It’s no question that the PC market is on the decline. As more mobile devices become competent alternatives for many users, the PC has faced some strong outside competition. It’s no longer Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) PCs versus Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) PCs versus Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macs, with whomever else in between. Now it’s everyone’s PCs versus everyone’s tablets and smartphones.
For many people, an iPad has all the computer functionality they need to get a majority of their computing tasks done. The same can be said of other tablets — though none are quite as popular. Since tablets are often smaller, more portable, and can be cheaper than some PCs, they have proven to be sufficient for many users, and thus have interfered with PC sales. For people with very limited computing demands, smartphones can even be a satisfactory replacement, and they are far more prevalent than tablets.
Microsoft acknowledged the shift in the industry toward tablets and away from PCs, and it aimed for the middle ground when it launched Windows 8 and its Surface Pro hybrid tablet. The new operating system was a major departure from the style and form of older Windows versions — at least on the surface, as the system started up with an unfamiliar, stylized display of boxes, rather than the traditional desktop that was hidden underneath. The new operating system looked tablet-ready, but for many Windows loyalists, it might not have looked much like Windows.