4 Reasons to Hold Off on Buying a New PC This Year

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"I need to get a new computer," you or someone you know may be saying these days, and it might seem to make sense to buy one later this month, when Microsoft (MSFT) updates its operating system with the rollout of Windows 10.

However, many consumers are realizing that they may not want or need a new desktop or laptop at all. Let's go over a few of the reasons that it makes sense to hold back on springing for a new PC.

1. The PC Itself is Fading

Industry tracker Gartner (IT) recently reported that 68.4 million personal computers were shipped during the last three months. That's a big number, but it's actually 9.5 percent fewer PCs than the industry shipped during the same quarter a year earlier. It's the largest decline since the summer of 2013.

Gartner isn't saying that the sky is falling. It points to folks waiting for Windows 10 and to a strong dollar as temporary setbacks for an industry that it sees bouncing back. We'll get to Windows 10 shortly, but let's talk about the strong dollar.

Most PC shoppers aren't foreign currency experts, but fluctuations do have an impact on what desktops and laptops cost in different countries. The dollar has appreciated against most currencies, making U.S. machines more expensive in those countries. That hasn't had an impact on U.S. markets; in fact, the stronger dollar makes it cheaper to source components. However, if we go from the 9.5 percent decline in worldwide shipments to the 5.8 percent drop in this country, we still see a remarkable slide. Consumers and corporations aren't buying computers the way they used to, and you probably shouldn't either.

It's not just a matter of being in the minority. (Enjoy season two of "True Detective" even if all of your friends hate it.) However, if PC sales continue to fade, you're going to see support and software development also take a step back. The signs are there. Until PC sales bounce back, your best bet is to follow the masses in holding off on a new purchase.

2. You May Want to Wait and See on Windows 10

There are plenty of neat features in Windows 10, overcoming some of the perceived shortfalls of Windows 8. However, it wouldn't be a surprise if there are a few bugs in the system despite the extensive beta testing taking place right now.

Microsoft has promised free Windows 10 upgrades for the first year for PC users running legal versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8, but that may not be much of a treat if Windows 10 is initially buggy or if it fails to catch on.

3. The Cloud Computing Revolution Is Less Taxing on Your End

You've been hit with the "cloud computing" buzzword for years, and it essentially means that software is migrating from running on your computer to running on an Internet-based server. Even Microsoft has caved in, offering its key Microsoft Office suite of programs on the cloud.

That's good news for your old PC. All of the heavy lifting is taking place on the software company's server, making a good Internet connection more important than an updated computer. This means that you don't need a faster computer or more hard drive space. The cloud is extending the lifespan of your PC.

4. Your Computer May Already Be in Your Pocket

PC sales have been slumping for a couple of years, and it's not a coincidence that the demise of the desktop has coincided with the rise in mobile computing. The smartphone market is booming, and tablets are now widely owned.

Are smartphones and tablets enough for you? If all you're doing is surfing the Web, checking email, and playing online games, you may not realize how little you rely on your PC these days. For some people, there is no alternative to a trusty desktop. If you're a die-hard PC gamer or your job requires programming or architectural design software, you need your PC. There's no way around that. However, see if you can get by without your PC for a few days. If you're perfectly fine, then your smartphone or tablet is already your new computer.

If your smartphone screen isn't conducive to some of your computing needs and you don't own a tablet, consider getting one -- and invest in a Bluetooth or attachable keyboard to scratch that itch. The future doesn't look so bright for the PC, and your future looks bright without one.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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