When Microsoft released Windows 8 last fall, a lot of people thought it could be the PC's savior, a hip-looking new thing that made those clunky IBM-compatibles cool again. In fact, it's quite the opposite. New research from IDC shows that PC sales just dropped by the greatest margin ever — or at least in the past two decades that the firm's been keeping records. In the first quarter of 2013, the number of PCs sold dropped by 13.9 percent, the fourth consecutive quarterly decline. This sort of drop would be bad for any industry, but for one as young as computers, it's historic. The Associated Press says that "this is clearly the worst shape that the PC market has been in since IBM Corp. released a desktop machine in 1981."
Who's to blame? All signs point to Windows 8. The new operating system was supposed to be a lifeline for Microsoft's once almost monopolistic grip on the sector, but it was immediately confusing to people who tried to use it soon after launch. Even usability experts were having a hard time with the thing. (Yes, there is such a thing as a "usability expert.") Poor sales followed poor reviews, and within a few weeks, Windows 8 was pretty much considered a flop. Meanwhile, Microsoft fired the mastermind behind it. IDC vice president Bob O'Donnell sounds almost sympathetic when he said in a statement, "At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market."