 and shake their head and think, maybe my XP box is just fine? I do not want an IPAD. I want a PC!

He's largely right (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437103)

Windows 8 is a factor. It's not the largest one, but it is a factor. People don't like it, and people also feel that they don't *need* a PC like they used to. That means when faced with a Windows version you don't want vs the iPad (or whatever other tablet) that you do, the tablet is going to win an awful lot. That wasn't the case in the past, because the technology simply wasn't up to par. Today it is - a typical consumption only web user can get by just fine on a tablet and only occasionally needs a PC. Fundamentally, Metro on the desktop sucks. Microsoft could have avoided the whole problem if they'd just put a button in Control Panel labelled "make this OS work like Windows 7", in which case you'd have a faster version of Windows 7 that can also run Metro apps. That would be more popular. (You can do that yourself with start menu replacements and neat tools like ModernMix, but telling users they can download third party tools to fix it just points out that Microsoft botched the release.)

That makes the implications obvious: households that used to have 2 or 3 PCs now only need one. Many households won't need a PC at all.

For people who do still need or want one, existing PCs last a lot longer than they used to. XP machines are still kicking, and do what people want. 3 year old PCs aren't significantly worse than brand new ones if they're properly maintained. Fundamentally, the product used to improve by leaps and bounds. It now improves in tiny increments, and tiny increments aren't enough to promote replacement. It's now like a stereo: you replace it when it dies.

Multicore is part of the problem here, as well. Intel and AMD can cram as many cores in as they want, most of the stuff I run only uses one of them. It's hugely frustrating to have a CPU sitting at 25% usage while I'm waiting on calculations because most of the software out there still doesn't use multiple cores very well. Unless they're trying to sell me something with significant single thread performance boosts, why would I care how many more cores they can shove in?

The PC market had a great run, but it's over. The market is going to contract to a new normal: systems being used years longer than in the past, and fewer people needing them. It won't go away for a very long time, simply because phones and tablets aren't nearly as good a replacement for many tasks that we're doing... yet. But stagnation and decline are the new norm.

I don't need one (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437123)

I was a windows driver developer in the early 90's and did some D3D programming jobs in the late 90's. I also gamed heavily, Tomb Raider, Diablo, Doom, Quake, etc. I needed a big nasty rig to game, and big 21" CRTs to write code.

In the 2000's i got sick of FPS and didn't need the CPU horsepower any more. My job switched to linux, so any mini box would do, and I eventually switched to a Mac. Now I develop APPs for Win8 at work, and only use a computer at home to watch Hulu and Netflix. All music goes through my iPhone and a docking station in my kitchen and bedroom, where I spend most of my time. For parties, my $50 shelf top docking station is perfect. I use spotify and pandora, and no longer use my giant music library.

I'm no longer a programmer or gamer, I don't have a lot of time to futz with sketchy hardware, all of my digital content is streamed, my pictures are all in the cloud.

I have ZERO need for a PC, and I don't want to learn how to use one. iOS is too complicated IMHO, and all of my digital needs are now served by a tablet and a smartphone.

That's why the PC market is dying.

I always keep a desktop for 5 years (5, Insightful)

SampleFish (2769857) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437125)

I have always built my own desktop PCs. They always last longer than 5 years. I build a new one after 5 years because I want to not because I have to. In fact I often hand down my old PC and it stays in service for many more years. You might lose a PSU or a HDD but the computer itself should last long after obsolescence.

PC sales are down for the same reason all sales are down. The middle class has been robbed of buying power. Poor wages, lay-offs, outsourcing, tax burden, or whatever other reason you can come up with. There are more people than we have work to do. When people struggle they often won't buy nice things like computers. They may not be happy with the old one but they can't afford to replace it. I'm sure new car sales are down as people keep the old ones longer.

The middle class = the American economy. When the people suffer there is a "trickle up suffering" *

*("Trickle up suffering" is a registered trademark of SampleFish)

It's the economy (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437127)

My computer is 6 years old and I'm a developer that needs the latest and the greatest. Why haven't I? Well, I don't have the money. Between education for the kids and the ever increasing bullshit fees that my city, corporations, insurance, etc that keep increasing at an incredible rate despite the general population's lowering of available funds.

Food and other essentials are increasing at an insanely fast rate. People are cutting back spending which makes corporations and governments increase their rates in order to keep increasing their budgets. So people cut back more, so they keep increasing the prices.

Fuck. This. Shit. The whole system is going to collapse.

In other words, PCs aren't improving enough (3, Insightful)

JoeyRox (2711699) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437139)

It's not that existing PCs are too good but that they haven't improved much in the past few years, in particular processing speed. The days of huge computing jumps with a new processor generation appear to be behind us, at least for x86.

Re:In other words, PCs aren't improving enough (2)

ThePeices (635180) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437221)

But is a huge increase in computing power going to make my computing experience that much better than it already is?

I doubt it. Fast enough is good enough.

Re:In other words, PCs aren't improving enough (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437287)

um I dunno I just upgraded from a phenom X3 720 to a i7 3770k and its a huge fucking jump

Mhz != power

but as I stated a couple days ago, unless your playing a game you cant tell a single bit of difference... it dont take much to run excel 2007

I blame the Gema Consoles (2)

luckytroll (68214) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437209)

Lets face it, the average user and business PC are serviced well enough by Windows 7, or even XP. So who is left to chase the gains brought by Moores Law?

The PC gaming enthusiasts, thats who. And why are those guys for the most part sticking with the same PCs?

Because most PC games are locked to the performance of a game console - Xbox, et all - and those are a little long in the tooth themselves.

Until the next generation of Consoles pushes the envelope of hardware, and the game developers follow suit... PCs will have no reason to follow...

Re:I blame the Gema Consoles (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437293)

The other aspect of this is that game performance is mostly graphics card performance.

If you have a decent PC all you need to play almost any game at a really good level is a graphics card upgrade.

Different implication of Moore's law (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437219)

At one time, in three years the performance difference between an old PC and a new PC was so great that it was easier to justify spending the money for an upgrade. Now, the increase in transistor density seems to have lead us to a point where we still have great increases in computing power but we've had to branch out into multi-core architectures. An 8 core PC at 3 Ghz is obviously more powerful than a 4 core PC at 2.8Ghz but for most people, it's not worth the expense to upgrade.

LK

The REAL reason PCs are not selling (0)

puddingebola (2036796) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437231)

I have read 5 different stories in the last few days purporting to explain the drop in PC sales. They are all rubbish. The REAL reason PC's are not selling is that when Steve Jobs died, there was a huge disturbance in the force, as if thousands of black turtle neck wearing Mac users sitting in cafes sipping espressos cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Then a wave of negative karma radiated from there collective heads into their Macs, iPhones and iPads creating a massive bad vibe in the collective information internet network hive mind. This was felt worldwide as well as on higher astral planes and other chakra levels. This caused computer users worldwide to stop thinking about consuming the next iteration of Windows PCs, and instead to really wonder where their collective heads are at. Dig? If this had happened in 1992 it wouldn't have made a ripple in the fabric of space-time, but because now there are several hundred million Apple devices linked to the collective consciousness, it had a powerful effect. If you have any questions about this, it will all be appearing in my new O'Reilly pubished book, "How your computer can help you experience better Transcendental Meditation." It's the one with a chimpanzee on the cover drinking a glass of Cabernet and giving you the middle finger. - puddingebola lives in Alaska with his pet hamster Simon. He is the author of 27 books about computer consciousness.

Extended lifecycles (2)

EvilSS (557649) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437243)

Virtually every company has stretched their update cycles on PCs in the past few years. It started with the economic downturn but like many new "efficiencies", they have discovered they can live with a 5, 6, even 7 year life cycle vs their old 3-4 year cycles.

At the same time home users are not seeing a reason to upgrade. Most people are not doing much more than surfing the web and maybe using some form of an office suite. With fast multicore CPUs, cheap RAM, and SSDs, even power users are not replacing as much continually upgrading. I used to go through laptops in 18 months tops. Now, I'm over two years on my i7, 16GB, 256GB SSD equipped laptop and I see zero reason to upgrade anytime in the near future. It's just not being taxed, even with some of the crazy analytic workloads I throw at it. My home PC is going on 2 years old. I've upgraded. Added a new video card to replace my old 8800 GT, I added an SSD boot drive, new monitor. But replacing the whole box, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

The industry needs to face it, PCs are the new TVs.

Nothing that reasonable prices won't fix. (0)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437255)

Computers are good enough!??? Warranties have dropped to nothing, people are realizing that the stuff you buy at the big box store is absolute garbage. Manufacturers need to resupply the shelves with stuff that is worth buying.
The average PC user may be pretty dumb. The average consumer is really, really smart.
Oh and having a freakin job may help.

ALL my computers have lasted around 5 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437257)

I didn't RTFA, but I disagree with the summary that "lasting computers" is a new thing.

The first computer I bought myself was a crappy Compaq with Cyrix processor back in 1997, in 2003 I replaced it with an HP with Celeron and 256MB of RAM, mid-life of that computer I made the jump to Linux and, with only a PSU fan replacement, it hung on until 2007 when I replaced it with a Hateway laptop. The Hateway laptop through it's life needed a WiFi card replacement, lost the battery, and lost a few keys on the built-in keyboard, but I continued using it because I was using it as a desktop replacement anyway... until last month when the USB ports went dead.

If anything, going only by my experience, newer computers last less. I still have the old Compaq, it still works (though I'm only saving it to use the case in a project). I still have the HP. Guess where I'm typing this from?... Yep, the HP running Lubuntu 13.04, and it works *surprisingly* well.

So the fact that old computers are still perfectly functional is, at least for me, nothing new. Still I will buy a new computer this month. The difference with the other ones is that this one sure as hell WON'T come with Windows. Either I'll build or I'll buy from some place like System76, or maybe that Ubuntu ultrabook from Dell. I've yet to decide.

The newer computers are not better built (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437269)

The only computers that are better built are the ones by enthusiasts. The corporate machines that Dell & HP make nowdays are toasters built to last 1 or so years past the standard business lease. Lenovo still seems to have some decent build quality. Consumer PC are probably built a bit better because individuals care more than corporations do (& the bulk discounts they get).

I've pitched perfectly running 486, 586 & 686 machines just because they couldn't run a modern OS at an acceptible speed & I couldn't give them away, too old, power ineffecient, out-dated tech (ISA, AGP?).

The older machines were built more studier with wider margins on the components. Nowdays a spec machine gets a 300W PS unit because as built, draws 280W. You add a card and now you're pushing it.

What drove PC developement was the gamer & the increasingly bloated apps & OS. Boot times today are about the same as DOS on a 386. The focus now is on smaller, lighter & good battery life of our portables. Faster isn't the focus that it once was & Microsoft's decision to force a desktop to work like portable just doesn't make sense.

On previous releases, you'd have to spend money on extra memory, storage & maybe video or just buy a new machine to avoid spending money on an upgraded parts to still have 4+ yr old machine, but most of the time, the new features of the new OS & the faster technology made it worth while (ignoring Vista) & Linux was made to run well on a generation or 2 old hardware. No, MS missed the mark with 8, gave us no compelling reason to buy that new machine (with touchscreen!) when our Apple & android tablets are doing what we want just fine.

My 2 cents, for what its worth.

I can't think of a car analogy, but... (2)

fox171171 (1425329) | 1 year,7 days | (#43437291)

Computers lasting longer, Win8 not the problem?

Just like looking at a toddler with a pee soaked diaper thinking the kid can make this diaper last a bit longer because it still works. While partly true, the kid is mainly hanging on to this one because the only new diaper comes pre-loaded with shit.

My machine is certainly not too good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437377)

I went 386DX-33/40 (with a 'turbo' button you could use in real-time: most program could deal with it, some would crash), 486, Pentium I, Celeron, Pentium IV, Core 2 Duo, Core i5...

I "skipped" quite a few models: what's that, one every three years or so !? I don't consider my i5 to be "too good". Of course it's provocative and sure to get votes and links and whatnots to claim that in the last five years the smartphone and tablet revolution did not happen, and the Apple computer slowdown being half the PC shipment slowdown means nothing...

The truth is: complex things (things influencing PC shipments worldwide) are explained by several factors, not just one. That computers are "too good" may be one factor but it's certainly not the only one.

False dichotomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 days | (#43437383)

There are many reasons for the decline.

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