HP Exec Predicts Windows 8 Upgrades Will Drive PC Industry Growth

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It has been a year of uncertainty for Hewlett-Packard partners that sell printers and PCs, but a top sales executive for the combined Printing and Personal Systems business unit says better days are just around the corner.

John Solomon, senior vice president of Americas sales for HP's Printing and Personal Systems division, is downright bullish on Windows 8 and believes it will give a shot in the arm to sluggish PC sales.

"I do think there is going to be an upgrade cycle. I think there is going to be a bounce-back from a pretty soft year this year," Solomon said in an interview with CRN last week. "It will be single digit growth, but growth [nonetheless]."

HP unveiled a wave of business focused ultrabooks in May and is gearing up to launch an x86-based Windows 8 tablet that Solomon said will be aimed at enterprise users. HP is also straddling the line between business and consumer with its Envy Spectre XT Ultrabook, which debuted in January.

[Related: HP Says Its Windows 8 Tablet Will Include 'Unique' Technology]

While Windows 8 reviews have been mixed, Solomon said HP is confident that its Windows 8 tablets and ultrabooks will stand out from the pack.

"I don’t know what the acceptance of Windows 8 is going to be, [but] I'm very confident that the HP PC features we've built in -- the thin and light [design], the ease of use features -- are going to be very attractive," Solomon told CRN.

The Windows 8 touch interface will present a learning curve to some customers, and Solomon said the change will be as significant as that which accompanied the transition from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. That said, HP is fully embracing the possibilities of the new OS, according to Solomon.

"Windows 8 and touch is really the dynamite combination. For Windows 8 without touch, the benefits are not as significant," Solomon said. "So, we're going to be doing a lot together with the channel in spelling out the benefits of why you should go to Windows 8."

However, HP may find it difficult to get partners to jump on the Windows 8 express. Some are still angry about the company's flirtation last year with a spin-off of its $40 billion PC unit.

"We're going to wait and see what the products look like and if they will drive profitable business for us," one HP partner told CRN, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is hard for any of us to make money selling end-points no matter how cool they are."

NEXT: HP PPS Gets Its Channel Game On

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