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PC sales no boost from Windows 8

The US launch of Windows 8 failed to boost sales of personal computers, according to research firm NPD Group.

In the three weeks after Windows 8 launched on October 26, sales of Windows PCs and tablet computers fell 21% compared with a year earlier, according to NPD, which tracks US retail sales.

Researchers said the weak sales are a continuation of a trend seen throughout this year.

US consumers appear more interested in spending electronics dollars on smartphones and tablets than on upgrading their computers. Several tablet makers have released new models this autumn, while Apple has released a smaller version of its market-leading iPad.

Microsoft developed Windows 8 with tablets and touch screens in mind. The new operating system features a new look and is designed to make desktops and laptops work more like tablets.

The company is supporting the launch with its largest-ever advertising campaign. UBS analyst Mary Jo Foley put the value of the campaign at 1 billion dollars (625 million).

PC makers were officially optimistic and have largely switched their consumer-focused product lines over to Windows 8, but they were cautious about stocking large numbers of PCs ahead of the launch.

Microsoft has said it sold 40 million licences to Windows 8 in its first month on the market, but that number includes licences bought by PC manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell for machines built but not yet sold.

Research firm IHS iSuppli has predicted that 349 million PCs will be shipped worldwide this year. That would be a 1% decline from the year before - the first year-over-year decline since 2001.

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