Microsoft isn’t letting disappointing first-generation sales stop it from releasing new versions of its Surface tablet. ZDNet on Wednesday spotted a new Microsoft product roadmap slide for 2014, which the company is billing as its “biggest year for innovation ever.” Among other things, the slide promises new versions of both the Surface Pro tablet and the Surface RT tablet sometime next year. Although Microsoft didn’t go into many details about what the new Surface models would include, it did vow that they would at least feature “new accessories and accessory colors.” The slide should also put to rest the notion that Microsoft plans on giving up on Windows RT, its much-maligned tablet-centric operating system that has so far struggled to attract either consumers or OEMs.
Microsoft’s first Windows RT-powered Surface tablet wasn’t the rousing success the company had hoped for, but that won’t stop it from trying again with a second-generation model. Following reports that Microsoft slashed Surface pricing for schools in a likely effort to clear out inventory, Bloomberg has reported some details about an upcoming refreshed Surface RT tablet. The report claims Microsoft will go with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chipset to power the next Surface RT, though NVIDIA will supply chips “for some versions” of the new Surface. It is unclear how many versions of the slate there will be, or what the differences between them might be. Microsoft’s Surface sequel is expected to launch later this year.
It’s taken a while but Microsoft has finally realized that it’s futile to charge customers an extra $100 just so they can use a keyboard with their Surface tablets… for a limited time at least. CNET notes that Microsoft has started promoting a limited-time offer where users who buy a Surface starting on May 31st will get either the Touch Cover or the Type Cover click-in keyboard for free. We have no idea how long this offer will last but it wouldn’t surprise us to see it extended for a long period of time if it helps boost sales. As we said last year, Microsoft’s decision to charge an extra $100 for a keyboard was rather puzzling since the keyboard was billed as an essential part of the tablet and key differentiator from Apple’s iPad.
Microsoft is building a smaller Surface tablet according to multiple reports, and a new rumor on Thursday suggests it will feature a 7.9-inch display when it launches in late-June. Digitimes reports that Microsoft’s smaller Surface slate will make use of 7.9-inch display panels supplied by none other than Samsung Display, the one-time Apple supplier now in search of new clientele. The report also notes that despite the rising popularity of 8-inch tablets following the launch of Apple’s iPad mini, suppliers aren’t expecting much from the new Surface considering its predecessors’ sales performance.
If at first you dont’t succeed… Microsoft is reportedly developing a new Surface tablet with a 7.5-inch display. NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim told CNET on Thursday that an upcoming Microsoft slate will feature a 7.5-inch screen with 1,400 x 1,050 resolution, which works out to 223 pixels per inch. His supply chain sources say mass production schedules are currently being discussed, but the new Surface won’t launch this year. More →
Microsoft will reportedly unveil sequels to its first two Surface tablets at its Build developer conference, which is scheduled to run from June 26th through June 28th. Unnamed sources from Microsoft’s supply chain have told Digitimes as much, and they claim initial components for the Intel-based version of the next-generation Surface began shipping in late 2012. According to the report, the next-generation Surface tablets will be smaller than the current models, with screens measuring between 7 and 9 inches diagonally. An earlier report suggested that Microsoft is developing an “Xbox Surface” gaming tablet with a 7-inch 720p display and an ARM-based Texas Instruments processor, but it is unclear if this gaming device is one of the tablets mentioned in Digitimes’ report.
Despite PC sales recently experiencing their steepest decline ever in a single quarter, Microsoft managed to increase overall revenues from its Windows division. The company reported Windows revenue of $5.7 billion for the first three months of 2013, up 24% from the $4.633 billion it reported in the same time period from last year. The Windows division is still extremely important to Microsoft and as a whole generated 27% of the company’s total revenue and 45% of its profits. The question remains, however: How did Windows do so well when the PC industry tumbled to all-time lows? More →
Microsoft managed to emerge somewhat unscathed from the first quarter’s PC sales decline as it handily topped analysts’ fiscal third-quarter consensus and posted profits that grew 20% over the same period last year. The company’s stock climbed in after-hours trading as CFO Peter Klein, who is leaving the company at the end of the current fiscal year, made some intriguing comments about future products. For one thing, Klein suggested that earlier rumors about Microsoft bringing the Start button back in its Windows 8.1 update due later this year are accurate. The executive also hinted that Microsoft is prepping smaller Surface tablets that will launch later this year to combat Apple’s iPad mini and Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire lineup. More →
What a coincidence — on the same day market research firm IDC reported that the PC industry saw its worst-ever decline, The Wall Street Journal has leaned the Microsoft (MSFT) is working on a new tablet. In line with a number of earlier reports, and contrary to recent claims from Microsoft’s CFO, the world’s largest software company is currently developing a 7-inch Surface tablet as well as several other new Surface slates. More →
Now that we know the Surface has likely sold well below Microsoft’s (MSFT) own expectations, it’s fair to ask, “What went wrong?” Well, a lot of things: the Surface is priced too high, for one, and there doesn’t seem to be much reason for the Windows RT operating system to exist. But there’s a third aspect here that shouldn’t be overlooked, even if it’s not as important as the first two factors: Namely, that the Surface’s advertising campaign has been bafflingly terrible. More →
Cumulative sales of Microsoft’s (MSFT) first two tablet models have failed to meet expectations, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed sources, Bloomberg on Thursday evening reported that sales of Microsoft’s Windows RT-powered Surface tablet have reached just above 1 million units to date. According to the same sources, Microsoft ordered about 3 million Surface slates from its manufacturing partners. Sales of the newer Surface Pro model have totalled about 400,000 thus far, the report claimed. The numbers seem fairly in line with earlier estimates that suggested Microsoft would sell fewer than 1 million tablets in the fourth quarter last year.
Questions surrounding the success or failure of Microsoft’s (MSFT) debut tablet lineup continue to swirl, but the company has made it very clear at this point that it has no plans to release any numbers. Microsoft executives have repeatedly avoided sharing any hard data surrounding the Surface tablet’s performance, and no indication was given on the company’s recent earnings call despite recurring rumors that the first Surface slate flopped. Now, MIT’s Technology Review blog interviewed CEO Steve Ballmer and still couldn’t manage to get anything out of the outspoken executive with regard to Surface sales. More →
After reviewing Microsoft’s Surface tablet last October, I came back a month later and revisited the slate after spending a more substantial amount of time with it. My conclusion was very much the same — I love the Surface hardware but some of the tablet’s software issues are hard to overlook — but I added an important note: the Surface was a good tablet, but it felt like an appetizer. What I really wanted was the main course. More →