Gartner reported this month that 87.5 million PCs shipped in the third quarter of 2012 (through June 30, 2012).

This was essentially flat compared to the 87.46 million PCs sold in the second quarter 2012 (through March 31, 2012)

In contrast, Apple sold 17 million iPads in fiscal third quarter 2012.

This is markedly up from 11.8 million iPads reported sold in fiscal second quarter 2012, just after third-generation iPad went on sale on March 16, 2012.

The release of Windows 8 tomorrow represents a major push by Microsoft to gain a foothold in the exploding tablet market.

Microsoft’s ability to penetrate this market may therefore be less important in the short term than sales of Windows 8 on the desktop.

Slow adoption of Windows 8 for desktop PCs represent deferred sales due to Windows dominance there. Problems in the tablet and smartphone markets mean real losses to competitors.

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