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The Windows family tree.

Mark Twain is reported to have said that “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Now-a-days it seems to be Steve Balmer of Microsoft fame. No, I’m not talking about his actual death, but the death of their leading product and platform: the ubiquitous PC and Windows.

Microsoft itself seems to have cast the death blow to its foundational product last year when it introduced Windows 8 — an operating system that few like, and which¬† most people find confusing and cumbersome. Designed to work on both touchscreen tablets as well as desktops, it inevitably doesn’t work with either particularly well.

And this isn’t just some vague perception from the anti-Microsoft crowd. This is backed up with real data, most notably in the latest IDC report released this month that says PC sales are down 14% year over year.

And it’s doubtful that Microsoft’s rush job on a new version of Windows 8 (codenamed “Blue”) will fix things.¬† Having upset hardware vendors who were counting on hardware sales during the bi-annual “refresh cycle,” it’s likely that many of them will be looking to Android and other platforms to secure their places in the hardware world.

“While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.” (IDC report)