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Microsoft Businesses Handhelds The Almighty Buck Hardware

Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets 550

Posted by samzenpus
from the inventory-reduction-sale dept.
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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  • Bury (Score:5, Funny)

    by k31bang (672440) <{amontoya} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:03AM (#44324915) Homepage

    I think i know an area in New Mexico where they can bury them. With good electronic company.

    • Re:Bury (Score:5, Funny)

      by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:23AM (#44324985)

      I had exactly the same thought but I was gonna say something like, "Those E.T. carts are gonna have some company soon."

      • Re:Bury (Score:5, Funny)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Friday July 19, 2013 @07:00AM (#44325847) Homepage

        Luckily for us they designed their latest desktop operating system around that huge pile of landfill.

      • by GTRacer (234395)
        Every time that landfill gets mentioned somewhere, I feel kinda bad. Am I the only person on Earth that actually sort-of liked E.T. on Atari? Yes, it was maddening at times and yes it wasn't a very good licensed game, but if you were decently careful it wasn't total garbage.

        To me, Pac-Man was a much graver sin because how low are expectations already? Vector-maze, pixel dots and 5 sprites. How hard could it be? Quite, apparently. Would love to see what some of the legends at Activision could do with
        • Re:Bury (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> 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.

    • 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: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
        • 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 bondsbw (888959)

          In this case, they could be "loaned" out instead of given out, under the condition that the operating system stays put.

      • 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.

    • Re:Bury (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:27AM (#44325235)
      If Ballmer's been sitting on them and squirting his Zune, they'll need to go to a hazardous waste facility for sure.
  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:07AM (#44324923)

    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?

    • 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.

      • 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...

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        They were probably right for the simple reason that they're likely not producing them anymore. With that kind of stock vs slow selling speed, it would be dumb not to cease production.

      • by Molochi (555357)

        I could see a repeat of the HP Touchpad firesale. The Best Buy I got my Touchpads at had bins full of them and a line short enough to buy multiples.

      • by molecular (311632)

        > just last week some guys were claiming that they're selling faster than they can produce them...

        that's because they already had a huge stockpile and stopped production. Even 1 sale would mean "they sell faster than we produce them", then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dr Max (1696200)

      "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

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

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:12AM (#44325177) Journal
        I played a bit with a Surface (we have a good relationship with MSR, so lots of people with them are floating around the place) and it seems like a pretty nice device. The problem is not that it's bad, it's that it doesn't really have any compelling advantages. There are several things it seemed to do a bit more cleanly than iOS or Android, but nothing that it did a lot better, and if you want to write code for it you're limited to quite a restrictive environment (which probably doesn't matter to non-geeks, but it will have a knock-on effect on the availability of software).
        • The thing is (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)

          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 pho

          • 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 Hatta (162192)

              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.

              That's the part that's hard to understand. The ipad can do all the things you mentioned, but what makes it better at them than a laptop?

              • The ipad can do all the things you mentioned, but what makes it better at them than a laptop?

                Because they're all things in which the keyboard is just big, clumsy and useless. You get a better experience for not having it.

              • by neonKow (1239288)

                Portability and lower threshold of effort to start using it would be big ones. I used to feel like I didn't need a laptop for much after leaving college since I had a desktop everywhere I worked, but it's much easier to idly browse or do simple tasks with a tablet you can hold in one hand and use than a laptop you have to set down to use. This is why I might use my phone to look up something even while I am in the house.

          • by Zelos (1050172)

            Every train I sit on these days is full of commuters using iPads and assorted 7" Android tablets for reading, video and games.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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

        • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@davidge ... k ['co.' in gap]> 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 FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...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).

            • 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.
        • Not that my opinion counts for much, but I felt like the surface was bad. Not that the hardware was so terrible, but I find the Windows 8 UI infuriating, even on (or especially on) tablets. When I tried to use one for an hour, I couldn't figure out how to make anything work. And I'm a guy with 20 years of professional IT experience, who has used various desktop environments (Windows, MacOS, OSX, Gnome, KDE, etc.) and many different device interfaces (Palm, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows CE, etc).

          Now,

    • 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.

  • 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

    Seriously?
    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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • by grouchomarxist (127479) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:26AM (#44325229)

          FYI. According to this quoteinvestigator article [quoteinvestigator.com], there is no evidence Einstein ever said that.

        • 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?

          They are worried that a lot of this stuff will move out to third parties in the cloud. Are you going to buy Windows for your workstations if all the applications run in whatever browser you like under whatever OS you like? Are you going to buy lots of Windows server licences when you're no longer running many of your own servers? Are you going to buy Exchange when you've moved your corporate email out to gmail?

          They are quite right to be worried - this stuff is gradually going that way. Personally I thin

      • 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.
    • And tablets. Microsoft's been pushing shitty tablet computers for twenty years. Surface is them finally giving up and making them themselves, but it's not like they're new to the field.

      Bill was right: tablet computers are the future! I bet he was pleased when Apple finally got them right.

  • 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 :)

  • 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.

    -jcr

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:15AM (#44324953)

    Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets

    I guess Balmer threw all the chairs out.

  • 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 ohnocitizen (1951674) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:22AM (#44324983)
    Smart move. They are sure to go up in value over time. Like Furbies.
  • 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.

    • by Andy_R (114137) on Friday July 19, 2013 @07:28AM (#44325975) Homepage Journal

      The Surface RTs failure hasn't cost $900m because it's a bad operating system with next to no apps, or because it's overpriced compared to the iPad, or because other manufacturers wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, those are just multi-million dollar mistakes. The billion dollar mistake was keeping on making more and more and more of them when public are not buying.

      Apple famously throws it's weight around with suppliers to cut down on unsold inventory. It famously keeps just 5 days supply of products in stock. They save on warehouse space, they can roll out new products at short notice, and if the world stops buying something, they are not sitting on an unsold mountain of it. Why is this simple, non propitiatory method of not getting stuck with unsold inventory the one thing that Microsoft steadfastly refuse to copy from them?

      • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:52AM (#44326431) Journal

        It wasn't always that way - Apple used to be left with thousands of stale Macs that nobody wanted to buy when they would release a new model. They would end up writing them off. And, in those days, they were suffering from model schizophrenia where you would have 14 different models of the same computer where the only difference between the model numbers was the store they were bought from, or a slightly different load of crapware preloaded.

        Then Tim Cook came in and streamlined the logistics chain into the machine that Apple is today. This is the primary reason he was tapped to be CEO.

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

    by maynard (3337) <[j.maynard.gelinas] [at] [gmail.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....
    • 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...

    • Brand devaluation. They still harbour a hope of making the Microsoft brand a premium brand in the mobile space. If they sold all their devices off at firesale prices, they'd quickly get a reputation as a cheap, low-end brand, which could dog their market positioning for years. Of course, sucking is likely to dog it even more, but they don't seem to be looking at that as a factor.

    • ...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....

      If you give them away or sell them cheap, there is no going back. You removed yourself from the market. Nobody is ever going to buy from you at the "normal" price again. Even with the price reduction that Microsoft has done they'll get in trouble, because they can't sell ever again for a higher price. And I'm sure building a Surface costs Microsoft as much or more as it costs Apple to build an iPad, so that price reduction is basically all profit gone.

  • 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.
  • 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 /. ?

  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:57AM (#44325127)

    I always thought the Surface was meant to spur OEM innovation, by setting a standard or example for how a good Windows 8 tablet experience can work. The hardware is pretty good, although the Pro configuration is still way too expensive for what it does. The real problem is that Win 8 sucks balls, even for a tablet. Vista was bad, and I remember people joking about it being the OS to skip, like ME and 98 (1st edition), but I've never experienced the total vitriolic attitude towards an MS OS like I have with Win 8. People hate it, and they seem to hate the weird touchscreen desktop solutions.

    Right now, my clients can still get away with purchasing Win 7 through VLC downgrade rights and OEM software, but if Microsoft ever drops that option without actually fixing 8, they'll be more than screwed. People are already integrating Apple as it is.

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

    Reasons:
    ------------

    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

  • 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 Spy Handler (822350) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:41AM (#44325297) Homepage Journal

    to any developer who writes and submits a Win8 app to the Microsoft App Store that gets accepted.

  • 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 grahamtriggs (572707) on Friday July 19, 2013 @06:25AM (#44325731)

    Nobody wants a desktop operating system on a mobile device, and nobody wants a mobile operating system on a desktop device.

  • 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.

  • The surface had quite a bit of potential out of the gate as a tablet. In terms of hardware and OS it was fairly well done. There were two serious problems with it though.

    The first was that Microsoft tried to sell it at a 'premium' price from the get go. Widespread speculation before MSRP was released was that for it to be competitive the price was going to have to be roughly have of what it was. The model had some heat and power management issues from a poor choice of chip selection, but was otherwise fairly well executed. You could use the desktop side of the device just like any other Windows 8 device.

    The second problem was the companion Surface RT. It looked almost identical from the outside to the Surface but simply wasn't (lower quality screen etc). The bundled version of Office didn't include Outlook and it couldn't be legally used for business purposes per the license. It looked like it had Windows 8, but it didn't and app incompatibility killed you when you discovered that you had to purchase special RT versions for anything, if they were available at all. The only way to ever install anything to the RT was through their market store where everything had to have a minimum $1.50 purchase price.

    The confusion between the two devices that were almost exactly the same size, shape and name and functionally very different meant that the very bad Surface RT reputation killed the fairly good Surface. Unfortunately for Microsoft with their arrogance of selling both devices for hundreds of dollars more than they should have from the beginning the Surface never stood a chance to begin with.

    Only question is while they dump the devices or while the destroy them?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:34AM (#44326327) Homepage

    Dear Microsoft,

    I can sell all of those Surface Tablets for you at a slight profit.

    Step 1 - Unlock the bootloader on them
    Step 2 - release a free app to load a new OS on them
    Step 3 - release information so Linux and Android people can port to the device quickly.
    Step 4 - Profit. Not a lot of profit but you will get rid of them and help the hardware actually get used.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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