Apple’s new iPad and other tablets are hot sellers right now, but the days of the PC are hardly over.

And a key reason is the new Windows 8 operating system.

So says research firm IDC.

That seems to be good news for Lenovo, the world’s No. 2 PC maker which reportedly plans to be among the first to capitalize on Windows 8 – including its tablets.

“Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple’s iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction,” said Bob O’Donnell, vice president of Clients and Displays at IDC.

“However, end user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound.”

Lenovo is aiming to surpass world leader HP in PC sales and has strengthened its presence in Europe as well as Japan with deals it completed last year.

IDC on Tuesday issued a forecast for 2012 in which worldwide PC shipments will pick up in the second half of the year with the debut of a Windows 8 as well as greater availability of lighter, thinner note books called utralbooks.

IDC expects growth in PC shipments this year to be a modest 5 percent. In healthier times, PC shipments had double-digit percentage growth. IDC’s forecast is in line with other recent estimates.

The research group said PC shipments worldwide grew less than 2 percent last year. The growth came from emerging markets, while the industry saw a 9 percent drop in mature markets such as the U.S. and Western Europe. A weak economy and consumer interest in tablets were to blame.

IDC still expects 2013 to be challenging for Microsoft and traditional PC makers, which include Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Sony Corp. and Lenovo Group.

“Windows 8 and ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC,” Jay Chou, a senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. “But its promise of meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error. Thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term.”

IDC is also lowering its forecast in some emerging markets, in part because of shortages of disk drives following heavy flooding near manufacturing plants in Thailand last year.

Another research group, Gartner, also has forecast a relatively weak 2012.

Lenovo operates its executive headquarters in Morrisville. 

Read more details from IDC here.