According to Gartner, 85% of Microsoft's current sales of Windows are in the PC market, while 90% of current Android sales are in mobile phones. In the first quarter, Apple's unit sales split was about 62%/32% between the iPhone and iPad, with 6% attributed to the Mac.
Microsoft's share of all computing devices -- personal computers, tablets and smartphones -- will remain flat for the next 18 months, Apple's will slowly grow, but both will be increasingly dwarfed by Android, the Google OS whose sole strength is in phones. (Data: Gartner.)
Gartner knocked millions off its revised estimates of PC shipments -- desktops and notebooks -- and slightly boosted its bet on "ultramobiles," which include everything from thin and light notebook-like systems to slate and hybrid devices running Windows 8.
Its forecast that the combined PC and ultramobile markets will contract by 7.3% was very close to the 7.8% downturn that rival research firm IDC pegged last month when it revamped its PC shipment estimates.
Without ultramobile devices -- and not all will feature Windows -- the PC business is in deep, deep trouble, Gartner indicated. It forecast that traditional PC shipments will fall 10.6% this year and another 5.2% in 2014 to end up at 289 million units that year, compared to 2012's 341 million.
Milanesi isn't the only or the first analyst to predict heavy weather ahead for Microsoft before some sun breaks through. Last October, Forrester analyst Frank Gillett predicted that 2013 "is going to be ugly" for the Redmond, Wash. developer.
But even though her numbers for Windows were gloomier today, Milanesi remained optimistic about Microsoft's chances. "They had the OS," she said, referring broadly to both Windows 8 and Windows RT, "but they didn't have the devices. There were a whole bunch of things that did not fall into place last year and the first half of this year. But with the processor changes from Intel, smaller tablet form factors and other designs, I think things will be quite interesting for Microsoft in 2014."
This week will be important to any optimistic prognosis, including Milanesi's: Microsoft will unveil Windows 8.1, a free upgrade for Windows 8 and Windows RT, on Wednesday at its BUILD developer's conference in San Francisco.
Cast by Microsoft as a customer-feedback-driven refresh, but as a more dramatic revamp or even backtrack by outsiders, Windows 8.1 will allow for 8-in. tablets and, along with new hardware designs, perhaps prompt Microsoft's customers to adopt the unusual operating system.
"The timing is way different this year [than last]," said Milanesi. "There is a lot coming from a hardware perspective in the second half of the year."
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