Windows 8 touchscreen notebook sales stumble as PC buyers flock to tablets

News 26 Feb, 2013

Context's figures reveal lacklustre take-up of touchscreen devices across Western Europe since Windows 8's launch.

PC buyers are shunning touch-enabled Windows 8 notebooks in favour of lower cost tablet devices, according to figures released by market watcher Context.

The firm tracked the number of touch-enabled Windows 8 and RT notebooks sold through IT distributors across Western Europe since the launch of Microsoft’s new operating system in October.

Its figures show that just 0.2 per cent of the devices sold through UK distribution in October were touch-enabled notebooks, which had steadily increased to 2.6 per cent by January.

There was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touchscreens in portable PCs.

Across Western Europe, the picture was largely the same, although Spain emerged as the least enthusiastic adopter of the devices, as just 0.5 per cent of notebooks sold through distribution in January featured a touchscreen.

Meanwhile, Italy’s enthusiasm for Windows 8 touchscreen devices seems to have waned since launch, as the percentage of touchscreen devices shipped through distribution has dropped since then from 3.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior PC analyst at Context, said the popularity of the devices may have suffered from a lack of support from hardware vendors at the time of Windows 8’s launch.

“There was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touchscreens in portable PCs," she said.

"In fact, only 1.1 per cent of all the Windows 8 portable PCs selling through distribution at the time of the launch were touch screen-enabled.

"By the end of January this year, this had only risen to 2.4%, while tablet sales as we know have increased significantly over the same period," Pygott added.

The analyst house said it expects sales of touchscreen Windows 8 notebooks to increase by the third quarter of 2013, as Christmas approaches, but the high cost of the devices could put some users off.

“The price of 15-inch and higher touch screens is still expensive, making the portables a high-priced item, [and] the proliferation of cheaper tablets could potentially dampen touchscreen sales,” the company added in a statement.

Context’s figures were released at Mobile World Congress earlier this week, which has seen a plethora of new Android tablets being announced by the likes of Samsung, HP and Asus.

LG is also rumoured to have used the event to treat attendees to a sneak peek at its new Windows 8 tablet, although IT PRO was awaiting confirmation of this at the time of writing.  

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“There was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touchscreens in portable PCs," she said.

That's because the PC vendors (unlike the fools at Microsoft) have figured out that PC users neither wish to pay a major premium for touch-enablement nor wish to perpetually smear finger grease all over their PC screens.

Given the choice between touch screen or a larger screen I'd choose the larger screen.
Then too, as screens get larger, they get too big to be much use as a touchscreen...
Who wants to be waving their arms all over the place, something's going to get knocked over... LOL if your arms don't get tired first...

I can use windows 8 just fine without a touch screen!

I installed Windows 8 as my full time OS shortly after it was released a couple of months ago, and use it every day without a touchscreen. I have never had a problem, and quite enjoy it actually. On my desktop I spend most of my time in "desktop mode", except for when playing light Windows 8 games like Pac-Man or solitaire, ect., and this suits the full screen "modern" interface perfectly. I can still hardcore game on the desktop like always, as well as do any other desktop centric tasks, and never have to leave desktop mode. I can switch between whichever mode (desktop/modern) I wish to be in with one click, and that mode is perfectly suited for the task. I never have to leave the mode I want to be in if I don't want to. Although if setting up for yourself there will be some tweeking of the default programs, so that the program you want will open in the mode best suited for your need on that particular device. I say that because you may want to open media player on the desktop if listening to music on your desktop or while working in desktop mode, but you may want to open the "modern" music app if listening to music on your tablet. Adding touch is a great enhancement, but it is by no means a requirement for Windows 8. I just love having the choice.

Last weekend I bought an Asus Vivo tab RT and absolutely love it. But it is technically a tablet I guess, so to premise of the article is correct. However with the keyboard docking station, I see it as more of a cool little touchscreen netbook with a detachable screen. Of course I use this device differently than my desktop, so I have it set up differently with what default apps I use, and the mode that I spend more time in. On this device I spend much more time in the modern/touch mode. The slight limitations of WInRT are a nonfactor for me using this device, and it is a perfect media consumption companion for my home network. The fact that I can use it as a laptop replacement for 80-90% of the tasks I would need it for is just an added bonus, especially since it has included Office 2013, not to mention the 16+ hrs of battery life. All for less than the cost of an ipad.

Oh ya, I just saw a macbook air fire sale a couple of weeks ago also. $100 off mba's...so it has nothing to do with touchscreen laptops as some will have you believe. I can tell you from first hand experience that once you start using a laptop with a touchscreen, using one without one seems empty.

I think many people are also waiting for next gen Haswell chips before upgrading. Makes sense to me. Could this also be why many(most) laptops(mac or win) are on sale? Hmm...

I don't think that is the case - a very tiny number of people know what Haswell is, so not very many people will be waiting for it - not that it will offer anything spectacularly better than the current offerings.