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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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  • by kazade84 ( 1078337 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:08AM (#44324927)

    Then I'll buy one, I could do with a tablet to run Fedora :)

  • My, how times change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:26AM (#44324997) Journal

    15 years ago it was common to question whether Apple could survive in the face of the Windows monopoly. Heck, the joke was that their official name was "Beleaguered Apple Computer," because it seemed like every news article referred to them that way. Then they had a string of hits: the iMac, OS X, the iPod, the iTunes Store, the iPhone, the MacBook Air, and the iPad. Microsoft seems to be totally on the defensive, with flops like the Zune and PlaysForSure and now Surface tablets. They are hanging on in the enterprise, and I suppose the Xbox might be making them some money after billions were invested, but that's about it. A year or so ago Apple began making more money from the iPhone alone than Microsoft makes from everything they do put together. Microsoft seems like yesterday's news. How the mighty have fallen.

  • Re:How can that be? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:38AM (#44325031) Homepage Journal

    read the article..

    MS should have given a warning about the poor sales. it's nearly stock fraud now, they knew few weeks ago and yet they continued to act like they sold ok, 900 million hit is nothing to sneeze at...

  • Re:How can that be? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr Max ( 1696200 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:47AM (#44325085)

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

    Easy. Apple has captured all the not-so-l33t customers and grandparents/mother types, while android collects most of the sheep, so the remaining customers are quite hard to satisfy. Those customers that are left, aren't stupid enough to buy a windows computer that can't run all the x86 programs they usually have? Microsoft on the other hand have to be idiots for not seeing that coming. (note not all customers for the various platfroms fall into the categories specified, but the categories mentioned ussually fall into the specified platform)

  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:49AM (#44325093)
    I would think those units would sell very well once they reloaded them with Linux and marked them down to about $50, same as the Chinese equivalents flooding the market.
  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:49AM (#44325095)
    Maybe they are afraid of
    step 1) Give away inventory for free at schools etc
    step 2) Schools find a way to root devices and install Linux (Android, ...) on them
  • unsurprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:54AM (#44325117) Homepage Journal

    Moon still orbiting Earth, news at 11.

    Seriously, this is probably the least surprising news of the year.

    MS jumping on the tablet bandwagon with a windows tablet? *yawn* the most obvious business decision Balmer could make.

    That it would suck and sell badly? The only people who didn't expect that were the ones not yet born when MS launched the Zune. Not only that MS first version of everything sucks so bad you have to be either a MS employee or a total moron with brain damage, amnesia and an IQ below room temperature to buy one, but especially in the mobile sector MS is so much of a non-player that their de-facto-acquisition of Nokia destroyed one of the largest mobile phone manufacturers instead of boosting the sales of MS mobile devices.

    If they gave away a "greatest idiot on the planet" medal with each tablet sold, they might increase sales and do something honest for a change.

    So, aside from click-baiting, why is this article on /. ?

  • Re:Bury (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:55AM (#44325121)
    Good point, although currently that might be a DMCA violation. Even if it was legal, the technical hurdle would mean it's probably still preferable to having them buy properly supported Linux/Android tablets.
  • by erth64net ( 47842 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:04AM (#44325157) Homepage
    Wow, for being based upon a trash OS, I'm not surprised to see a loss. Although with less than a year on market, and showing nearly a billion in losses...ouch!

    Their "newish" XBox product has lost nearly three billion in the decade its been on market as well. The latest (still unreleased) model is getting really harsh reviews, for doing things such as dropping backwards compatibility, and it still hasn't even hit the market yet.

    Is Microsoft successful in any market, where they're not already entrenched?
  • by mythix ( 2589549 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:26AM (#44325227)

    That's what happened with the win7 phones, they sold them dirt cheap after all the early adopters bought them for full price.
    Now all the early adopters will never by a moble windows product again, including the surface.

    I bought a lumia, for more then 400 euros, and 2 weeks later they:
    - told me it would not be able to upgrade to win 8
    - slashed the price in half, if not more

    now why on earth would I go and buy another product with a microsoft label again? right, I wouldn't, I didn't and I'm pretty sure I won't for quite some time...

  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:39AM (#44325289)


    1. too expensive for the specs

    2. the keyboard looks like shit (and probably quite literally feels like shit, too)

    3. doesn't run traditional Windows desktop apps

    Another reason I wish I could add, but in reality is not a reason:

    4. doesn't run Linux / vendor-locked

  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:51AM (#44325351)
    c) give them to developers.

    Developers can be total whores when it comes to snagging some free shit.

  • Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:17AM (#44325469)

    I have no problem with Metro on a touch screen. I think it works as well as anything else I've used, better than the stock Android UI. Turns out those big tiles are really nice when you are batting at things with big, imprecise fingers. You don't want to try and operate the Windows desktop UI in touch, it doesn't work well. There are old tablets that do just that (people forget there have been Windows tablets since the XP days) and they are painful to use without a pen. Your fingers just aren't precise enough for the desktop UI.

    So makes good sense on a tablet. The issue is trying to ram it in to a desktop OS. There is doesn't make sense. You have a nice precise mouse to use. It just takes up space and occludes your work. With a mouse and keyboard, it is a bad interface.

    What they should have done (not that it would have helped the surface, there's no tablet market, there's an iPad market) it had the Metro UI for Windows RT, and not for Windows 8. Windows 8 should then have been able to run Metro programs in a resizable window. That way the tablet is usable, the desktop is usable, and it can run tablet programs, if needed.

    In fact, turns out 8 is real nice when you do just that. You pick up Stardock's Start 8, which gives you a start menu instead of start screen, and Modern Mix, which takes Metro apps and puts them in a window instead of full screen. It works really great then.

    The problem isn't with the UI, it is with where it is used.

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

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:33AM (#44325521) Homepage Journal
    Not to mention they failed business 101, when entering a (nearly) saturated market you sure as hell better be cheaper than your already established competitor, especially when people's biggest complaint about the ipad isn't the multi-tasking, it isn't the lack of external storage, it's the price. Pricing your tablet that has an obviously relatively under-developed eco-system the same as your biggest competitor who already has an established user and dev base was beyond stupid. Had Microsoft priced the entry level at $399 or even $449 right from the start they might not have had such a spectacular failure on their hands. As it stands, most people willing to drop $500 on a tablet go with an ipad, those looking for something cheaper and/or more flexible go with Android.... Leaving Windows with the very small market share of people willing to shell out for an ipad, but not wanting one for some reason.

    Yes, and before I get flamed about said reasons, most people aren't geeks, and the ipad customer satisfaction surveys tend to show that the vast majority of people who are willing to shell out for an ipad are happy with it, leaving MS with an incredibly tiny potential market.
  • Re:The thing is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @06:09AM (#44325673)

    I don't know about that... People keep saying what a "fashion device" iPads are, but have you actually seen how people actually use them?

    My experience:

    I actually have many tablets (I'm a developer, so that's my excuse...) and here's my uses for them

    iPad 3:
    - Often kept in the kitchen to watch TV on while cooking (Optimum app is one of rare useful things that a cable company gives out!)
    - Used for reading "large format" color stuff (ie. Comics)
    - Sitting around browsing the web when I have no real desire/need to actually "interact" with the world... just read about it.
    - Note taking from time to time when I'm too lazy to get my laptop.
    - Video chatting with parents

    iPad Mini
    - Primary reading device (at least every night before bed. Kindle app set to white on black text w/ backlight and contrast way down to offset light-in-the-eyes effect.)
    - Light gaming (mostly things like card games, although the occasional larger game)
    - The occasional use at the gym to watch something I've pulled down from either iTunes, Tivo or BT

    My wife's iPad 2, which she uses for..
    - Everything. Of course, she's not much of a "power user", but basically it's her primary portal to Facebook, Twitter, all those things normal people do on a computer. She also has a MB Air 11" which (with a wirelessly connected external drive) she manages her photos, does her normal work on, etc. Most of the time it just sits here gathering dust, though.)

    My parent's, my Wife's parent's iPad 2.
    - Facetime and Maps. We generally video chat with either set of parents with the kids a few times a month. They love it, the kids love. It's a massive win. In addition, when I was traveling a lot last year (India, Europe) I was able to video chat with my folks every few days. Trying to get either parent set to setup Skype just Wasn't Happening (and we tried!) but Facetime "just worked" enough for them to get it. Hell, my 80+ year old mom, who's completely computer-phobic, can actually make and answer FT calls. Oh, and Maps and Weather. My dad, father-in-law both spend a really long time with both maps and weather apps. I have no idea why. I guess it's an old man thing.

    I also have 3 other computers (MB Air, MB Pro and random PC Tower.) The MB Air is my "sitting on the couch" laptop when I just need to write stuff up. the Pro plugged into 2 27" displays for "actual work" and the PC for... gathering dust. I have a wide variety of phone-class devices which I switch around to (like I said, I'm a mobile-focused developer.) At the moment, I'm using a Galaxy S4.

    Finally, I have a Nexus 7. When I discovered that I really liked the iPad Mini (smaller, lighter, easier to lug around vs. iPad normal) I thought the Nexus would be even better (smaller, better display) but I just can't get comfortable using it. I have no way of explaining why, other than to just call it... too clunky. I gave it to my dad to see if he'd like to use it instead of his 2nd gen Kindle or iPad 2, but he didn't like it either, so now it's just gathering dust until I need to do some dev/testing on it. I'll probably end up giving it to my sister-in-law who's still using a old Motorolla Xoom I gave her (a device -she- uses quite a bit, too, mostly for the same web-browsing, Facebooking stuff that my wife uses her iPad for.)

    So as perhaps you can see there are use cases for all of these device that maybe -you- don't have, but others have and enjoy using these types of devices for filling those needs. Each and every time a device listed above is used in the manner described, it's in a way that using a regular laptop/computer, while certainly feasible, just wouldn't be as a good experience as using the tablet. Fashion device? The tablets all mentioned above almost never leave the house, so if we got them to be "cool" for other people to see, then they're massively poor at it. They are, however, massively useful for what we use them for. I don't mean to be derogatory, however your comment (and it's certainly a popular one around here) seems very much like "I don't understand it, therefore I will make fun of those who use what I don't understand."

  • by AdmV0rl0n ( 98366 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @07:57AM (#44326121) Homepage Journal

    By talk, obviiously, that ends up more 'argue'.

    During the 'talk' it became apparent that Sinofsky quite believed that I no longer needed a file manager, and that it was OK to both break my current work mode, and provide a new broken work mode, and provide a windows machine that would not run windows software, nor would it be able to be added to a domain. I mean, what can be better than if I create local users I have to work through two UIs and process methods to do what happened under local users previously.

    Its quite compounded when you even now try to have conversations.
    "I run engineering for the core group in the os division. Let’s talk about the things you have issues with. Winrt & domain join is the big one, right? Usability for desktop users – I am guessing on non touch machines is the second. I am happy to talk about either of these."

    I've turned that 'offer' down now - because quite frankly there comes a time when a vendor *actually* needs to be listening and stop talking. And 'I am happy to talk about either of these' is in the end insane. Noboady at MS should be 'happy' to talk about these. When they start being as 'unhappy' as I am and they start to actually get a clue, then I may start talking.

    I think it was fairly clear to anyone sensible that RT (The system and the API), Surface, and Notro and other aspects were wrong, still are wrong, and are not going to stop being wrong because someone in marketing things they can be made 'right'.

    I will admit a perverse pleasure in some basic historically proven events. Sinofsky being fired. Deserved for attitude alone, but partially a shame as he can deliver something - that somthing has to be right however. And seeing his utter failing in both 8 and with Surface after he spent so much time bullshitting about 'how great they are'.

    98% of windows stuff happens on the real windows systems. Even in 8, that translates back to people running desktop and installing back a start menu, and running their standard legacy software.

    I've tested 8.1 and the fundamentals remain utterly broken. The window dressing of 'fixing' what was wrong isn't whats required to fix the problems.

  • Re:Bury (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <slashdot@nexusu[ ]rg ['k.o' in gap]> on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:13AM (#44326199) Homepage

    What exactly would be illegal ?

    AFAIK all the Microsoft ARM devices have mandatory secureboot. Cracking it would likely be a violation of the DMCA.

  • We're surprised? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:17AM (#44326227) Journal

    MS sells a Windows tablet that doesn't run any windows programs and has nearly zero native apps, and it's not selling well? The tablet offered essentially nothing, and people realized that. Apple tablets had a huge support structure (iTunes) when they launched - they couldn't DO anything, but you had access to CONSUME all sorts of stuff. Android tablets had a reasonable support structure, and if you decided that you just wanted to try it out -or hack it - there were dozens of bottom dollar versions you could buy and not feel bad throwing away if it didn't pan out.

    Microsoft actually missed the boat waaaaay back when they EOL'd WM6 phones and didn't have a replacement. If they had had the forethought to create a migration plan before WM was left for dead, they would have been beyond either of the other two players. Granted the idea of a captured marketplace with dirt cheap applications (iTMS) was a true paradigm shift in software sales and mobile applications, but MS was caught flat footed. In trying to catch up, they put their expensive hardware out before anybody was using the software. If the Surface RT had launched 5 years after the Win phone, it might have had a chance.

  • Re:Bury (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radiumsoup ( 741987 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @09:27AM (#44326691)

    I have a Surface Pro, and am using it right now to type this, in fact. It works great. Battery is fantastic, speed is surprisingly good, OS is very stable, and once I calibrated the touch screen for my preferred input angles, all was happy in radiumsoupland. As a long-time IT pro and current freelance IT consultant, I love it. I do not need a second, but if they went on sale for half price, I'd buy at least one more for my wife, and possibly another for the kids. The Windows 8 touch interface is just an interface (and is optional), and the underlying Windows architecture is largely the same, so in my observation, all the bellyaching about it being a horrible OS is coming either from those with a preconceived hatred for MS experiencing full-on confirmation bias, or folks trying to make a name for themselves in the blog space by "daring" to go against Microsoft.

    All this negative press has people wary about it. The device itself is fantastic in my experience. The "failure" of the Surface is a marketing problem, not a technical one. If they can fix the marketing aspect, the Surface (and subsequent devices) do indeed have a future, and a very bright one indeed.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.