Microsoft has come up with a clever way to get rid of some of the millions of excess Surface RTs it has in its warehouses: It’s giving them away to schools who agree to use a safe, ad-free version of Bing as their primary search engine. As AllThingsD notes, Microsoft is telling schools that sign up for the program that they’ll have to “use a special edition of Bing that’s free of advertising and outfitted with enhanced privacy protection measures and adult-content filters” before they get free tablets. The one-two punch of pushing Bing and the Surface in schools is part of Microsoft’s broader initiative to nudge Google aside as the top search engine for educational institutions.
In the darker corners of my paranoid mind, I’ve always mused about the possibility that Microsoft sent its former executive Stephen Elop to intentionally sabotage Nokia so that its share price would crash, thus making it easy for Microsoft to buy it on the cheap. While this is admittedly a delusional conspiracy theory, I think it could gain at least a little legitimacy if Nokia really does go forward with its rumored plan to release a high-end tablet based on Windows RT. More →
Microsoft has already taken a $900 million hit on the Surface RT but it soon may have to pay out even more. AllThingsD reports that law firm Robbins, Geller, Rudman, & Dowd has filed a complaint against Microsoft alleging that the company misrepresented sales of its Surface RT tablet to investors. In particular, the firm says that Microsoft should have warned investors much earlier that it had a stockpile of millions of Surface tablets that it was unlikely to sell. More →
It was obvious to many that Microsoft’s Surface RT was overpriced when it first released but the company’s recent price cut on the device may be giving it a second life. ZDNet notes that Walmart “may have just sold out temporarily of Microsoft’s recently discounted Surface RT devices,” a sign that, at the very least, the price cut is helping the company move some of its inventory out the door. We still have no idea how many discounted Surface RTs Walmart ordered in the first place and it’s unlikely that the $350 price tag will help Microsoft sell off the millions of Surfaces that it over-ordered last year. Even so, Microsoft has to be encouraged that it can sell more Surface RTs without giving the tablet an HP TouchPad-esque price cut down to $99.
One of the reasons that Apple has been so successful has been its obsession with keeping its products as simple as possible so that computing novices have no problems with using them right out of the box. Microsoft has long understood that this has been a key part of Apple’s appeal, but as The New York Times’ Nick Bilton notes, the company is still having trouble resisting the urge to overwhelm consumers with specifications and features that they don’t immediately understand. The poster boy for this approach, writes Bilton, is the Surface tablet, which the company confusingly marketed with two different operating systems: Windows 8 and Windows RT. More →
Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has always exuded unwavering confidence in public interviews, behind closed doors he’s apparently being much more candid. The Verge reports that Microsoft held an in-house town hall event this week where Ballmer admitted to Microsoft employees that the company “built a few more” Surface RT tablets “than we could sell,” which might be an understatement given Microsoft’s recent $900 million charge that some analysts claim translates to as many as 6 million unsold Surfaces piled up in warehouses. More →
Poor Surface sales be damned: Microsoft is moving forward with its Siri-mocking advertising campaign. The company previously compared the ASUS Vivo Tab and Dell XPS 10 to Apple’s iPad. In a series of television commercials using a fake Siri voiceover, Microsoft has repeatedly mocked the iPad’s limited capabilities such as no expandable storage, no USB port and high price tag. Microsoft is back at it and this time is comparing the iPad to its Surface RT tablet. The commercial shows off the Surface’s kickstand, its USB port, keyboard cover and reduced price tag, while “Siri” tries to make excuses for the iPad. Microsoft’s latest ad can be viewed below. More →
Whom the gods wish to destroy, first they have enter the tablet market. After Microsoft announced yesterday that it was writing off $900 million due to excess Surface RT inventory, it became just the latest company to have failed to create a tablet capable of competing with Apple’s iPad and cheaper Android tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire. Indeed, when you look back over the past few years, it’s surprising to see how many companies released tablets that sold so incredibly poorly that many of them haven’t ever bothered to try their hands at making tablets again. For those who enjoy reliving car crashes, then, here is a recap of some of the biggest tablet flops that we’ve seen in just the past three years. More →
Microsoft’s mistakes during the launch of its first tablet were obvious to many people, but it was still shocking to hear on Thursday that the company would write down a whopping $900 million due to excess Surface RT inventory. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, who knows Microsoft better than just about any other reporter out there, finds herself similarly baffled that the company overestimated demand for the Surface RT by as much as 6 million units. What’s more, after talking with some of her sources, Foley still hasn’t come up with a satisfactory answer as to how Microsoft had so wildly miscalculated consumer demand for its first foray into the tablet market. More →
In what appears to be a desperate attempt to clear out inventory buildup, Microsoft will offer its Surface RT tablet to educational institutions at shockingly deep discounts. The tablet is available to schools and universities from now until August 31st starting at $199 for the 32GB model. The touch keyboard cover will add $50 to the price, while the type keyboard cover brings the total up to $289. The Surface RT comes bundled with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, and the tablet runs the Windows RT operating system, of course. Critics have blamed the watered-down Windows RT operating system, the tablet’s limited storage and high price for the Surface’s lackluster sales performance, and this current promotion could be an effort to clear excess inventory.
Microsoft on Tuesday announced that the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets will be heading to additional markets in the coming weeks. The Surface RT will arrive in Malaysia on April 25th, Mexico by the end of May, and in South Korea and Thailand in June. The Surface Pro will launch “before the end of May” in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It will also launch in South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore and Thailand “before the end of June.” The expanded availability will bring Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet to a total of 29 markets in time for the summer months, and its Windows 8 slate to 27 markets. The company has also vowed to increase production of the 128GB Surface Pro model to ensure the high-capacity slate remains in stock.
Microsoft (MSFT) on Thursday announced that it will be expanding the availability of its Surface RT tablet to six new markets in the coming weeks. The company’s Windows RT-powered slate will be shipping to Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan beginning in late March. Microsoft also promised to bring the Windows 8-powered Surface Pro to Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United Kingdom “in the coming months.”