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Is it time for a reclassification of what a 'PC' really is?

We reexamine what should and should not be called a "PC."

This week, the research firms Gartner and IDC revealed their estimates for PC shipment number for the fourth quarter of 2014. The two companies disagreed on their overall numbers. Gartner claimed that PC shipments grew by 1% year-to-year in the last quarter. However, IDC said that shipments went down 2.3% during the fourth quarter.

What got our attention, however, was how each firm defined what a 'PC' is. Both Gartner and IDC said that desktops and notebooks running on Windows and Mac are considered PCs. However, they differ when it comes to other form factors and even operating systems.

Gartner says that its definition of PCs includes all Windows-based tablets but does not include Chromebooks. On the surface, this seems odd considering that Chromebooks have the same form factor as Windows and Mac-based notebooks. They just run another operating system, Google's Chrome OS.

On the other hand, IDC says that Chromebooks are indeed PCs, but leave out all tablets, including Apple's iPad and any tablet based on Windows and Android. However, there are plenty of Windows tablets that have either an optional or included detachable keyboard, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. Furthermore, there are other Windows notebooks, such as the Lenovo Yoga series, that allow the attached keyboard to flip around 360 degrees so that it can be used as a tablet.

Lenovo Horizon

There's also the all-in-one PC, which combines the hardware and monitor in one form-factor. Many of them have touch screens and a few, such as Lenovo's Horizon series, can actually be used as an enormous stand-alone tablet, with no keyboard attached at all.

It's clear that the PC form-factor has evolved well beyond just the "desktop" and "notebook" category, but at the moment, two of the biggest PC hardware research firms can't even agree on what a PC really is.

IDC vs Gartner

Windows Central contacted IDC to find out why they included Chromebooks in their definition of PCs but leave out devices such as the Surface Pro 3 that have detachable keyboards either included with the purchase of the product or offered as a recommended first party option. Here's what a spokesperson from IDC told us via email:

"We made a decision to align the taxonomy along physical form factor (i.e. notebook PCs need to have non-detachable keyboards) rather than along an operating system-centric point of view or use-case scenarios. Hence, while we exclude 2-in-1s like the MS Surface Pro, we do include Chromebooks, which have a hard-wired keyboard, in the PC volume."

Yoga 3 Pro

IDC's reasoning is, "If it has a detachable keyboard, it's not a notebook PC." That means something like the Surface Pro 3 is not a personal computer, but something like the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, does count as a PC.

So why does Gartner ignore Chromebooks in its PC shipment numbers, but does include Windows-based tablets, some of which don't come with a keyboard? We contacted Gartner and got this response from its PC analyst Mika Kitagawa:

"We include Windows tablets, but do not include Chromebooks because we segment the market based on use case. What users can do on Windows tablets and regular laptops/desktops are slimmer. These devices offer high productivity and multiple functionalities. It can run multiple applications and have a good multitasking capability regardless of form factor. For instance, Windows tablets can be used as a "desktop" by attaching an external monitor and a keyboard.""On the other hand, Android and iOS tablets do not have functionalities that PCs can offer. It has limited multitasking capability, and its primary purpose is content consumption. Chromebooks look like a laptop, but what a user can do on Chromebook is also limited. Lack of offline capability, especially, makes Chromebook as a "lesser" functional device compared to the 'PCs.'""Thus, we think that discussing the market by form factor is not relevant. Especially since some laptops now have tablet functionalities such as detachable laptops and bendable laptops (=hybrid). These are tablet and PC all in one device (2-1s). If we segment the market by form factor, it would be hard to define such product in the market."

Who's right?

As we get ready for Microsoft to reveal more about its consumer plans for Windows 10 next week in Redmond, there's still a debate over what a PC is or isn't. This is not just a philosophical debate; it could also define how the entire PC industry is monitored in the future. There's been a ton of talk in the last few years that the rise of the iPad and other tablets means that consumers are no longer interested in PCs. However, both Gartner and IDC agree that tablet growth has now slowed down, and consumers seem to be going back to buying new PCs.

The launch of Windows 10 could cause that trend to expand even more.

We won't know the full story unless both Gartner and IDC agree to a set of PC hardware definitions, and that may not happen for a long time, if ever.

In the meantime, we want to know your thoughts. Do you agree with Gartner's or IDC's viewpoint, or is there a third level that combines elements of both? Let's us know in the comments.

317 Comments
  • A PC is a personal computer running x86 architecture (IBM). If you can use it for yourself, it's a PC.
  • *facepalm*
  • IBM technically started the term, and the first IBM PC ran Intel, with DOS. And so if it has Intel and DOS/Windows/proper OS, then it's a PC.
  • IBM PC is too narrow. I think Gartner has the better definition:  A General Purpose device with a broad set of capabilities for content creation as well as consumption. It can be argued that the iPad and it's excellent ecosystem can be considered a PC.  I can almost buy that.  Almost.  What gives me pause is that the productivity aspects of the iPad are bolted on after-the-fact.  Keyboard cases for iPad are a top accessory category.  But iOS doesn't support a full-fledged cursor, making prolonged text input and editing a bit of a chore.   In iOS there doesn't seem to be any concept of addtional pointing devices beyond touch input.  There is no concept of pen or mouse support, stopping any accessory efforts straight away or making them limp along for years with lackluster results (see the army of disapointing pen solutions for iPad).  I am not saying these things are absolutely required for improved productivity.  But these limitations seem to counter the "broad capabilities" requirement. Some Android tablets/phablets have pen support.  And I think some support external keyboards with some basic USB drivers.  I think Android OS is more PC-like then Chrome OS. Clearly, Windows Tablets satisfy the "broad capabilities" best.  At worst case, you need a USB OTG dongle and you're off to the races, pluging in all manner of accessories.  Granted, it also means you take on some added burden (like the need for antivirus). It could be argued that Android can easily transition into this definition as the hardware ecosystem continues to expand, but iPad seems to be purposefully touch-focused (which is both good and bad).
  • If it's running Windows or in rare cases Mac... Then it is a PC. Chrome book crap should not be in this conversation
  • What about Linux?
  • Linux is an OS kernel, not an OS.  You would have to specify a specific Linux based OS for you question to make sense.  Otherwise, people could be talking about completely different types of devices (Linux PC vs. Linux based router).
  • Doesn't need to be Intel.
  • Whoops, forgot AMD and the other x86 makers. And, MS proved us wrong with Windows rt, so ARM is now a respected architecture.
  • Right, only 2 points to consider here: 1) Is it personal (so largely not cloud based)? 2) Does it compute? Very simple.
  • +1520
  • So then a calculator is a PC?
  • The z80-powered ones are.
  • First thing that comes in my mind when we say PC is something very bulky,can be disassembled and complicated...for me laptops are pc.But surface....
  • Why not all 3 (minus the bulk)?
  • Surface and disassembled?? Ummm...its kinda unibody..disassembling it is somewhat beyond our scope..
  • "​... PC is something very bulky,can be disassembled and complicated ..." WOW thanks for telling me... didn't know my truck is a PC!
  • AMD, anyone?
  • RT is not a PC. It is awful.
  • If RT is not a PC then Android, iOS and Chromebook cannot be a PC.
  • None of those devices should be considered as PCs. There, argument over.
  • Wrong. If it is personal and it computes then it is a personal computer. Very simple.
  • Then smartphones are PCs. They are personal and they compute.
  • I can't think of any computer that is as personal as a Smartphone.
  • Maybe they should simply define ecosystem.  How many iOS/OSX systems sold?  How many Windows systems sold?  How many Chrome systems sold?  The configuration of the hardware does not change the functionality of the system.  Obvioulsy a 7" Win 8.1 tablet is less productive than a 15" laptop.  But it can still do pretty much the same things as a Laptop.  Same for MBA.  But we have to agree that an iPhone/iPad cannot do the same things as a MBA.  Same argument with a Chormebook/Android.  Software defines capability.  HArdware defines perfromance.  These firms should measure ecosystems not form factors.  Or measure both.  10 years ago there was only 2 primary ecosystems, WinTel and OSX.  Now there are three or 6 (WinTel, WP, iOS, OSX, Android, Chrome) depending on how you define an ecosystem.
  • I actually think you are on to something here. I think PC is just too broad a term to use as a bin. Even on a many Android phones, I could use a BT keyboard and mouse, and larger screen via HDMI (HML), and run Office products, making capability (my ability to get things done) on par with some 'PCs'. It would be interesting to see how different ecosystems (Win, OSX, iOS, Android, Chrome, WP, even Linux distros) are fairing, to understand what capabilities/features people are gravitating towards. Then it would reasonable to re-bin into form factors, desktops, traditional laptop, tablet with dedicated detachable keyboards, standalone tablets (which often could be paired with a BT setup), phones. When you have numbers that lump Chromebooks in with Surface Pro 3, or not, doesn't seem to provide any useful insight. If you see people are buying traditional laptop form factors rather than detachables, of any OS, that is interesting. If you find more people are buying iOS over Windows, regardless of form factor, that is interesting. The whole point behind all this is to get some valuable insight.
  • I'm a PC! I'm personal and I commute... Wait...
  • You're spot on!
  • Spot on.
  • I know that, but MS proved that ya don't need an x86 to run Windows (albeit the lack of features)
  • I am sure that you could do everything on the RT with Arm if Microsoft would allow you doing it (certificates for installation) and if you would have all the apps recompiled for Arm.
  • You can. RT was jailbroken and people were doing JUST THAT!
  • Laptop is not PC also. You cant change it parts.
  • Changing parts has nothing to do with being a PC. Nothing.
  • But, but ... Windows NT ran on x86, DEC Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC and Itanium.  Were systems based on those processors not PCs?  ARM is just another processor.    And Surface 2 with RT isn't so bad.
  • RT is limited, but it's not awful. And yes, it's still a PC, as it's usable for content creation AND consumption, using a wide variety of inputs and outputs.
  • RT is pretty decent.  I know a lawyer still carrying around a first generation SurfaceRT for all her work that thinks the device is more than sufficient and isn't looking to upgrade any time soon.
  • She gets paid by the hour, and more so with a very slow and limited device.
  • limited depends on what your use case is. For many people RT isn't limiting at all. I don't think you have a very good understanding of what RT is, at all.
  • I have a Surface RT, it can't do squat that a PC can do. It can't run any software and add ons that require x86 devices. It is probably capable, but not allowed by MS.
  • Sure it can.  Even out of the box. It can run all the same WinRT Apps in the modern UI that a PC can do. It can connect to and make use of most of the USB peripherals and printers a PC can. It has the full .net framework and powershell and can run the same cmdlets the PC can. It has RDP support with RemoteFX and RemoteApp for the same RDP experience a PC has. It has the same multi-display and multi-audio support a PC has. and with a simple "jailbreak" (allowing RT to run unsigned code) it can run any .NET or other desktop program that has been compiled for ARM (and that is a rather long list). It is essentially the very same Windows 8.1 that runs on x86, just running on ARM instead.
  • Right! People act like Windows never ran on other CPU architectures/platforms before. Windows NT 4.0 (in 1996) ran on Intel x86, Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_NT_4.0 ... The OS was built to be compiled for many platforms.
  • So, a Macbook can't run any of the applications your 'PC' can either. That make it not a PC? This is a fascinating discussion very reminiscent of the blind men and the elephant. It appears a PC is what a use believes a PC to be. Does make it hard to count though.
  • @920Walker RT is not awful. I purchased a day 1 RT and the thing is awesome for what it does. I don't need a SP3 power when I'm on the go and RT has never let me down with its capabilities...
  • @FunGuy13 Stop justifying your purchase to these people. Some people only know how to attack something that they themselves will never use, regardless of if it is capable or not. There is nothing wrong with using Surface RT. Nothing. It is a very capable machine for what it does. And, those that go into the purchase knowing its capabilities are informed and better off than those that blindly bash something that they never have any intention of using.    A few friends bought the original Surface RT. And, all they use it for is browsing, games, and Office. I'd say, they got their money's worth. I'd say, you got your money's worth, as well.
  • I would agree on getting my money's worth if it didn't crash so often. It was replaced 2X at MS store during its first year. IMO it is not a PC just like a LeapFrog children's tablet is not a PC. My Surface 3, yes, IMO is a PC.
  • I got a Surface 2 about 3 weeks before Xmas, and I barely touch my laptop anymore. I have a desktop for my primary work and the Surface does everything I need when away from the desk. Since I got it, 5 other people in the office went out and purchased them as well after seeing just how much it can do. From a business perspective - full office, full IE (desktop browser), maps to network drives, built printer support so I've hooked it up to the network printers at work, Citrix app hooks into the Citrix environment for any business applications they need, great battery life, the keyboard, and the desktop experience means they now all look at iPads as an over priced joke, and are all very pleased with their purchase. One of them uses it as their sole computer away from work, one ditched their macbook and another ditched their laptop. I'd say they are very capable devices :)
  • ​@MERCDROID ​What @FunGuy13 has done is post his opposing view on the "It is awful" comment and I think it's good he did it or people who have no clue would go away thinking that since that negative statement has not been challenged, therefore RT must really be truely awful.
  • I picked up a day 1 RT as well, got an SP3 just before Christmas and my RT is still my go to device. I think it's awesome and does 95% of what I need...so I agree.
  • x64 anyone?
  • Still x86. The actual term is x86-64
  • That's not entirely correct since there is a x64 only architecture called Itanium. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Actually Itanium is no longer supported, at least in Microsoft's OSes. Its architecture is IA-64 which is 64-bit from the gound up, inconpatible with IA-32 (aka x86).  x64 as the 64-bit extension to IA-32 was mostly AMD's doing, however due to their cross licensing deals the architecture won out.    
  • PC is the computer which I can upgrade or change part by part anytime not like use & throw laptops and tablets.
  • What about macbooks??? Like the air??? And I think they using proprietary hd's now... So u can't change out the hd's... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • ^^This
  • Incorrect.
  • Hi John: Thanks for the article. I read your original piece on the differing IDC and Gartner numbers on PC shipments that you posted on Tuesday Jan 13, 2015 8:23. I was a bit disappointed after reading how the IDC excludes devices with detachable keyboards from be classified as a PC. I made the followinf comment on yesterdays article, which I feel is a relevant response to the question you pose at this end of this article. (I'm wondering if the commentary to that original article inspired this piece). Here's my response: "I really believe tablets (hybrids) with detachable keyboards should be included in IDCs numbers. The 2-in-1 form factor is the direction Microsoft, with its "hybrid OS", is directing the market. Many OEMs have appropriately adopted hardware designs that fit with that vision.
    Numbers that fail to include those hybrid form factors in my opinion are retaining what is becoming an archaic view of what a PC is. The industry is moving away from the "legacy" view of a PC as strictly a device with a desktop or laptop form factor. Consumers are using PCs more and more in a mobile fashion. Windows 8(10) and apps(programs) are increasingly designed for mobile AND static interaction. This must be acknowledged as a true and legitimate paradigm shift in what is categorized as a PC. IDC will likely be forced to change it's methods as it becomes progressively clearer that a PC is ALSO a hybrid device as the increasingly mobile computing consumers purchase more and more of these devices made by more and more OEMs at accessible price points and a diverse range of forms and capabilities in the coming year. The last quarter of 2014 was promising with a range of low priced Windows tablets and hybids. And CES2015 gave a great foreshadow of what we can expect from OEMs on the Windows front with hybrid devices. I believe that Microsoft was successful with the Surface Pro 3 acting as an aspirational device for OEMs. Many OEMs have taken the torch and are running with high quality devices that will really showcase the benefits of Microsoft's OS, especially Windows 10.
    IDC, may be just a tad short sighted, or they may just be waiting for the wave to hit. Either way I am confident they will be changing the way they measure PC sales in time." (originally posted by me on John Callaham's Windows Central Article: "Gartner Reports PC Shipments Went Up in Q4 2014, but IDC Says Otherwise" - January 14, 2015 11:11:35) These are my thoughts. Thanks for the opportunity to share.  @JLTechWord
  • Good stuff.
  • People also seem to forget that when laptops first grew in popularity, there was a great deal of debate about whether "the laptop is killing the PC", and many analysts didn't include laptops in PC sales, despite the fact that they were useful for most of the same tasks as desktops. What's great about the PC is this: It's able, thanks to a highly adaptable range of hardware, software and operating systems, to incorporate advances in technology as they happen. Laptops were a primary example of this, and now tablets, particularly those that run full blown OS's like Windows, are PC's, too.
  • But laptops were never very popular, too bulky. Perhaps you mean Notebooks?
  • No. He means laptops. They are called fucking laptops you smartass. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laptop
  • This is why the PC will *never* die. Never.
  • they will prob count if their biased (just throwing it out their) once Apple does it, would their mind change?
  • IDC is not going to change its standards, the industry is changing to match IDCs definitions. IDC had separate trackers for PCs and tablets so all devices are covered anyway, nothing to be concerned about.
  • Anything running windows (and maybe Linux) is pc. End of discussion.
  • Dr SP, since you say that anything running Windows is PC, it appears that my Lumia 1020 will get upgraded to a PC in a few months when Windows 10 rolls out :D
  • Well, then we'll have to change the definition again at that time.
  • My 1020 already runs Windows (Phone 8.1). So I guess it already is a PC.
  • It's not a crappy apple device.
  • I don't know. I think both have their place. One should look at it from a form factor. Desktop/Laptop/Notbook/Tablets/Phones. The other should look at it via architecture ARM/x86/RISC/PowerPC... And perhaps one more by OS Windows/ChromeOS/OSX.  What is a PC? Well, what is a computer first. Any thing that can be used for calculation. At least that is the bare bones description. A modern computer is obviously more complex. I would argue that there are now two types of modern personal computers... dumbPC's (sort of like feature phones) and smartPC's. Regardless of form function, Andriod/iOS/WindowsRT would win the dumbPC due to their sandboxed-consumption based usecase. Whereas the smartPC label would be saved for OS's that can handle the higher bits of instruction. If you can use Windows or Mac OS X on a phone then that is a modern "smartPC." Peripherals do not matter thanks to "the cloud."   Thanks my 2 cents.  
  • doesn't need to be x86
  • You do see where your definition fails pretty obviously, right? "If you can use it for yourself, it's a PC". Well, if that's the definition, then pretty much everything right down to the lowliest smartphone is a PC. Let's try a more utilitarian approach: A PC is a computer with an operating system that supports a broad range of productivity and consumption activities, regardless of processor or form factor. A key problem the who world seems unable to grasp right now is that while they're all arguing about whether tablets are killing PC's or not, PC's are *becoming* tablets.
  • Two categories: X86 PCs (Windows, Mac, Linux) and ARM PCs (iOS, Android, RT, Chrome)
  • there are x86 androids and cromebooks
  • I define a pc as a machine which can do everything in the world of computing and sp3 is far more capable with my definition.
  • That is correct, the form factor doesn't matter.
  • There are x86 Android tablets and phones. They would have to be counted as PCs by your x86 definition. My take on this is that Gartners use case explanation sounds ridiculous. Yes you can connect a $99 HP Stream 7 to an external monitor and be productive but how many people actually do something like that. Cheap 7-8" Windows tablets are primarily being used for consumption. Furthermore they exclude Chrome OS devices, but Chromebooks are being heavily used in education for productivity and not for consumption. And on the subject of multitasking, Android devices have increasingly more multitasking capabilities. If Gartner wants to track Windows PCs YoY shipments (including tablets) then they should just exclude Mac from their data. An alternative suggestion would be to count any device sold with a keyboard as a PC including Chromebooks. Yes that would exclude Surface, but presumably there is a tablet shipments report that would include Surface instead.
  • To Be (a PC) or Not to Be (a PC) That is The Question
    https://jltechword.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/to-be-a-pc-or-not-to-be-a-pc...
  • Gartner response look like someone from MS was answering
  • Productivity productivity productivity
  • Productivity is hard to define, too! I'm a network engineer and my productivity is defined by walking through server rooms with my work laptop. It's about 2.5kg 15" device with Windows Pro because my work software does not exist for Mac OS or Linux. Also I cannot be productive on a desktop computer because it MUST be mobile for my line of work - so if PC means productivity then desktop computer cannot be a PC in my line of productivity.
  • I was being sarcastic of course, but IDC and Gartner really SHOULD embrace new forms of personal computing devices. A line must be drawn yearly, because technology advances...
  • Probably true, but then year over year trending becomes meaningless if you keep changng the makeup of the buckets.
  • It had much more logic than the former. Although, I agree that Microsoft would likey highly approve of their response.
  • Yep Gartner seems more logical and realistic. The productivity/OS perspective is much more relevant in real world use. How would the Surface Pro 3 not be regarded as a PC, while a 200 dollar chromebook is regarded as one just because of a hardwired keyboard??? And with so many PCs coming with detachable keyboards, probably only desktops and some ultrabooks would eventually fit IDCs PC category!
  • :D
  • ​@D M C AND your comment is something like someone from Google is commenting... and since you're a paid Google troll, you couldn't say anything otherwise than what you said. You were an MS hater all the way from when you were still commenting at WMPoweruser years ago.
  • You are still alive tips_y?
  • I refuse to accept any computer that doesn't run Windows as a PC. Sorry, but I can't.
  • This. A PC is a Windows on Intel computer. Full stop.
  • AMD?
  • The very first PCs did not run Windows. They were computers like the Apple ][, the Atari 800, Timex -Sinclair 1000, Commodore Vic 20 and 64, the TRS-80, and more, and they all ran a form of DOS. Even the first PC with the name "PC" ran DOS.
  • If we consider what was called a pc in the beginning then we'll have to add all the smart electronic products in this category
  • Yup.
  • IMHO, PC is far too generic a term to be using for this discussion. If you want to distinguish further than just"personal computer" you need to do so these days on either form factor (desktop, laptop, tablet, convertible, ultra, etc.) or OS. Calling a certain group PC and another group something else doesn't work with all the options an use cases out there.
  • Absolutely 100% correct. The only computers that 'PC' excludes are non-personal computers such as cloud based devices.
  • And servers, and there are still some mainframes out there. ;)
  • Very narrow concept.
    What about Mac and Linux PC?
    May be you don't even think them as OS
  • Mac is just a classic product from apple which shows windows can run a lot better on a better hardware.
  • How so? £ for £ I can easily build a Hackintosh that'll trounce any Mac.
  • Nobody said you can't build better hardware.
  • No. We don't :P lol
  • It's more like this: Gamers don't game on Mac or Linux. Gaming on those OSes is a joke. When gamers say that they are a PC gamer, they are 100% always referring to a computer running Windows. I'm so used to putting the terms PC and Windows together that I do not think I can start referring to other computers as PCs.
  • Well, there's the definitive response...If you can game on it, it's a PC.  Maybe we should just use the 'can it run Doom' criteria.
  • What is PC. When it does personal computing its a PC for me. May be a Desktop, Laptop, Notebook, Tablet and even a Phone.
  • Best comment of this topic awards goes to you sir
  • This! A phone too! But not just any phone, though.
  • That's more of a textbook definition IMHO! You wouldn't be referring to your typical iPhone or WP in the real world when you mention the word PC right??
  • Why not? My old Pocket PC is clearly a PC, it's right there in the name. Why not modern pocketables? There are PCs and CCs (Cloud Computers) and local servers. That pretty much covers most things.
  • Why not a phone? What if we see an Intel powered phone running a full version of Windows IF and WHEN connected to external monitor and keyboard? This appears to be doing the same job as my desktop PC, no?
  • I would mention my WP, as it does what it should do.
  • If we start dwelling upon the initial definition then its gonna include every smart electronic product into a pc(even today's calculators,smartwatches etc). So what's a pc? Everything running Windows(not arm)is pc.rest is;I don't know what it is..
  • Yeah, at this point I think the word PC has essentially been hijacked by Windows and Linux machines. Even Macs are called Macs to distinguish them from the others although they are fundamentally PCs too... It's become more of a software thing..
  • A PC is any device that can be used to run actual software for doing actual work.
  • This is also for a debate. What is "actual software"? Chromebook can cache some kind of office suite for offline use, so it's a bit of a productivity machine but I still wouldn't count it as a PC.
  • Office type programs are actual software but they are limited in the type of work they can support. A PC runs every type of software for real work.
  • So iPad is closer to being a PC than Chromebook will ever be.
  • It comes down to having an OS with many capabilities.
  • This is exactly how I think about it and why I wouldn't consider Chromebook a PC. Just like we wouldn't consider a calculator a PC because of its limited scope.
  • Beer Wars on my TI-83+ begs to differ. 
  • If it is cloud based then it can hardly be personal. Chrome books can compute though so they would be CCs? Cloud Computers?
  • I'm not sure I would agree here. Except for the connectivity requirement, cloud computing is fairly indistinguisable from local computing from the point of view of the user. To me it looks like my documents are in my file system, and worked with using my applications. If we require the device to be able to operate autonomously to be personal, we would be eliminiting a large segment of devices that people use everyday to do personal things with cloud resources.
  • I think that definition is just far too basic. By the same logic a calculator would also be a PC. Gartner's got it right  
  • Standard laptops and Macs should be a PC. Ipads, Nooks and etc., with no keyboards are tablets. Lenovo's yoga's and surface Pro's with detachable keyboards or shape shifting abilities are convertible tablets. Chromebooks are netbooks (is that term still around). But if I remember that commercial between Microsoft vs. Apple (I'm a Mac vs. I'm a PC) then a Mac is just a Mac and all windows computers are PC's. Anything running Ubuntu and other stuff can be considered PC's I suppose as well because they have no category. I think I just confused myself. Lol
  • Lol!
  • The Surface Pro 3 is a PC in my opinion. It's powerful, runs full windows and is innovative. Can't understand how a detachable keyboard doesn't make it a PC.
  • Right. When was the last time you saw a desktop that DIDN'T have a detachable keyboard?
  • I'm still trying to figure out that wired keyboard comment.
  • My desktop has no wired keyboard, and I cannot attach my wireless keyboard at all, so it is not a PC? Hmm, sound poorly thought out as a concept.
  • Take that IDC :) LOL
  • Of course it is, it's stupid that IDC don't include it. The keyboard is necessary, it just so happens it's detachable. That's done as much to let people choose different keyboards as opposed to saying that it is going to be used as a tablet.
  • well technically speaking, desktops have detachable keyboards :{D
  • But if I run my SP3 in a dock driving two external monitors with an external keyboard and mouse, and it isn't a PC, what is it?
  • Yeah, I kind of think anything with a Core i processor is a PC...I mean, my Surface Pro 3 with Core i7 is pretty damn powerful.
  • It's a good question. To me a PC is anything running an OS that allows proper multitasking, with multiple processes running and that can display more than one at once.
    I think there's a degree of productivity and power to it too. Obviously most PCs can do far more intensive things (for example, post processing point clouds from laser scans) than most tablets.
    Originally I was inclined to say running on x86 or x86-64 based architecture but changed my mind. I'm inclined to say a RPi is a PC a d that uses an ARM processor.
  • See, I'm old school. I wrote my first program in 1981 on an Apple ][+, and that was a personal computer. My Commodore Vic 20 and late later 64 were personal computers. And my Lumia Icon has many times the power of the PC technology that put the first space shuttle into orbit. To me, these are all under the personal computer, our PC umbrella. Now I know that there is a distinction between Apple and PC these days, so I draw that distinction around the difference between Windows and Mac, not PC and Mac, but simply because I look at PC as a more generic, basic, back to the roots term. I was using the term PC before the first IBM PC.
  • Yep, my ZX-81 is a personal computer. That's what it was sold as and that's why Sir Clive has a knighthood. Anyone who dares criticise Sir Clive's definition on here should, of course, be banned from owning a PC for ever. How about, if it doesn't have a copy of BASIC built in to the firmware it is not a PC as it doesn't have native ability to program it without using external components?
  • I so wanted one of those back in the day. I did get to tinker with one about a decade ago. My ex-wife's grandfather was a retired high school shop teacher who was always into technology, and he had one that I tinkered with. Still had an Apple ][c as well. I miss her grandpa. ;)
  • Ah, yes. Built-in BASIC. When the school switched to IBM PCs, I could not continue teaching myself assembler, which I had started on the Apple. There was no development environment at all.
  • Those devices were PCs of their time. They were the most capable computers available to the masses. Small form factor devices today may have more computing power than those devices but are not setup to do what their slightly larger siblings are capable of. If you can't run CAD programs, programming programs, enterprise programs, you are not quite a PC. The capability is there. A non-RT Surface and tablets running Windows 8 are PCs. A chromebook is not. Maybe in 1984 it would have been, a mediocre one.
  • But to look at what PC means, you simply need to know the acronym and that it stands for personal computer. All of these devices, from smartphones to desktops, even used in business, are personal computers. Computers used by a person (as opposed to a mainframe used by multiple people at once). This discussion will never be settled because there are to many o opinions that won't be swayed. So I'm just going back to the basics.
  • Ffs. If we use your ridiculously broad and stubborn definition, WHAT IS THE GOD DAMN POINT IN TRACKING THE NUMBERS? We can't compare tablet, mobile and desktop sales independently of another to see trends IF YOU ARE LUMPING IT ALL IN THE SAME CATEGORY. "My calculator is technically a PC herp de derp deer der di do"; if this is going to be your contribution then I just give up!
  • This is more of a reply than your post deserves.
  • Though your negative attitude and profanity show that you don't deserve it, I'll spell it out for you. You made my case for me. Your calculator is even a personal computer. This is why in one of my other posts I spelled out that the divisions should be by form factor, OS, or something actually meaningful. You're welcome.
  • Cad https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/autocad-360/dcjeclnkejmbepoibf... Code https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/codenvy-ide/lefigjbiimiemfhjmi... And the insurance company I work for has a whole suite of enterprise web apps that I access in Chrome daily.  
  • AutoCAD 360 is freeware. It's not real CAD software.
  • Do what??? So you're saying that all those free apps on your phone aren't real apps then, right? They're freeware. Your argument isn't even an argument.
  • When you can run a business with a phone or non X86 tablet they will be PCs. And yes, while there are some useful apps they are nothing compared to what is available to run on a PC.
  • And here we've heard one man's opinion. Thank you.
  • What argument?
  • But my ZX-81 still does all it ever did. Has it ceased to be a PC? Doesn't sound likely.
  • Amen! I keep saying that I want to pick up a vintage PC, whether it be an Apple ][ variant, or a Commodore 64, which I later had... I remember entering the machine code from Compute Magazine, to create my own BBS, and when I was done after months of work (I don't remember if the code was spread over two or more months, but I know it wasn't all in one month), my dad said that no, we could not get a second phone line and a modem. :/
  • In 1984 a Chromebook would have been a brick. The internet was pretty limited wired or wireless.
  • PC is a Personal Computer. Period.
  • You didn't define what a PC is, you merely broke down the abbreviation. You also spelled out your punctuation.
  • LOL
  • Daniel has the point here.
  • Sorry my bad :p
  • I'm more on the Gartner side, but I truly believe that if Microsoft makes an Atom powered phone which can run desktop apps if connected to an external monitor - I would even count those in the "personal computer", while I cannot decide on the Chromebooks. Those are really "just" web browsers with a keyboard!? And with HTML5 this word "just" can really be stretched a lot!
  • A real pc is an Ultrabook. No convertible or removable keyboard. Stay true
  • What about a convertible UltraBook (yoga)..?
  • Laptop is not PC.
  • Ultrabook is not a laptop. It's not even a notebook.
  • Yes it is. Fact.
  • Not just yet.
  • PS, chromebooks run a browser, not an operating system. Try running the chrome browser on a REAL Windows PC and see if you can tell the difference from a chromebook.....
  • Gartner is right Even a Windows PC can be counted as Chromebook with Chrome installed. IDC is quite wrong and stupid.
  • This remains me when Steve Ballmer was asked by Walter Mossberg (All Things Digital) what is a PC.
  • I would say that a PC is any computer regardless if it has a detachable keyboard or not. Like the surface pro, its a full fledged operating system that is running, so you cant deny its PC categorization based on the operating system. With that, chromebooks would also be considered a PC.
  • But cloud computing can never be personal, other shared computers do the computing elsewhere.
  • I consider my laptops and tablets Personal computers... They have full fledged windows 8 except I can take it with me wherever I go. Oh what a world.
  • PC is a computer which runs Windows. Not Mac OS, Not Chrome OS, Not Android but just WINDOWS!
  • What about Cheet OS? Dorit OS? Frit OS? Ques OS?
  • Heh.
  • Yea yea yea. 80% or would just call a laptop, whether it's running OSX, chrome os or windows a laptop. Just become tech enthusiasts want to make up definitions they are wat the people call them.
  • Only devices with Windows 8+ as the start screen truly makes your computer "personal". ;)
    I should write commercials.
  • Gartner's right, taking into account the OS makes sense. A device running full Windows, Linux or Mac OS is a PC. Anything else, running Windows RT or Chrome OS, isn't.
  • What about my Pocket PC? That's a PC (clue's in the name) but doesn't run 'full Windows'.
  • Oh just STOP.
  • My key factors of what a PC is to date: 1. Can install legacy apps
    2. Doesn't need to be online to work
    3. Has a mouse that you can navigate
  • Gartnel is right, otherwise all phones would also be considered PC's... A pc has a full OS capable of much more than media consumption.
  • But a phone technically IS a PC. Herp de derp!
  • /s
  • Yeah, it is, no /s needed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_Edge | while never reality, the concept is the same; dock the phone and it behaves as a fully functional desktop PC, undock it and all the functionality is still there just behind a different interface.
  • Combine the two but keep track of what the general public thinks. In the eyes of the public, a PC is a Windows machine. So you cannot include Mac and Chrome in the counts. But tablets are another animal altogther. I say subdivide it like Microsoft. Make a few categories:
    PC Tablet = Anthing running Windows under 9" screen (unless hard wired keyboard)
    PC = Anything running Windows over 9" screen (regardless of keyboard)
    iPad = Duh
    Mac = Any device running OSX
    Chromebook = Chromebooks and Android devices over 9" screen regardless of formfactor
    Android Tablet = Any device running Android under 9" screen (unless hard wired keyboard)
  • What of Linux machines??
  • Seriously, an Android tablet over 9" is a Chromebook?  I guess the upcoming iPad Pro will be a MacBook.
  • I never believed in what defines a PC. Its abbreviation is clear, everyone uses a computer that has his or her Personal uses. It can be a Windows running computer, OSX, Linux, so many choices and different designs and different use.
  • A PC is a device that runs an operating system meant traditionally for laptops/desktops. So Windows (not WP or RT), OS X, ChromeOS, and Linux. Android, iOS, WP, and RT are not included. A Surface Pro should count. An HP Chromebook should count. A MBP should count. A Linux Mint desktop should count. Easy.
  • By this definition, that Samsung Gear watch that was hacked to run Windows 98 would be a PC. haha
  • I like to categorize them with screen diagonal... Under 8" it is not intended as PC but only as tablet or smartphone...
  • So would a Nexus 9, iPad Air, or Samsung Note 10.1 be considered a PC?
  • Yes!
  • A PC (as far as I know) is a device running on either an x86 or a 64-bit processor.
    Pretty much all Windows devices (excluding RT and other ARM-based distros) are PCs. Macs are PCs. If you're running Android x86, then it's a PC. I would even go as far to say that Chrome OS devices *can* be PCs if they have the right processor architecture.
  • Any one can send link of wallpaper which's in 3rd image...
  • While I think Gartner's reasoning is a little strange, I do think the devices they counted are "more right". A Surface and various 2-in-1s are PCs and there's no reason to leave them out. Although leaving out Chromebooks is odd... To me, judging solely on form factor seems rather antiquated.
  • If your device is ok for browsing the internet, watching videos, playing mediocre games, typing some basic documents and running a few useful and many more useless apps, it is not a PC.
  • Wouldn't IDC's definition mean that Blackberrys with their hardware keyboard mean that they are technically PCs?
  • Cha-Ching!
  • That explains why the numbers are going down then
  • PC aka Personal Computer, for me is about what you can do with it, and not what it looks like. For example, you can do 90% of general taks of all users on the device Y, 60% on X and 30% on Z. The PC would be device Y, since is the device that most fit to every users. A real example, you could have a Chromecast or the new Intel Stick connected to a monitor, they look the same, but the purpose of Chromecast is to be a media device, while the Intel Stick you can use it for anything. Chromecast isn't a PC, but the Intel Stick is.
  • A personal computer (PC) is surely a more relevant name to PERSONAL devices, like mobiles or tablets.  My mobile is very personal to me, it lives in MY pocket.  My work PC is not really that PERSONAL, i use it, but it don't take it home.  My Android tablet lives at home, that's pretty personal i guess, as is my Surface & of course my desktop machine and my HTPC all fall under the traditional Personal Computer category... I would say any 'modern OS running on a device' is a PC. (obviously TVs, watches, cars, audio systems etc. all compute stuff, but they are not really personal computers, more 'other electronic devices' with some sort of computing going on).       
  • Mobile PC vs PC anyway for me size would be more define between them and I would erase tablet and phablet from the Tech Historyand Fully erase the people who call "iPad" its tablet both they are stupid!
  • How many abacuses and calculators were sold in the past year? I used to always define PC as a desktop computer, but then again I never owned a laptop.
  • Growing up, people used the term "PC" to describe Windows-Powered Computers ... If it runs Windows on a Desktop Computer, Its a PC ... Of course that was before the AIOs, Tablets & the Laptops.
    But that changed ... Now we have Hybrids\Convertibles, Tablets, PixelSense, Ultrabooks, Touch-AIOs, ...etc all running Windows & just as productive & functional as a Traditional Desktop machine. I get IDC's reasoning, but just because you detached the Keyboard from a Surface, it functionality won't magically disappear & get crippled. Also, you can use a modern Touch-Enabled AIO entirely without connecting a keyboard ... By their logic, it doesn't count as a PC anymore? Gartner's definition sound about right & I agree about the Chromebook.
  • Growing up I used the term PC to identify the Apple ][+ I used at school, and the Commodore Vic 20 and later 64 I had at home. Then came the IBM PC. All of these ran DOS. I know I'm in the minority, but to me PC has always been a generic term, not one that identified with an OS.
  • Yes the word PC has evolved, even Apple doesn't refer to their PC class devices as PCs. They are now the Mac variants..
  • So a Mac is no longer a personal computer then.
  • I'll answer a question with another question.  Why can't we just call them all "computing devices" and obsolete the phrase "personal computer"?  If you want to know about the market share of desktops, laptops, 2-in-1's, tablets, phones, IoT devices, etc. then collect sales data based on those device categories.
  • Yes. PC truly is an obsolete term, one that I have used as a generic term since the first Apple ][+ I used in school. I agree with breaking down by either form factor or OS
  • For me it's this: Pc- x86 and x64 platform, that can run legacy apps.. It can be used with Linux, windows, as a server ( Linux or Windows), a very powerful and flexible machines.. Even in the begging they came in different forms ( rectangular shape, boxes, etc) and they're input interface still have changed in years that passed ( from a simple keyboard, to mouse's, touch screens, etc) Not a PC: any ARM device.. I still consider most arm devices as toys and not a serious machines.. That is changing, but in meantime I don't consider them as serious machines..
  • I can agree toys in my eyes
  • Agreed.
  • So would an 8" Android running an Intel Atom processor be a PC to you?
  • If running Android, no.
  • Why not? Thus far, your only distinction has been x86 or ARM, and Android and Windows can run on both. Plus, even then, I disagree with the premise that the architecture somehow defines when something is a PC. The way Microsoft and Google are pushing things, an app should be able to run whether on an ARM device or x86. So in the future, if productivity apps are written this way and there is no distinction between the two architectures in terms of what apps run on it, you still wouldn't consider it a PC? That seems more backwards than the IDC IMHO.
  • Gartner did a right/perfect analysis
  • Actually speaking there are no PCs really what we are talking about are a Monitor, a CPU, a keyboard and a mouse (the bulky fist-sized not those track pads). There exist production of such devices on very low number in today's world.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, a PC is a... something needs a microprocessor and an operating system to run... Right? Applications are optional? o_O
  • It's almost like cheesecake, is it a cake or a pie? Technically PC are personal computers, so anything that can compute and can be for personal use should be a "PC." They should really be measuring Productivity Devices versus Consumption Devices which is what it seems like they're trying to do, just they're labeling is trying to align to what consumers are familiar with.
  • PC is a personal(desktop) computer. Pc is a big box with motherboard, hard drives and etc in it. Laptops are laptops not pc. You can change gpu in pc and you cant in laptop. This is true.
  • No its not, you can upgrade the GPUs in some laptops. It's not as easy, but its definitely possible.
  • I mean pc is full size desktop and not compressed version called "laptop"
  • You're still wrong
  • Well if you break it down by definition it looks something like this. Pretty simple really. If its mine and it computes is a Personal Computer. IMHO it has nothing to do with chips,OS's, Country of origin etc. Does it compute and is it personal to the user. If so its a PC. The one thing I think everyone can agree on is that they are all devices to compute with. While I agree the Ipad is not an optimal PC and most people dont use it to do work it is capable of computing. My 920 replaced my laptop form the most part when I am on the road 2 years ago. Now my SP3 and Band have replaced my phone for everthing except call. Humor Fully Intended yet usually never understood. Definitions below   Personal 1. of, relating to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion. 2. relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person: a personal favor; one's personal life; a letter marked “Personal.”. 3. intended for use by one person: a personal car. 4. referring or directed to a particular person in a disparaging or offensive sense or manner, usually involving character, behavior, appearance, etc.: personal remarks. 5. making personal remarks or attacks: to become personal in a dispute. 6. done, carried out, held, etc., in person: a personal interview. 7. pertaining to or characteristic of a person or self-conscious being:   Computer 1. a programmable electronic device designed to accept data, perform prescribed mathematical and logical operations at high speed, and display the results of these operations. Mainframes, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones are some of the different types of computers. Compare analog computer, digital computer. 2. a person who computes; computist.  
  • For me a PC (Personal Computer) is really defined by contrast with the other kinds of computing devices available, and I would split them into 3 broad categories: Personal Computers, Business Computers, and Appliances. An appliance is a device that you turn on and it works.  You have little to no say about the OS that it runs, the programs that it has access to, and limited to no ability to make hardware changes.  This would include any device that is tied to a specific storefront such as most phones and tablets, but also includes more 'traditional' appliances such as TVs, NAS units, dedicated network devices (like Cisco switches and routers), etc. A business macine or computer is a computer that has lots of flexability in the form of hardware, OS, and software changes, but needs approval by a organizational body in order to make such changes.  More and more these devices are Appliance-like in use (ie, they are locked down), but PC like in flexability. Lastly we have "PCs" which is essentially anything not in the first 2 categories.  Traditionally it would be a device that you put together yourself, install an OS yourself, and pick the software yourself... but realalistically that has changed a lot in the last 10 years.  We have laptops such as ultrabooks which are very limited in hardware changes, but very flexable in software and OS changes that I would still consider PCs.  Even some android devices are becoming very 'PC-Like' when unlocked to run custom ROMs/Images for their OS and in the process being decoupled from the storefront so that they can run all manner of software. I guess all of that is to say that a PC has a lot more with HOW it is used (or can be used) rather than WHAT the device is.
  • PCs are desktop. Laptops are notebook, ultrabook, with physical keyboard, without/with touchscreen. Tablets are laptop with touchscreen but no physical keyboard. All of them, doesn't care if it is Macbook or Chromebook or Windows, it is classify like that, thats my point of view
  • Laptop is a PC and that is an acepted classification for a long period of time. Desktops and Laoptop are both subsets of PCs
  • A PC is a device which  is intended to be able to write, compile and execute code on. => RPi is a PC, Smartphone is no PC, iPad is no PC
  • When is denim update coming to rest of the Lumia devices?
  • It camed month ago. What is your device?
  • Not all the devices have received denim update yet, for example here in India Nokia Lumia 1320 (my device) hasn't yet got it along with 720, 820, 1020, 1520 etc. Only a few Lumia like the 520 has got the update.
  • That's what I would like to know to
  • HAHAHA U kidding ...
  • PC is Desktop ONLY!
  • It has to be running a "full desktop operating system".....to be considered a PC.....that is windows XP,7,8 ect./mac osx/linux...ubuntu ect.--not mobile oses I.e. Chrome/windows rt/ios .....you can always attach a keyboard and mouse to any of these.....desktop or mobile.....but only desktop I.e. full os is a "PC"......example,surface pro 3,runs a desktop os,so its a "PC".....very simple
  • I like your brain :)
  • Not true as my PC has a CD-ROM
  • Why the hell does it have a cd-rom? COMPLETELY antiquated. Useless.
  • My keyboard is wireless, so it does not count as a PC?
  • If I had to choose, I would agree with Gartner on this one however what I find odd is that this being still debated.. in 2015. A PC after all is a Personal Computing device which by extension includes smartphones, which one could say are the evolved form of the PDA from the decades past.
  • Gartner, definitely.
  • If something runs a 'Desktop' operating system (Linux, Windows, OSX, etc) then it is a PC. Mobile OS = Mobile device. Things get confusing with true Unix (workstation?) and what about Windows 10 - running on mobile devices, desktops, laptops.....? Who cares?
  • Personal Computing is the key of everything, the gap of computing power and Operating Systems power is smaller as time passes, so I think we should all start just considering form factor like desktop, laptop, netbook, notebook, tablet, AIO, etc
  • Personal Computer? Well, that would be anything personal that computes. That is, most electronic equipment... As for the historic definition, well I guess Gartner gets it right - it's about the use, not the shape. If IDC's definition was correct, the classic cabinet + monitor + keyboard + mouse wouldn't qualify because the keyboard wasn't permanently attached to either the cabinet or the monitor...
  • Gartner looks more logical.
  • Gartner got this right, end of story.
  • Perhaps you mean "Is it time to finally define what a "PC' is?" This is an OLD argument. The original use of the term "PC" (as opposed to spelling it out as "personal computer") referred exclusively to Intel based computers running DOS or Windows. Macs, running 68000 or PowerPC chips were considered "personal computers" but not "PC"s. (For the pedantics out there - yes, this really was the definition - get over it). Most Mac users bristled at the seemingly intentional segregation and argued that Macs should be included as PCs. When tablets became poopular, the same logic was used to argue that a tablet is just as powerful and functional as a desktop (no, not necessarily) and so iPads should be considered "PC"s as well, mainly to bolster Apple product market percentages since the Mac still represents a small fraction of all desktop and laptops sold while iPads and iPhone sell well. This is where the defintion of "PC"s started to turn stupid. By that logic, EVERYTHING with a CPU that can be used for general tasks becomes a PC. Your smart TV is a PC. Your CAR is a PC.  Clearly for the purposes of analysis a definition which include almost everything in one class is essentially a useless definition. So we have to start over by drawing lines. My definition, for example, is this: A PC is any computing device that can recreate from source the operating system which runs on it. That would include any Windows or Mac device. It excludes iPads, iPhones all controllers, smartwatches etc. It's not perfect (you can install Linux on some Android tablets, for example), but it does split the universe into at least two solidly different types of systems.
  • I agree with your definition 100% -- same as my reply below.
  • If we go by the name "Personal Computer" we'd have to include most smartphones because they are technically more powerful computers than PC's were for a long time.
    :-)
  • PC should be a computing device that you can connect a keyboard, mouse and a monitor. Of course it can come attached to the device. You could do the same with gaming consoles too, but do they classify as computing devices?
  • All Android tablets are PCs then. Unless you only mean physical connections, which doesn't make sense in a world that is moving to Bluetooth devices and Miracast. And the only thing that excludes iOS is the lack of a mouse pointer which could easily be added to the OS.
  • They should consider portability, OS type.
  • Good point, but most devices come pre installed with an OS and very few users change it?
  • Here's a simple idea. Instead of counting by form factor, count by OS. Period. Android, Chrome OS, iOS, OSX, and Windows. And to answer the question posed, a PC is a personal computer. What is a computer? Any standalone (non-embedded), end user device... desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. In other words, exclude servers and embedded systems like those found in cars, appliances, etc.
  • PC is too limited of term for consumer products nowadays, everything is a computer, if an old XT computer was a PC in the 80's than anything we have today is a more powerful "computer". The term is dead. That's why we have newer terms to identity the multitude of products available today (desktop, smartphone, tablet, notebook ECT) trying to make a multitude of products fit under one definition doesn't really benefit the consumer, and this article shows how statistics can be skewed and provide no real pertinent information.
  • I am actually very passionate about this issue. It is silly and meaningless to differentiate computing by architecture or other abstract features. X86, x64, ARM, Intel... Meaningless points of differentiation. What I now try and explain to clients are there are 4 categories of systems. Use whatever words you want, but they are: Content creation systems, that I usually refer to as workstations.
    Content consumption systems, that I lump low end laptops, tablets e readers, etc.
    Data repositories, usually referred to as servers.
    Mobile, usually phones but some overlap with tablets that have cellular and some laptops that have cellular service...
  • A PC should be define as the one capable of doing all necessary tasks average people need without having to appeal to another computer... For example being able to fully write an essay, and send it to a printer, also being able to copy, erase, move files.. Have input and output ports of some sort... Being able to have at least mouse and keyboard capabilities.... Not needing to connect it ever to another PC to actually work or upgrade o restore... You can do that with a Surface (pro or rt) .. With an iPad or an Android tablet, i am not quite sure..
  • PC.. Personal Computer.  What isn't a personal computer?  What is a computer?  Is it purely form factor or function?  I mean... we are in a different time... Computers are more specific than every before... but still the general public does the same mose basic functions on the different devices... So.. who not just throw them all in one big heap of steamming mess... Just jiving...  The general public thinks a PC is a Desktop running windows... or a computer running windows... I am so sick of vauge words and descriptions that we ignorantly use...  It is a personal computing  devices... then we can narrow down... to device type > operating system or whatever is being reported... but just saying PC sales are down or up is GARBAGE to me.  But the general public is like OOOOOO WINDOWS SUCKS.. Without even thinking that Macs are included, lol.  Chrome OS whould be included as well....   We need to be specific, especially a company spewing out statistical data... They for one need to be accurate, but I see more of an agenda spewing data with vague descriptions... When the public reads this, they read doom for windows... Also... Who does not have a tablet now a days?  Ups and downs in the tech, auto, or any other insdustry happen... Trends are not years like these markets like to want you to think... Trends are more likely 3, 5, and 10 years for accuracy... People are not like us who are on the cutting edge... The majority of people buy something good and hold on to it... When ever someone is spewing data... What is there agenda?  And for the people receiving the data... Numbers do not tell the whole story... as this article clearly demonstrates.    We need specific terms to be used if not by the general public, at least by some company spewing poorly defined and quite possibly poorly sourced and very general sources...  Information is data that makes sense... But poor data is garbage.... Garbage in... Garbage out...  I use these reports as a step in a trending direction... but never as a rule or hard fact...  Always ask questions... Be wise my friends...   AND USE SPECIFIC TERMS PLEASE!
  • Call it a computer. Them all devices are covered lolzz.
  • PC = Works best while sitting down and not moving, has a keyboard and mouse/touchpad, works fine offline, applications are installed from CD or downloaded installers. = Productivity device Tablet = Works fine when standing up and possibly moving, has a touch screen, doesn't work well offline, applications installed from app stores = Media consumption device Network device = Works best while sitting down and not moving, doesn't work very well offline, applications installed from app stores = Limited productivity, Limited media consumption device Hybrid = Both a PC and Tablet (depending on what you're using it for at that momemt) = Must have a keyboard, touch screen, mouse/touchpad When in PC mode, works best while sitting down, works fine offline and applications are installed from CD or downloaded installers. = Productivity device When in tablet mode - works fine when standing up and possibly moving, doesn't work well offline, applications installed from app stores = Media consumption device So, 3 categories: I'd count Desktop, Laptops, Notebooks as PC,  x86 / x64 / Arm hybrids as both a PC and a Tablet. Chromebooks as Network Device.
  • PC = Personal Computer = No need. Too general to classify.
  • Interesting that a chromebook is not considered a PC in the same way as a Windows laptop when they are always marketed directly against Windows laptops. The statement about them being limited kind of dismisses those marketing claims.
  • A person computer to me is a device with a full OS, not a mobile OS. Period.
  • Then you wouldn't consider notebooks as they don't run full windows os, that is except the recent line of hp stream
  • Gartner FTW. Good answer to an easy question. Keep it simple stupid.
  • SP3 should be included in the PC category because they are a fully functional PC in tablet form. I agree that Chromebooks are consumption devices for now but things could change once google ramp up the robustness of the OS.
  • Since 80's there is a famous quote: which one is more productive? Mac or PC? So, this is exactly like, which one designed for Server side processing matter? AMD or intel? Again which one is more powerful in graphics rendering? Ge Force or Radeon? This becomes confusing when in 2000's the letter Tablet PC becomes strongly useful for laptops with 360 degree twisting point which turned a laptop into a heavy weight tablet and most of them were available with dedicated pen to operate as today's tablets. Now its better to distinguish them based on architecture; CISCs are PC and RISCs are tablets. As a PC must compute almost everything and a Tablet must be an assistant like what PDAs were in the past.
  • "personal computer" nope, I think not
  • They should consider surface pro series as pc too, cuase it dose all what a PC can do and can be multi purpose as well. Its a tab, PC both at a same time. And thats why it becomes more personal.
  • The PC is a personal computing device, that implies A desktop, notebook, netbook,tablet and of course Smartphones. I say Smartphones cos normal phones don't have the Computing technology in it. Everything from x86, Power PC and ARM and stuff is driven Computing technology.
  • The nomenclature evolves along with tech.
    And with mass acceptance of those specific labels.
  • Any device not a phone that can be used as a personal computer should be deemed a "PC". Maybe define it as a device larger than x, that storage data on an internal hdd...I dunno, just a thought.
  • If you can write, compile and run a program natively on the same machine this machine is a PC.
  • Raspberry Pi is a PC.
  • What about my 1520?
  • IDC's definition makes no sense. If they have determined a detachable keyboard is part of the definition, then desktop computers, which have detachable keyboards, then desktops are not PCs. Especially if you attach a touch-screen to the desktop. And, as pointed out in a previous post, a PC is defined as a general purpose computer (look it up on wikipedia) which leaves Chromebooks out, as they are not general purpose. Some go as far as to include only those machines that run the DOS/Windows OS, leaving Macs to their own category. Garner has a better grip on the definition although some might say Chromebooks could be squeezed into the general purpose arena because they access general information from various sources.
  • I always assumed PC meant "Windows OS".  Considering all the old commercials "Mac vs. PC" were always about Window OS vs Mac OS, I wouldn't consider anything Apple makes as a PC.
  • Well, let's start with the "original" definition of a PC (with a few minor variations). The IBM PC was a desktop device whcih had a display and keyboard. This eventually included a hard drive and mouse. Those are the basic components of a "classic" PC. This included the IBM PC, early Apple computers, Commodore 64, and a variety of other devices no longer produced. This has since been further reduced to Windows PCs, Macs, and some variety of Linux/Unix devices. regardless of the operating system, these devices run "full-blown" software application both in the production and consumption category. If we use this as the generic definition of the PC, Desktop devices (Windows and MacOS), laptops (including Macbooks), notebooks, and any other device that can run the same suite of application that can be run on a Windows Desktop, or Mac desktop. This would include tablets running Windows, but not WindowsRT, or Windows Phone OS. It would not include Android or iOS devices. When Windows moves to Windows 10, RT devices and Windows phones will continue to be excluded since they don't run the traditional full-blown applications. This means devices such as the Surface Pro (original, 2 and 3) would be PC as would convertables, 2-in-1s, and hybrids. I don't know much about Chromebooks, but I would think the limitations in application capabilities would not put it in the PC category. That, to me is what would constitutes a PC. Using just the form-factor as the determining factor seems ludicrous to me.
  • Good article.
  • No.
  • mmmm...dont desktop have detachable keyboards? \(^_^)/
  • IDC is just plain dumb! A PC is any productive device while anything short could be regarded as a mobile device. I go with Gartner!!
  • Gartner has it right, IDC wrong, the end. :)
  • Just asking, has anyone tried to use Liquid kristall screen protector for their Surface Pro 3? I'd like to try that product, but I am not sure if it affects on your Surface Pen.
  • The term PC shouldn't be used when classifying groups of computers like they are. Considering it stands for personal computer, it could really mean anything involving any type of computer for personal use which could including phones, tablets, and other small computers. They don't need to redefine the term, they need a better term for their intended classifications.
  • This is really quite silly.  My monster desktop PC has a detachable keyboard.  In fact, it's wireless already.  And, because I'm using Windows 8.1, I can detach the keyboard (for real) and use the mouse to activate the onscreen keyboard.  So, we can play all day long with definitions.  I think it would be smarter to use the categories that legitimately exist: desktop PCs, laptop/notebooks (keyboards permanently attached, convertible or not), tablets, smartphones.
  • Gartner is more accurate IMO. Focusing on form over function is foolish.
  • The Desktop is The shizznit
  • I think PCs should be everything except Smartphones and Smartwatches. Even basic tablets like some of the small Android tablets could eventually become mini PCs that you connect to a TV/Monitor and Mouse/Keyboard to use more productively. Technically Smartphones could probably do the same in the near future, but I think the form factor and use case is enough different with Smartphones to categorize them separately. But the rest of the devices larger than a Smartphone are extremely diverse and flexible as to how they are used. One minute you can use them just for content consumption, the next for heavy computing and productivity. It may be a bit premature to categorize them that broadly right now, but in the next 5 years, I think that's where we will be. Anybody who still considers a Desktop box/laptop as PCs only, is fooling themselves. Just because the PC is more compact and mobile doesn't make itself any less a PC. I mean, did anyone really think we would have the giant brick like boxes sitting on desk for all eternity? It was inevitable that their size continue to decrease and become more mobile. Just a matter of time. So calling them something different just because they are in a smaller container is silly.
  • There are two acceptable ways to define PCs in my opinion: 1.) Any multifunctional computer that is sold with a keyboard. 2.) Any Windows device with extensive multitasking capabilities.
    The first definition would exclude all tablets, except detachable and convertible types that are sold with a keyboard. This definition would keep the focus on form factor. The second definition would exclude most ARM based Windows devices for now and would keep the focus on the OS. IDC goes by first definition. Gartner fails both because they include Macs.
  • Gartner is right. For it to be a PC and not just a phone os with a bigger screen, its gotta have full windows or mac. And sometimes lunix.
  • Where is Linux lol?
  • Well, the traditional meaning of Personal Computer (PC) is just that, a device that allows you personally be productive, regardless of form factor. I think we have gotten so use to the idea of the desktop PC being considered a PC that we forget that notebooks/laptops went through this, when the form factor first came out. The issue was that it couldn't handle the.same type of workloads then and were not considered upgradeable. So, many people didn't consider them full PCs. Here we are again, more than twenty years later and still having difficulties figuring it out. All of these devices are PCs by definition. However, many consider what you can do, and peripherals you can add through USB connections to be PC requirements. However, some also consider smartphone PCs. Remember when they were called pocket PCs? My point is, there is no debate. They are all PCs by definition that are only limited by their size and physical capabilities and purpose, i.e. media consumption or work production, or a combination of the two. Whichever the device focuses on does not make it less of a PC, only what it can do.
  • So what they really need to release is a pivot table web site that lets the user decide what's a PC and what isn't. Produce a couple of common reports that can be cached, and let people make custom ones. That way people can see the trends and know how things are moving in certain sectors.  
  • Windows, Mac, and Linux are PCs. IOS, Android and chrome OS are not. Put simply...a PC allows access to the entire file system, and doesn't restrict what the user can install on it. All mobile os devices are kind of PC lite.
  • An interesting way to define a PC that is kind of odd, but is the only way I can sum up Gartners definition:
    **A PC is a computer that ships with printer drivers in the OS.**
  • My definition of PC versus "Device" is as follows: If it has the capability to develop and deploy its own operating system (though perhaps not to the same exact unit) and low-level applicartions, it is a full-fledged PC. If it requires a fundamentally different unit (i.e. running a different OS) then it is a "Device"
  • Pretty much what was said above but I would add if a system runs an addon program in that the program has all the runtimes as part of the program then it is a PC. However if it only runs applets or remote programs then it is not a PC. An example would be terminals, chromebooks, ipads, most phones, and most android tablets. Some chromebooks can run Linux, in that case when running Linux they are PC's but only if they no longer need the internet to function. Interestingly if you were able to flash a full PC OS say to a Lumia phone and it had the horse power to for instance run a full program like excel as a *.exe file and not the app then it could technical be a PC.
  • Oh and according to those old App$e adds... A Mac is not a PC.
  • I think both are wrong. Under the term PC should be computers we knew in 80/90's, so to say computer + monitor + keyboard/mouse. Since technology advances new markets appear - laptops, then notebooks, tablets, smartphones etc. so they all should be accounted separately. I still can't imagine my productivity in my job using something else than PC. Dual 21" lcds, no laptop can replace.
  • i believe if a device that can run full programs and multitask it can be considered a PC. Chromebooks look like a PC but there not because it has numeroous limitation as stated in the article, tbh my surface V1 has more functionality than the chrome book but can run full programs. as long as it can run x86 programs and can multitask then its a PC, imho
  • Lol we need to stop using that world PC when we are referring to windows laptops now a days everything is a PERSONAL COMPUTER from Blackberry, Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. We have laptops , 10" 2 in 1 is a tablet, over 10" 2 in 1 are laptops then 9"-7" are tabs . It doesn't matter if your laptop is running a browser laptops are been shipped.
  • Computer with a cursor is PC.
  • I vote with IDC. Without a real "definition", form factor is as good a line to draw and is less subjective.
    Physically attached keyboard = laptop = PC.
    Why the heck not?
  • Gartner defines it well as i have defined it on my corp standard hardware definitions.
  • Interesting debate. I'm biased because I work for IDC, but I can tell you that IDC's definitions of what a PC is vs what a tablet is vs what a smartphone is, are pretty much an industry standard. Even Microsoft themselves apply the same distinctions to laptops and tablets. So you can keep bashing IDC, but ultimately IDC is by far the premier provider of this type of data, with way more resources allocated to gathering data in individuals countries and way more detail provided.
  • But what matters most in a PC? The hardware factors, or software factors? Four to six years back, PC's were slightly big & bulky. Tbh, I knew a lot of people who owned a Windows 7 PC. The kind of PC's where the monitor had wired or wireless Bluetooth keyboards and mice(lol, mice or mouses?). They were called PC, regardless of the wireless/detachable hardware. Now that Windows 8.1 is out, the software is of course an improved 'windows 7'. With this productive software, installed on tablets, smart phones, laptops, and desktops, giving people the vast range of doing almost anything that the old average windows 7 PC could do, MY opinion is that anything with Windows 8.1 is a PC. Not Windows Phone 8, because the phones are clearly phones. These phones are very sophisticated in my opinion. I love the option to type up letters, essays, or finish up my PowerPoint in Office, however, these options are limited on windows phone. I have not tried out a Chromebook, but I have tried out an iPad. Lol, Windows Phones could do just as much as an iPad or maybe more than an iPad! That's because of Windows Phone's software. Comparing a windows 8.1 tablet to an iPad, you can do a lot more on the 8.1 tablet, especially since there's not just one tablet running 8.1, people can find the right one for them, making hardware PERSONALIZED. Windows Phone's have limitations in the software, but Windows based tablets do not. There's Windows PHONE 8 and Windows 8. With that being said, a Windows Phone can go head to head with the oversized iPod touch: The iPad. However when comparing a Windows 8.1 tablet to an iPad, the 8.1 tablet is superior in MY opinion. I'd say, regardless even if they're still both considered tablets, the software is the real package, making the product an advanced computer. Smartphones are computerized limited phones, and last time I checked, the iPad is no different from an iPhone, except the built in cellphone. Im sorry for the people going in circles with my silly opinionated comment lol. I woke up, headed to windows central, found this article, and while sleepy, wrote my argument haha
  • Every computing unit where functions and features can be added or removed by the user installing or removing software. As far as market share research goes, PC is a pointless term.
  • Both IDC and Gartner sound logical. At the same time both give an indication that the definition will continue to evolve as both form factor as well as the functionality continues to evolve with time. I think the 'most appropriate' definition for the time being should be an amalgamation of the two definitions: It should be based on full PC functionality, which must include editing and sharing files WITHOUT the use of external accessories. In normal tablets including the iPad, Surface etc. you need to 'attach' the keyboard as an accessory. This should not be the case. So if like Lenovo Yoga, you get that built in, it is a PC otherwise it is not. Chromebook is a different case altogether. It has the form factor of a PC by virtue of having a keypad, but is not as functional as a PC. So in my opinion even that cannot be classified as a PC.
  • hmm.... I definatelly don't agree with IDC for excluding windows tablets, but then if we take the Gartner way that means when windows 10 comes the term smartphone shoud dissapear and everything should be called PC? I don't think that's correct either... They should look at OS and form factors together not just one or the other!!!! but for me all desktops, all in ones and big laptops should be considered PC ultrabooks, tablets, 2 in 1s, phones and so on should be considered as MPC (mobile personal computer)
  • Gartner has the better definition of what a PC should be. It's really about the functionality rather than the form factor. You can install Linux on Chromebook, but it isn't pre-installed out of the box. I believe Gartner's stats are based on the functionality of the devices without human tinkering. 
  • I think it would only benefit to do form factor and a separate operating system stat.  That way manufacturers could see what sells and what doesn't and combine the best form factor with the best OS to sell.  I never here the term PC anymore, and I'm around hundreds of people all day that use them.  We say desktop computer(DC), tablet, laptop, notebook, smartphone etc.  I think PC went away like super computer or mainframe in most circles.
  • Gartner hit the nail on the head with its classification. It's the exact same definition I use for a pc/wintablet.
  • It's sort of a silly argument. These are the definitions adopted by two 'prestigeous' analysis firms, so they can do what they do, count stuff, mangle some numbers, enhance some hindsight, and make predictions. You could define a Personal Computer as anything with a processor, input and output, but then you couldn't make enlightened statements about PC growth versus smartphone or tablet growth. You have to bin them to count and compare them. It would be much the same if they were comparing vegetable vs fruit consumption and differed in what they decided a tomato was. One would have fruit percentage going up and the other down, depending on the current popularity of tomatos. Neither would be wrong, you just have to understand their reasoning to make use of their reports. If you are deciding to get out of the PC market because IDC says it is declining, or into it because Gartner says it is recovering, you just need to understand what they say a PC is, not argue about whether they are right or not.
  • I have an idea, A PC mostly use an AC power supply to work normally, Tablet, in other hand, use battery. Nowadays, the edge between tablet (and other mobile devices) and PC are nearly invisible, so I think this must be a very hot topic. Don't blame me, I'm not a native English speaker.