When Microsoft started making its own PCs in 2012, it seemed to go against the software maker’s long history of not competing directly with the companies that license its Windows operating system. For the most part the company’s Surface line of tablets, laptops, and other computers have been niche products, so it hasn’t looked like Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, or Asus had too much to worry about.

But now Gartner says during the last quarter Microsoft managed to become one of the top five PC makers in the US (at least in terms of shipments).

To be fair, Microsoft is in a distant 5th place, with a four percent US market share. That puts it well behind Lenovo (with a 12.6 percent market share), Apple (14.8 percent), and Dell and HP (with 26 percent, and 29.5 percent, respectively.

And the global picture looks entirely different, with Lenovo and HP dominating the field, followed by Dell, Apple, Acer, and Asus. Microsoft doesn’t make it into the top five.

One thing to keep in mind is that Gartner’s numbers include Surface tablets, but not Chromebooks or iPads. I think that’s probably a bad call on Gartner’s part.

You could certainly make the case that a Surface tablet with Windows is more suited for use as a laptop or desktop replacement than an iPad Pro running iOS. But the distinction gets smaller every year, as Apple adds features to iOS and third-party app developers (including Microsoft) bring versions of popular software such as Photoshop or Office to Apple’s “mobile” operating system.

Chrome OS, meanwhile, was always designed to be a desktop operating system. And the app and performance gap between Chromebooks and Windows computers is also getting smaller and smaller — especially now that it’s possible to run Linux desktop apps on many Chromebooks.

So… take these Gartner figures with a grain of salt. Still, it’s interesting to see Microsoft make the chart at all. Apparently the company really is competing with its licensees in the PC space.

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7 replies on “Gartner: Microsoft is now one of the top 5 PC makers (in the US)”

  1. When Microsoft did they is was the big ‘ol screw over for their partners. Likely it’s why the PC market is stale as well. People will buy from the biggest name brand regardless if it’s actually the best value. Companies like ASUS try to copy the Surface but they aren’t Microsoft and sales suffer because of that. Brand blindness might explain how Microsoft managed to become such a player.

  2. Every Bill Gates interview in the 90s he would say “we’re a software company”. Times have changed.

  3. Fascinating to see US is so different compared to worldwide statistics.
    Sad that we have only US and worldwide, I am really curious how are thing looking out for MS here in Europe.

  4. I won’t by a laptop that needs a kickstand to keep it from falling down.

  5. Fascinating numbers to look at. Apple’s numbers are down in both US and Worldwide shipments but I think that’s Apple’s fault – they’ve really relegated their laptops to second citizen status. ASUS has taken a strong hit worldwide. Total shipments for the US is also down by the biggest mark at 22.5% (maybe this explains the generally high cost of laptops or… high prices contributing to less sales: D*mn lies… statistics).

    Disclaimer: As a long-time Microsoft hater (for tons of good reasons), I have to give them credit for transitioning. It’s not often that big companies, whose corporate culture and personality are fairly fixed, are able to change/adjust. Their entry into the hardware side wasn’t surprising considering that a long-time competitor (who they are terrified of), Google, had already committed to doing this.

    Microsoft follows trends created by others… this remains a constant since their very early days.

    What is surprising is Microsoft’s commitment. They’ve done tablets, laptops and even large screen all-in-ones very well. In fact, they have raised the bar throughout the industry. A Microsoft hater just said that. As part of their transition, they’ve entered the open source community in a big way, including the recent patent story (OIN), GPLing older DOS versions, etc… They aren’t pulling an IBM or Xerox (and so many others) by just shutting down a division and staying in their bubbles… they are actually (slowly) morphing their corporate personality. Very interesting to see (though I’m not sure I’m ready to believe).

    Now… if they could do something about their spyware and sleazy upgrades… That would help.

  6. The global market is a lot more price sensitive, so
    you see Apple and Microsoft holding significantly
    less worldwide share compared to their stake in the
    US market as they occupy the high end price point.

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