End of Windows XP aiding PC sales

Windows XPFirst quarter sales of desktop and notebook computers are down, marking the eight consecutive quarter of sliding sales. The good news is the bleeding isn’t as bad as previously projected, thanks in large part to a PC refresh by businesses replacing obsolete Windows XP machines.

Analyst firms IDC and Gartner agree that PC sales between January and March were down compared to the same period in 2013. However, the decline wasn’t nearly as sharp as expected. IDC said sales were off 5.3 percent, while Gartner says the decline is just 1.7 percent.

Businesses looking to replace aging PCs running Windows XP is credited for staunching the PC bleeding. Since 2012, PC sales have been diving as consumers flock to adopt smartphones, phablets and tablets.

Microsoft gave the PC segment a shot over the last quarter by hyping the end-of-life of the 13-year-old Windows XP operating system. With few exceptions, businesses and consumers will no longer receive maintenance and security updates for the operating system.

Consumers are slow to transition to Windows 7 or Windows 8, but businesses are heeding warnings about being left unsupported by adopting newer machines with greater capabilities and supported operating systems.

Solution providers have reported through 2013 that they hadn’t seen the PC slowdown reported so widely by analysts and press. Businesses, they say, continue to invest in conventional endpoints as they continue to adopt cloud services, particularly applications.

Market tracking firm NPD and the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) reported last fall that PC sales through the channel increased by 14.5 percent in 2013. While significant, the channel only accounts for one-quarter of PC sales.

Vendors, too, are reporting a rebound, of sorts. HP is expecting PC sales to climb in early months of 2014. Lenovo continues to report strong sales, especially through their surging North America channel network. And Intel, perhaps the best bellwether, is seeing increased demand for components.

Overall PC sales remain down and are expected to decline further in 2013. Declining consumer PC sales are expected to bring the total segment performance down this year, as it did in 2013 and 2012.

However, the early indication that businesses are spending on PCs is good news for the channel. Windows XP continues to hold a 28 percent market share among the total install base, showing there’s still ample opportunity to update aging PC fleets.

This article originally appeared on Channelnomics.com.