Windows 8.1 and Haswell can't save the PC

Analysts are looking hopefully at Windows 8.1 and the release of the Intel’s Haswell chip in the belief that this can stimulate the flagging PC market.

Initially there had been hope that the tide against the IT industry would change when Windows 8 arrived. When this didn’t happen, analysts were about as cheerful as a Stark wedding in Game of Thrones.

Now, Bloomberg is getting enthusiastic that Windows 8.1 and Haswell can bring new life into the industry.

Bloomberg points out that the Haswell processors are a major improvement, especially for portable PCs like ultrabooks, tablets, and hybrids. There are two main benefits to Haswell that are uniquely suited to deliver a better portable computing experience: power efficiency and graphics performance.

Windows 8.1 removes a lot of the controversial default features of Windows 8 and returns it to being a good and sensible operating system.

But what Bloomberg and its ilk fail to understand is that the slump in the PC market is nothing to do with technology any more than it is to do with the rise of mobile devices.

The reason that the PC market is frozen is because the world economy is still the pits and the previous generation of Windows 7 machines were good enough to ride any long term slump.

Firms and consumers are saving money by sitting on existing machines and not upgrading. Why should anyone get themselves into hock when they can run all the existing games and software on machines that are doing just fine?

The only reason that mobiles and tablets have taken off is because they are tools which people did not have before the recession hit. Some people think they are “must have” and so that industry has survived the economic storm.

The proof of all this is that the downturn in PCs mirrors those places in the deepest economic doo doo. Europe in particular is a black hole for PCs.

This makes it unlikely that the IT industry will pick up until the economics in those regions improves. It might be that it takes a year or two before those Windows 7 computers start to die, but at the moment there is no compelling technology reason to upgrade. It is not as if Windows 8 can run software which Windows 7 can’t. Haswell will improve things like ultrabooks and laptops, but people are more likely to say wait for their laptops to die before splashing out on a new one.