Sales of PCs have been steadily decreasing over the past few years, but market changes saw the PC market bounce up, down and back up again in 2014.
From Microsoft ending support for its popular operating system (OS) XP, to Apple making moves into the enterprise space, 2014 has been a busy year for the PC market.
Here are the top 10 PC stories of 2014:
The beginning of 2014 brought in reports of 2013 having been the worst year for PC shipments in history, with PCs declining by 10% year on year.
The increased use and accessibility of tablet devices were negatively impacting the PC industry, slowing sales in both established and emerging markets.
This led to speculation emerging markets may move straight to mobile devices, not adopting PCs at all.
The only growth displayed in the sector was by Chinese giant Lenovo, which saw a 23.7% year-on-year growth in the last quarter of 2013.
Chinese firm Lenovo continued to storm forward, not only in the PC space but pushing into other markets such as mobile as well.
The growing firm bought Motorola Mobility, sealing its position in the mobile space as well as in the PC hardware segment.
As the end of Windows XP approached, Microsoft warned businesses to migrate away from the OS.
The firm predicted an increase in malware aimed at XP machines after support ended later in the year, and it became clear a number of businesses had done nothing to move away from the OS, despite support ending just a few months later.
However, Microsoft did cave in to user concerns, agreeing to offer extended security updates for the legacy operating system up to 15 months after the official support end date.
The PC market continued to decline in the first quarter of the year, while Lenovo grew further.
In January 2014, Lenovo announced its acquisition of IBM's x86 server business and was expected to emulate its successes in the PC market by undercutting the established competitors, especially HP and Dell.
On 8 April 2014, Microsoft officially ended support for its Windows XP operating system, despite it still having a wider user base in the business environment.
Microsoft claimed it had given firms plenty of time to migrate away from the operating system before ending support, but it was predicted that 27% of all desktops worldwide were still running XP.
Microsoft director of trustworthy computing Tim Rains said: “Between July 2012 and July 2013, there were 30 vulnerabilities discovered in the later operating systems that were common to XP, so the risk is high.”
By the middle of the year, PC shipments were still in decline, but the fall in PC sales in the first quarter of 2014 was not as steep as those seen in the previous seven quarters.
Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said: “All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter.”
It was predicted as the tablet market continued to reach saturation, the rapid decline in PC sales would also slow.
The PC market then picked up later in the year, with the second quarter of 2014 indicating growth in the sector due to the end of XP support bolstering sales.
Apple made a few out-of-character decisions across 2014, including releasing a number of open application programming interfaces for kits such as HealthKit and AppKit, and its mobility partnership with IBM signalling a slow move towards the enterprise.
In July 2014, the company released its 11th OS for open beta, marking the first time Apple has given the public access to the public before fully launching it.
One of the main differences the new operating system promised was greater interoperability between all Apple devices. Yosemite and iOS will have the Apple Handoff capability, which allows users to start a task on one device and then hand it over to another to pick up where they left off. This may help to make Apple devices easier to use in the enterprise space.
After the number of people left stranded on Windows XP after support ended, analysts urged enterprise users of Windows 7 to avoid having the same problem when Microsoft ends support.
Windows 8 has been shipping for almost two years, but the majority of organisations are deploying Windows 7 on new PCs rather than the newer OS.
Despite HP’s continued decline in the PC market, the organisation finished the year with high hopes.
In 2014 the company split into two, one half focused on PCs and printers, the other on enterprise computing.
HP CEO Meg Whitman said HP has gone through organisational changes, improved its cash position from net debt of $12bn in late 2011 to net cash of $5.9bn today, and was “turning up the volume” on research and development.
Towards the end of the year, Microsoft released a technical preview of its next operating system – Windows 10.
The company intended to use the new operating system to tackle criticism received about its current hybrid OS Windows 8.
As 2014 comes to a close, Microsoft leaves us with a glimpse of what’s to come in the new year.