There's no need to rehash the PC stats for Q1; we all know it was bad. The purpose of this post is to ask what Wintel can do about it. Fortunately for them, the plan looks much better this year.
WinSuperSite has obtained newly leaked builds of Windows 8.1, aka Blue, which shows the return of the Start menu and the boot to desktop option. And there was much rejoicing. Maybe even I will upgrade.
On the hardware side, Intel is giving briefings this week on the new line of CPUs, codenamed "Haswell," that it will formally introduce at the massive Computex show beginning this weekend in Taipei, Taiwan. Intel has said repeatedly that Haswell is the first CPU design from the ground up meant for Ultrabooks and is claiming that Haswell-powered Ultrabooks will have 50% longer battery life than the current generation of Ultrabooks.
At the same time, Haswell will have a slight bump in CPU speed and a big jump in GPU performance. That's not necessarily a bad thing. CPU performance has been good enough for the vast majority of jobs for more than a decade. Unless you are a gamer, a 10% boost is moot, and gamers aren't bothering with Ultrabooks.
This will make for a much more appealing combination of hardware and software. Again, no one has complained about Windows 8 being a broken, kludgy mess the way Vista was. Even gamers have complimented it on being slightly faster than Windows 7. The problem was the lack of the two features we are now getting.
And then there's the hardware. Besides better performance, Intel is also promising Ultrabooks as low as $599 by Christmas. Last year, they were around $899, which was asking a lot. A $300 price cut will do wonders for competition.
Plus, rumors abound of Windows RT being scaled down for 7-inch models, which would inherently be cheaper and give RT the kick in the pants it so desperately needs.
There are still problem areas. The Windows Store is still a mess, full of junk apps, if it has apps at all. And according to a report from PC management service provider Soluto, those who do have Windows 8 are skipping the apps. Usage data indicates Windows 8 users turn to Modern UI apps an average of 1.52 times per day.
Still, it looks like the base platform is solidifying. Now for the rest to follow.