Microsoft Windows RT and 8 sales: Signs point to a major flop

“The Windows world is rocking with news that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the French-language daily Le Parisien that sales of the Surface RT tablet ‘are starting modestly,'” Woody Leonhard reports for InfoWorld. “Unfortunately, the original interview hasn’t been published online, so it’s hard to tell precisely how Ballmer may have phrased or couched that comment, and as usual, there’s absolutely nothing official emanating from Redmond.”

“All signs point to the Surface with Windows RT selling slowly,” Leonhard reports. “With only two manufacturers offering Windows RT products, any sizable demand for either the Microsoft or Asus products should’ve led to widespread shortages. Microsoft ran out of its cheapest Surface RT — $499 for 32GB with no cover/keyboard — for about a week. The identical machine with a black touch cover ($599) has always been available for immediate delivery. I’ve never seen a single ‘not available’ notice on an Asus Windows RT machine.”

Leonhard reports, “I don’t expect to see sales for the Surface RT to pick up, even over the holidays. With widespread reports of Touch Cover keyboards that split open like Gallagher’s watermelons, Metro apps that continue to underwhelm, complaints of rampant advertising in the apps (gimme a break — the Metro Music and Video apps are nothing but wall-to-wall advertisements), and reported audio stuttering and spontaneous muting problems, not to mention demonstrably lethargic performance and rumors of astronomical return rates, the Surface RT version 1.0 may well be circling the drain.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “SouthRoad” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Ballmer: Microsoft Surface sales ‘modest’ – November 12, 2012
Microsoft Surface Touch Cover splits within days, exposing wire; early users complain – November 9, 2012
Slate reviews Microsoft’s Surface tablet: Too slow, mercilessly buggy; why is it so bad? – November 6, 2012
Microsoft’s bloated Windows RT eats 16GB of Surface tablet – November 5, 2012
InfoWorld reviews Microsoft Surface RT: A disappointment; you’re better off with Apple’s iPad – October 31, 2012
Acer delays Windows RT tablets; adopts ‘wait and see’ approach after poor Surface RT reviews – October 30, 2012
Gizmodo reviews Microsoft Surface RT: Do not buy; inferior to Apple’s iPad; the worst of both worlds – October 25, 2012
The Verge reviews Microsoft Surface RT tablet: ‘The whole thing is honestly perplexing; who is this for?’ – October 24, 2012
Analyst: Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet priced too high, could be the next Zune – October 18, 2012
Dvorak: ‘Microsoft’s Surface tablet isn’t the Apple iPad, so it shouldn’t be priced like one’ – October 18, 2012
Microsoft inexplicably claims Surface RT tablet lower resolution screen beats iPad with Retina display – October 17, 2012
Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012


  1. I know far more people who upgraded to windows 8 than I was expecting. It’s not my cup of tea and I didn’t go there bit the PC version appears to be getting traction in my neck of the woods

  2. Costs more, does less. Confusing and buggy. Runs Windows but NOT compatible with existing Windows apps. So bloated that the standard installation takes up half of the advertised 32GB of storage. A touch-screen tablet that requires the “optional” $100 keyboard for full functionality.

    I just don’t understand why it’s not selling very well… 🙂

    1. Yeah, it’s puzzling. Steve Ballmer himself was clearly impressed with this whiz-bang gizmo, hadn’t seen anything else “out there” of interest to consumers, and Microsoft’s marketing team were tripping out with those West Side Story-type commercials—more entertaining than anything they’d put out before. Dancing in the streets, throwing those tablets like frisbees, working a clickity-click chorus with those covers. Hey, maybe that’s why they’re splitting…

  3. Microsoft marketing falling all over themselves creating a reckless revenue system in their OS with ads never considering consumers think of blatant ads as an anathema. You know there was someone at MS who was completely ignored telling anyone who would listen these tablets just weren’t ready. But Ballmer just went ahead with the release date anyway, shooting the whole company in both feet and now it starts to totter. It’s telling these tablets just a few months ago were clearly barely functional, if at all, and you don’t go from problematic to perfection in only weeks or even a few months.

    1. …”You know there was someone at MS who was completely ignored telling anyone who would listen these tablets just weren’t ready

      That someone was criticised for lack of faith, enthusiasm and positivity. The rest were convinced that what they were creating was something truly radical, truly different, truly brilliant…

      Much like Fox News kept convincing their audiences how the Republican presidential candidate was winning, and how all those polls were wrong… (also known as the ostrich syndrome)

      1. Not to get too technical, but while the polls turned out to be pretty accurate, the popular vote was close. I think the real question for our country moving forward is why we still use the electoral college, or at least use a winner-takes-all in 48 of the 50 states. Unfortunately, this system has caused the opposite of what the Founding Fathers wanted to protect against: one or two states basically deciding the presidential election. This past election, it was not only Ohio which was the key state (thus defining the issues discussed in detail), but it even came down to a few counties in Ohio.

        Given the closeness of the Bush-Gore and the Obama-Romney elections, I think now is a good time to revisit the worth and reason behind the electoral college, and perhaps change how votes are allocated to the candidates.

        1. Wrong wrong wrong. Ohio didn’t decide it. Ohio is 15 electoral votes. Obama needed another 255. Every state matters and mattered.

          It’s a good system. We’re not a country of individuals. States are units in the federal system. Each state has its own gamut, and how that turns out becomes their placement. Anything else would both erode state power and erode our identity as being part of one another, and not a mere collection of individuals. It’s the very concept of a nation, of a state.

          So yeah, thanks for playing. Maybe stick to biz law.

          1. Seamus, please accept my apologies, as it was my fault for bringing Fox News into this discussion.

            Besides, of all political vitriol that gets spilled on this site, the above two comments were fairly intelligent and fairly mild, not to mention rather non-partisan.

    1. While indeed Apple and others stole Ballmer’s thunder, there’s no doubt that MS will successfully undercut Apple’s price to pick up xmas sales.

      … and again, i caution against the Apple faithful from being overconfident. The Surface RT is crap for productivity users, as we all know. But with the Surface Pro, MS has again denied Apple entry into mainstream corporate market.. It is beyond reason why Apple isn’t attacking that market with every tool at its disposal. By now, Apple should be selling the Fortune 500 MacBook Airs by the millions, and iPads by the tens of millions. Why aren’t they?

      1. Maybe because that market demands massive discounts and free training for the most trivial operations?

        This is just Apple being Apple. They’ve NEVER seen themselves as a purveyor to the business market, at least not since the Sculley era.

        1. Strange, Apple has long hosted an educational store presence and corporate employee discount programs. They even prolonged the life of the iMac to offer the educational eMac version.

          Why can’t they tailor a line of business machines today?

          Apple indeed has the huge advantage of a clear focused vision, offering a very limited palette of machine configurations. How is that not compatible with corporate IT departments which prefer to offer a very limited choice of machines to employees? Why let HP and Dell take the easy profits?


              I stand corrected: even though Apple does not disclose enterprise sales in its SEC filings, analysts such as Andrew Bartels claim that Apple has increased corporate sales by “clandestine” operations — i.e., personal aquisition of iPads that are reimbursed by the firms.

              “The Apple assault on the corporate market has so far taken place without much formal Apple support, and probably without Apple itself understanding its full extent,” Bartels said.

              Imagine what Apple could do if it actually tried to formally support enterprise markets.

              In contrast, DELL reports “Our improved profitability for Fiscal 2012 was in part due to growth in our enterprise solutions and services business. For Fiscal 2012, enterprise solutions and services revenue grew 6% year-over-year to $18.6 billion, while gross margins generated from this category grew 10% year-over-year.”

              That’s $18.6 billion that could easily have been Mac sales.

      2. “Has again”?
        You use the present tense when the Surface Pro is due next year.

        Apple is doing fine. They are easier to support and IT departments are slowly coming around (often using iPads or Macs to manage PCs). All the new use cases are being developed on iPads: sales (Sales Force, etc), doctors, lawyers, pilots, restaurants, airplanes, store check out, text books…

  4. They had the seeds of a good idea with their Courier concept. But being Microsoft, due to dogma and internal fighting between the various departments (Office, Windows and E&D) they’ve come up with the “Duck Billed Platypus” that is Windows RT.

  5. I mean this in all seriousness… why is Steve Ballmer still CEO of Microsoft? I have never seen anyone who is so completely delusional about the state of their company. Microsoft has missed the boat on every recent new technology. Is there no quality control at Microsoft. When are they going to realize that something must change? Working in IT, I am talking to people everyday who say they are so fed up with Microsoft products. They are so happy with their iDevices, that they say their next computer will be a Mac. I do think that some of the issue is the lack of quality and “ready for primetime” apps with Windows RT and Surface, but I am hearing a lot of apathy for Microsoft and people who are just sick of the frustration. I think it goes beyond the products and effects the brand as a whole. Microsoft is just leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths and they see viable alternatives.

    1. Probably has something on Bill Gates, who is Microsoft board chairman. Either that, or it’s an extreme case of loyalty.

      Or, Gates wants Microsoft to flounder for a few more years, so he “return” to save his company, like Steve Jobs.

  6. “not to mention demonstrably lethargic performance and rumors of astronomical return rates”

    My mind flashed back to the department store where I worked in the electronics section long ago. The buyer was pushing a “sale” of cheap am/fm portable radios. A few days into the promotion the buyer called for a “how’s the sale going” report.

    “Not bad, but we’re having trouble with those radios.”
    “How so?”
    “They’re selling, but we’re spending a lot of time at the front desk dealing with returns. It’s just not a good product.”
    “How long have you worked with us?
    “About two weeks.”
    “You’re pretty opinionated for someone who’s only worked with us for two weeks”
    “Maybe so. But those radios are still junk.”

    Update to a current day call from our Microsoft suppliers: “How are our new tablets selling?” Except for the “they’re selling” part, you can fill in the rest.

  7. Know who I pity most? Ballmer’s kids. Remember, no iPod in their possession! Now they have grown and are probably in college, just in time for new house rules from Ballmer T. Clown… no iPad! Here kiddies, enjoy the MS Surface.

    Those poor kids just can’t catch a break!

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