As Bill Murray said in the movie "Stripes," "And then ... depression set in."

This is one of the saddest questions I've had to answer. That's because it reminds me of the possibility that one day desktop computers may fade off into the horizon like 8-track cassettes and VHS decks.

That's a shame for me on a couple of levels. For one, some of the best and most gorgeous video games I've ever played and still play today are for the PC, not a video game console or a tablet. Secondly, a desktop computer is the still way to get the most powerful computing at home. While you may not need that kind of power for everyday tasks like surfing the web or writing emails, it's still the best hardware for getting complex jobs done like video editing and desktop publishing. Oh, and of course, it's best for gaming.

 

But the fact is, desktop computing has been on a steady decline, first due to laptop computers and then mobile computing. As mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Android devices become more powerful, the need for desktop computers wanes.

Sales continue to show that this year will be the worst ever for desktop computers, according to research firms IDC and Gartner. Third-quarter sales for PC desktops dropped 8.6 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner. IDC reported the decline was closer to 5.6 percent. Every quarter this year has reported a decline in PC sales compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, Gartner reported that sales of Apple's Mac desktop computers also declined 2.3 percent.

 

Those figures are actually a little better than what those research firms predicted the third quarter would have been, but the numbers are still shrinking.