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Here’s why the death of Windows 7 is breathing new life into PCs

Even as Windows 7 die-hards continue to mourn the death of Microsoft’s beloved operating system, not everyone in the PC industry will be grieving. In their respective earnings calls this month, both Microsoft and Intel stated that the timely demise of Windows 7 presents new opportunities for the industry to grow.

For a PC industry that has been in decline, the untimely death of Windows 7 may be just what it needs for new life to grow.

Confluence of emerging technologies

“In Windows, overall PC market growth was stronger than we expected and benefited from the low prior year comparable related to the timing of chips supply of our OEM partners,” Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said. “OEM Pro revenue, which makes up roughly 40% of total Windows revenue, grew 26% [year-over-year] driven by the continued momentum in advance of Windows 7 end of support and strong Windows 10 demand.”

Hood’s comments were echoed by Intel, citing its silicon business grew in late 2019 and early 2020 thanks to strong PC sales due to Windows 7’s end-of-life.

Dell XPS 13
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Revenue for Intel’s Client Computing Group, which is responsible for the chips inside your desktops and laptops, grew approximately 2% year-over-year, beating Wall Street’s earlier projections. In total, Gartner’s market analysis showed that PC shipments grew 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019 ahead of Windows 7’s end-of-life.

The truth is that in most cases, it’s far more efficient to buy a new PC than to try and upgrade a five to ten year old computer.

Microsoft’s decision to stop supporting Windows 7 combined with a slew of emerging technology may help position 2020 as a renaissance year for the PC. Given that Windows 7 debuted more than a decade ago in 2009, graphics and processing speeds have dramatically improved with Intel’s 10th-gen processors, AMD’s latest CPU cores, and Nvidia’s RTX series graphics.

For example, in the span of a decade, Intel’s CPU architecture decreased by more than 75% — going from a 45nm design to a 10nm+ process on Ice Lake.

But even if you don’t crave the extra silicon performance, upgrading to the latest laptop or desktop can deliver meaningful and tangible benefits, ranging from lighter weight from a sleeker form factor, better battery life, and faster wireless with the rise of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 modems.

Mobile 5G connectivity will make it easier to stay connected on the go (when it arrives), while Wi-Fi 6 delivers an always-ready computing experience similar to what you can expect on smartphones with core apps being able to stay updated in the background, even if your laptop’s lid is closed.

Still, Microsoft and its hardware partners have been working on new form factors designed to breathe new life into your PC. Asus, Dell, and Lenovo have each showcased clamshells with either flexible, foldable displays or dual-screen designs in recent months. Microsoft is hard at work in making Windows 10 more suited to these new form factors to highlight creativity and productivity.

Everything has been in place, just waiting for the right reason for a massive chunk of people to upgrade.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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