Under normal circumstances, the launch of a fresh version of Windows would be a moment for the channel to celebrate, because of its potential to form the central argument of an upgrade pitch.
But at a time when shortages are plaguing the industry and the widespread adoption of hybrid working has meant many ageing desktops remain unused in offices, the arrival of Windows 11 has come with far less fanfare.
The operating system was mentioned in passing, at the Canalys Channel Forum event, as one of the potential factors that will drive growth, along with the likes of 5G and improved infrastructure, with the analyst house expecting it to be more of an influence in the medium and longer term.
“We aren’t expecting it to have a huge impact on PC shipments in the short-term, particularly as the main driver of demand in the market has switched back to the commercial segment, following the huge spike in consumer demand that occurred during the height of the pandemic and into Q1 of this year,” said Ishan Dutt, senior analyst at Canalys.
“Windows 11 doesn’t offer any vital features or updates for business users, and accelerating the switch of the Windows 10 installed base onto 11 will not be an easy task,” he added.
“This is especially true when we think about shipments of new devices running Windows 11, given that so many users and businesses have already laid out money on a PC over the past 18 months, or are still awaiting backlogged orders.”
The high shipment volumes that were seen last year and in some territories in the first half of this year have been largely a reaction to the pandemic and the shift to remote working. With component shortages impacting deliveries, the PC market is still working through its backlogs of existing orders.
Pause in investments
There are already signs that PC spending in EMEA is slowing down, with some of that down to the pause in investments some customers are making while they formulate their hybrid working strategy.
But the expectation is that growth will continue, with PCs one of the best tools for users looking to deal with increased workloads and video demands.
In the medium to long-term, that is where the features of Windows 11 are expected to become more attractive to users, according to Dutt.
“Over the long-term, it’s clear that Microsoft intends to use Windows 11 to drive a wider-scale transition to improvements in hardware, given the requirement restrictions it’s pushing,” he said.
“Furthermore, many of the features, such as integrated Android apps, better multitasking, widgets and cleaner transitions between using a notebook with and without a monitor, are all squarely aimed at new usage behaviour that has arisen over the course of the past two years, where people are using their PCs at home to cover a wider base of computing needs,” said Dutt.
In some ways, the PC has managed to win fans without the attraction of a new sparkly operating system thanks to its resilience during the pandemic.
“The PC market has undergone a remarkable year and a half, with the behavioural changes driven by the pandemic placing the PC at the heart of our personal and professional lives in a way that was not expected,” he added. “The future looks bright for the entire PC industry.”