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Microsoft Businesses Handhelds The Almighty Buck Hardware

Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets 550

DavidGilbert99 writes "Microsoft took everyone by surprise last year with the Surface tablet. It was something completely new from the company everyone knew as a software company. However nine months later and the sheen has worn off the Surface tablet and Microsoft's financial results on Thursday revealed it has taken a $900 million write down on the Surface RT tablets, leading David Gilbert in IBTimes to estimate it is sitting on a stockpile of six million unsold tablets."
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Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets

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  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:07AM (#44324925) Homepage

    Microsoft took everyone by surprise last year with the Surface tablet. It was something completely new from the company everyone knew as a software company

    It took you by surprise that they too finally released a tablet? Perhaps it was surprising it ran on a version of their own OS?
    From a company that's been selling game consoles, keyboards, mice and other hardware for years?

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:13AM (#44324945) Homepage Journal

    With those cool commercials showing people spinning these around, and snapping keyboards onto them with such gusto. Certainly the choreography should have guaranteed these things get snapped up in masses.

    It can't be that people are finally paying attention, and ignoring fluff. So what gives?

    just last week some guys were claiming that they're selling faster than they can produce them... I think they based that on the fact that stores have shortages of them, I guess the real reason is the stores refusing to stock them because they don't sell and they knew there was going to be a price slash.

  • My guess is Win 8 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:13AM (#44324947)

    Everyone got their chance to see Win 8 in action and saw what a pile of crap that was. Why would they buy it on a tablet?

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:14AM (#44324951) Journal

    Microsoft had already tried and failed to sell tablet computing for about a decade before Apple showed them how to do it right. Their response was to double down with yet another attempt to shoehorn windows into a role it never fit.


  • Sounds like (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:16AM (#44324955)

    Sounds like 900 million more reasons to get rid of Ballmer...

  • by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:20AM (#44324971)

    Everyone got their chance to see Win 8 in action and saw what a pile of crap that was. Why would they buy it on a tablet?

    Maybe because that's the only platform where the Metro interface makes a lick of sense.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:29AM (#44325013) Homepage

    It was actually surprising - not in the good sense, though. It was surprising that MS decided to enter a cutthroat market that is dominated by dirt cheap hardware made in China and an excellent free OS (Android) or a nearly free OS (Apple.) It was surprising that it chose to compete against MILLIONS of applications written for those two OSes. It was surprising that it decided to release a tablet that carries the name "Windows" [RT] but doesn't run Windows software. It was surprising that MS expected to actually win some place under the Sun in this market.

    But of course why would they get any share of the market if they haven't delivered anything new, anything unique that would be worth of jumping the safe and sound ship of iOS/Android? What is it that lures the customer toward WinRT? I do not know, and I'm somewhat aware of what's happening with computing devices. As far as I know, there is nothing new in WinRT, except the fact that it is devoid of applications (compared to the competition.) What they have, is rumored to be largely garbage. I can't check those rumors because I don't know anyone who'd have WinRT. Everyone these days runs with iOS or Android, and they are happy campers.

    MS is a million pound giant who is attempting to walk on thin ice. But whatever they do, they cannot get enough traction (=profit) to sustain their humongous empire, where one LOC of change costs a million dollars, after everything is said and done and all the uninvolved parties are paid. They cannot survive on low calorie food. They grew their business on products that they were the sole supplier, and they dictated their prices - hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars for a copy of software that is sold in millions. This tablet market does not have such a profit margin. MS wants for their OS more than the whole competitor's tablet costs! And if they charge less then they are shipping money with every unit sold.

  • I liked the thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maynard ( 3337 ) <j DOT maynard DO ... AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:31AM (#44325017) Journal

    I've never been a fan of Microsoft's business practices, or the Windows platform. But I like Office, particularly Word. Always have, going back to Word for Mac 6. Please don't tell me to write in emacs and process through LaTeX. I've done it and know that nobody but a few physics journals is going to accept a .tex file. Also, it's a PITA when it comes to formatting. And no, I don't want a wysiwyg TeX editor either.

    Anyway, I was intrigued by the possibility of running Word on a tablet and went to a store to check one of these Surface Tablets out. I liked it. The keyboard is responsive, the browser good enough to use, and a beta of Office looked useful. But the price tag and lack of apps is a killer. I just couldn't justify it.

    So, like many of their manufactured goods, MS has but out a decent product only to be hampered by a truly idiotic marketing and sales plan. It's like they thought they'd sell these overpriced things on brand recognition alone, forgetting that people actually need to use the thing for something before they'll plunk cash down. Including Office was a good first step. But it's not an app market.

    Jeesh. The decline of Microsoft has been this slow motion avalanche of stupid. The firm really needs to cull management and stomp out what must be ongoing interdepartmental wars over policy and prestige. Then focus.

    Booting Balmer would be a good first step, IMO.

  • by drginge ( 963701 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:38AM (#44325035)
    ...or sell them at a stupidly low price? Why "sit" on a stockpile of rapidly depreciating tech? If the price were less than half the price of an iPad they would sell easily. What Microsoft need just now is market penetration. With enough users the apps and accessories will sell, and then the developers will come once there's sufficient volume to make actual money, and THEN they can think about profiting off the NEXT generation, but for now they need to admit this one is a bust and almost give them away. Currently an iPad is what £350.....the Surface tablet would have to be at £100 to tempt me....
  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:44AM (#44325057)
    a) Give away inventory for free at schools etc
    b) Bury/dispose of inventory, user base purchases competitors products instead

    I know which option I'd be going with.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rvw ( 755107 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:47AM (#44325077)

    Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

    I was not surprised. Microsoft has had the same problems in the online world. Bing was never such a success as Google. Hotmail was a huge success, when they bought it, and it has been until Gmail came along. The problems is that they simply don't have the culture to create really groundbreaking new technology. In the 80s and 90s they were smart and quick, first in the market, cheaper than Apple, smarter than IBM. Now everyone is big, has piles of money, has its own business that makes a profit. Microsoft is like IBM. They can focus on Apple and Google because they are hip and make more money, but following them is stupid. They are climbing that tree right now, and they are failing.

    Windows (but not WP) and Office, SQL Server and Exchange and more of their business software - why isn't that enough? Will they fail if they fail online in the private sector? Will they fail if they don't have an OS on tablets and phones? I don't say they should forget about phones and tables, but they should join Apple and Google and Tizen, and deliver software for business on those platforms. Good solid software, that simply works, that's based on Exchange and whatever else they have.

  • This! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:47AM (#44325083)

    Those who want locked down hardware are already buying Apple's shit.

  • Bad choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pbjones ( 315127 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:39AM (#44325291)

    A win8 tablet that is restricted to a small subset if software at a price much higher than an android tablet, losers. They may get the Pro to work, but the RT was/is doomed, though I'd buy one when the price halves again. my wife can use it for sudoku and card games, and I would get my iPod back.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:50AM (#44325345) Journal

    With those cool commercials showing people spinning these around, and snapping keyboards onto them with such gusto. Certainly the choreography should have guaranteed these things get snapped up in masses.

    It can't be that people are finally paying attention, and ignoring fluff. So what gives?

    I took 2 things from that commercial, one was the end close up shot of the Surface, with tons of finger smudges.
    And the other was those keypads look like the plastic binders i used in highschool, the ones that fell apart really easy.

  • The thing is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:12AM (#44325437)

    Most people have no use for a tablet. It is a device that is an inbetween that they don't need. They have a smartphone, so that is a small, low power, device for browsing the web n' such that travels with you everywhere. They then also have a laptop (and sometimes desktop) for when they need more serious stuff and to do thing actually productive (touch screens are not useful for most kinds of creation, even simple creation like writing an e-mail).

    Well a tablet is a device in between those two. It runs a phone OS and is only maybe a little more powerful, but is much larger. Ok... so that does what for you precisely?

    Now in some cases, people have a use for them. The medical profession is a particular one I can think of, using them to replace paper charts. But for most home users, they are a gadget without a purpose.

    However, that is not a problem for the iPad (at least not for now) because it is a fashion accessory. It is trendy to have one. People ran out and bought them not because they said "Man this solves a need I have," but because they said "OMG that is so cool, I want one!" Utility was never a concern, they wanted to have it because it was the nifty thing to have.

    Thing is, that works only for the iPad. That means there's an iPad market, not a tablet market. Other tablets aren't "cool by association" particularly MS stuff, since they've NEVER been able to pull off the cool/fashionable thing. So the Surface is going to sell for shit because there's just not a market for it. People look at it and say "Why would I want that?" since there's not the cool factor.

    If there was a reason to own a tablet on a large scale, maybe they'd have a chance, but since there isn't it isn't going to go anywhere.

  • by hankwang ( 413283 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:30AM (#44325509) Homepage

    Also, Word works reasonably well. For example, right now I have a nearly 80,000 word document that it handles well enough

    Strange; where I am sitting, I hear of and see endless numbers of problems with Word with my colleagues: Word crashing on or garbling documents with too many floating figures, equations that suddenly turn into un-editable bitmapped images, documents full of "Error reference not found" (try remembering exactly what you wanted to refer to a month ago...), "save as PDF" generating pages with a gray toner-wasting background.

  • by readingaccount ( 2909349 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @06:05AM (#44325655)

    Microsoft have been doing the smartphone thing, and indeed the tablet thing for YEARS before Apple ever released the iPhone/iPad. They have years of experience which any decently-run company would have use said experience to be able to refine the devices and operating systems and improve their standing in the marketplace. But no, they didn't make any impact on the smartphone/tablet market - Apple comes out with the first release of the iPhone and iPad and each becomes the standard for their respective device fields. And now MS is trying to play catchup even to Android.

    They had the market before anyone else. If they just took it more seriously they could have owned it lock and key. Fucking idiots.

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Friday July 19, 2013 @06:06AM (#44325659) Homepage

    Same problem as Windows Phone. I know a few people with Windows phones and they love them ... the only thing they lament is the utter lack of apps.

    Unfortunately, it seems that "Microsoft" and "Windows" are tainted brands. No-one wants to spend personal money to be reminded of Monday morning 9am at work.

  • by Phydeaux314 ( 866996 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @07:53AM (#44326103) Homepage

    Disclaimer: I purchased a Surface Pro for personal/school use.

    The RT was, quite frankly, a bad idea.

    The pro has a lot going for it, if you're in the market for a moderately high-powered x86 ultrabook with a stylus and touch screen. Basically, it's the cat's pajamas for people that need something exactly like that (I do audio recording and some graphic design work when I'm out and about), and it's an overpriced novelty for anyone that doesn't. No remorse here, I love the thing, but I know I'm not a typical end user and there aren't enough people like me to support the kind of R&D that goes into this sort of device.

    The RT takes all of the advantages the pro has, and throws them out the window.

    You're left with an underpowered, oversized tablet with an underwhelming user interface and no applications to speak of. It's pretty much the perfect storm of uselessness. Which makes it no real big surprise that it's selling badly.

    At least with the pro they can sell it to the developer/designer folks (my sister, who does photoshop work on a regular basis, was drooling all over it) instead. The RT? Not so much.

  • Re:The thing is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:01AM (#44326141)

    I cannot believe people are still bringing up this old chestnut

    Listen you dork: only Slashdot readers think this!

    No non-geek *wants to use* a laptop or desktop, they have simply forced to over the past 20 or so years because there was no alternative. These people use the web for social media and shopping, email and play mobile games. That's it. They are not "generating content" because pretty much an insignificant amount of people are. They are not even using MS Word because pretty much no one needs to send formal letters.

    Tablets fill this need perfectly! It has nothing to do with being fashionable. In fact only a geek would think an electronic device is somehow fashionable in the first place. Please get over yourself. Tablets are hear to stay. No one is taking away your precious desktop Gollum

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:15AM (#44326213) Journal

    Or, they could have done this:

    If there's a touchscreen attached (which even Windows 7 can tell you in the Computer Properties), you put the Metro / Modern UI up. If not, make it go the fuck away and give us the Win7 Aero UI.

    Tablets get tiles, mice get menus. That was hard to fix.

  • by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:35AM (#44326341) Homepage

    Same problem as Windows Phone. I know a few people with Windows phones and they love them ... the only thing they lament is the utter lack of apps.

    Unfortunately, it seems that "Microsoft" and "Windows" are tainted brands. No-one wants to spend personal money to be reminded of Monday morning 9am at work.

    It seems to me that there's nothing _wrong_ with Windows RT - if they had got there first, it may well have been adopted in the same way as the iPad. The problem is, it doesn't really do anything that iOS and Android devices don't already do, so why would people go for a non-mainstream device with the associated lack of support from apps and OS updates?

    Add to that the fact that MS chose to set the price point right up there with the iPads - for whatever reason, people will pay Apple's inflated price tag just to get the Apple brand. If they're not interested in brand then they will be comparing on features and price, and Android wins on price grounds hand's down. No one is ever going to pay over the odds to get the MS brand - they never have, and they aren't going to start now.

    If MS had priced it down at the Android levels then they might've picked up a portion of the people who don't care about brand, but as it is they decided they wanted to place themselves as a premium brand and priced themselves out of that market.

    The *only* reason I can think why someone would specifically want an MS device is because they want something that will integrate into their corporate network, with group policies and stuff... and MS specifically ripped that out of Windows RT in order to push people onto their heavy Windows 8 tablets (which are frequently too heavy compared to the other tablets).

  • Re:Bury (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dimeglio ( 456244 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:50AM (#44326421)
    Well at least iPads have a future. As a tax payer, I see this as a wiser investment than purchasing unproved hardware made by an unproven hardware manufacturer.
  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @09:50AM (#44326915)

    We are talking about Surface RT tablets. Not Surface Pros. A long time IT pro should recognize the difference.

  • by Jeff Flanagan ( 2981883 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @10:12AM (#44327109)
    There really is something wrong with Windows RT. It's a Windows 8 look-alike, called Windows, but it can't actually run Windows apps. We understand that x86 Windows apps can't work on ARM, but Joe Consumer doesn't. They should have called it something other than Windows, but instead they muddled their product-line by trying to ride on the Windows brand. If they called their ARM tablet OS "Surface" instead of Windows, they could have avoided a lot of confusion.
  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Friday July 19, 2013 @10:59AM (#44327763) Journal

    Actually Pac-Man was a miracle of programming and should be seen as such. Look up the history of the 2600, it was designed in 1975-1976 and its main function was built around 2 squares and a sprite, aka Pong and games based on Pong. Pac-Man was released in 1980, more than 4 years in a time when progress was making incredible leaps and bounds every year and on top of that its running on custom hardware, again FOUR YEARS ahead of the 2600.

    The fact that they were not only able to get a rough approximation of that game to run on that hardware, but to keep most of the core gameplay intact? It was a fucking miracle and the guy who wrote it frankly ought to be in a programmer hall of fame. Everybody talks about the ghost flickers but do you know WHY the ghosts flickered? because the hardware wasn't even capable of drawing more than one ghost and the character on screen at the same time so the guy drew straight to the screen during refreshes to get more than one ghost on the screen!

    Imagine getting a bottom of the line Intel Atom netbook to run a 4 player Borderlands 2 session at full speed and even THAT isn't as hard as what this guy did because at least the Atom did have SOME graphics focus during design, by comparison the 2600 was already cut down from its already not cutting edge hardware [wikipedia.org] to save costs! Hell the thing didn't even have a frame buffer, so give the man some credit, he got a game running cutting edge hardware to work on a system LONG past its prime and not even designed to run that type of game at all, the equivalent of getting Doom II to run on a 1980s Nintendo game watch.

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