Best of luck Microsoft, but Surface Book isn’t going to save PC

Microsoft has unveiled the pinnacle of laptop design as the format faces a terminal, and possibly unstoppable, decline

Three things happened in the space of two days last week that explain perfectly the state of the market for personal computers.

On Wednesday morning, at a glamorous Apple-style event in New York,Microsoft unveiled its first laptop, a breathtaking combination of design and function called the Surface Book that the company, without a hint of humility, dubbed “the fastest laptop on any planet”.

Then just a few hours later, it emerged that Dell, a computer hardware giant with its better days behind it, was in talks with data storage company EMC over a $60bn deal that would be the biggest technology takeover in history.

And finally on Thursday, IDC, a research company that tracks worldwide sales of tech products, said that sales of PCs in the third quarter of the year had fallen 10.8pc against the same quarter a year ago, a much worse decline than expected.

To understand these events, it is best to look at them in reverse-chronological order. First, the IDC figures. Sales of PCs – laptops and desktop computers combined – have been on a downward trend since 2012 after a decade of unbroken growth, and now sit at roughly 2007 levels.

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