Microsoft and key retailers chop Surface RT prices by $150

Microsoft and key retailers chop Surface RT prices by $150

Summary: Microsoft has slashed Surface RT prices by $150 in its latest move to clear the channel of its first-generation ARM-based tablet/PC hybrids.


Call it a back-to-school sale. Call it excess inventory clearance. Whatever you call it, Microsoft is stepping up its fire sale on its ARM-based Surface RT tablet/PC hybrids.

On July 14, as rumored last week, Microsoft and partners chopped the 32 GB Surface RT base price by to $349 (from $499) and the 64 GB model to $449 (from its original $599), at the Microsoft Store, Staples and Best Buy in the U.S.

That deal follows on the heels of steep Surface RT (and Surface Pro) discounting at some recent Microsoft conferences, including TechEd North America, TechEd Europe and the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). At WPC last week in Houston, many of the 15,000 in attendance stood in lines which occasionally lasted two hours to get a Surface RT device for $99 and a Surface Pro device for $399. Microsoft also launched a Surface RT discount for schools and universities (not for individual students) earlier this summer.

Microsoft execs have repeatedly declined to say how many Surface RTs the company had built and/or how many the company has sold since the devices were launched in October 2012. Some Microsoft watchers estimated the company had far too many Surface RTs produced, severely overestimating demand for the device which cannot run existing Windows apps.


At WPC last week, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told attendees there were "upgrades" to the Surface RT and Surface Pro coming in fiscal 2014. (Microsoft's fiscal 2014 runs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.) Turner didn't specify whether these upgrades would be new models with more powerful ARM and x86 processors or not. Turner also said to expect new Surface accessories and accessory colors at some point in FY 2014.

Microsoft also is widely believed to be building its own 8-inch Surface mini product, which could debut this calendar year.

Surface customers will be able to refresh their devices with Windows 8.1 once Microsoft makes it available to customers later this year. The 8.1 release includes improvements to Surface's ability to work in portrait mode; a new Start Button and boot-straight-to-desktop option, and other performance and usability enhancements. The preview of Windows 8.1 is available for both Surface Pro and Surface RT users to test now. RTM of the 8.1 release is expected by late August 2013.

While some find the Surface RT's performance to be so lackluster that even a $349 price tag still isn't enticing, I'm not in that camp. The lighter weight and better battery performance (about 8-9 hours, compared to 4-5 for the Surface Pro) make the RT a better choice for me, as I use it as a PC companion device -- and not a PC replacement. I use my RT just like I used to use my iPad and find it fine for light email and Web browsing. The Surface RT's biggest limitation in my case is its reliance on Wi-Fi, as even here in New York City, Wi-Fi is still far from ubiquitous. 

Update (July 15): Looks like the Surface RT cuts are also coming to other countries. Neowin has a rundown:


Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tablets, ARM, PCs, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Very good news...

    ...for those, who are yet to test productivity gain that they can make buy using Surface.

    Let us see how this impacts on toy tablets.
    • And what pray tell are not toy tablets?

      None provide a real OS.
      Arm A. Geddon
      • Re: None provide a real OS.

        Curious what are the OSes that run tablets. Imaginary? Virtual? Not real?
        • Sssssssssh!! You're spoiling the fun.

          Can't you see I'm fishing. You've been here(ZDNet) long enough you always get someone saying how one OS or another is a toy. Guess I should have put a "/s" at the end of the post.

          p.s. I'm bored Bored of Surface, Windows 8, and all things Microsoft. I'm just plain bored...

          Arm A. Geddon
          • I don't understand the "fake OS" argument either

            It doesn't make sense.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • /s

            Think sarcasm. Got it?
            Arm A. Geddon
          • I know

            Some people really use that argument, though.

            I don't know why
            Michael Alan Goff
          • When you have nothing good to say about

            what you rally around, call all others fake or toy.....
          • Oh, sorry to have cared your fish

            Of course, all the OSes are not real. Can you touch an OS?
      • None?

        That does not include MS.

        All the negative hype about Win8 may well disappear within a year when people realize they can purchase a 7,8, or 10 inch tablet which can do everything their desktop machines do.

        I fully realized the importance of that when I found that the most important app on my Android tablet was Team viewer, so I could remote connect to my machine at home.

        The pieces are coming together for MS after a shaky entry into the post-pc era.
  • Can't wait

    I'm (probably) getting one tomorrow, when I can pull the money from the bank
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Why?

      If you are happy with that price, then well and good.

      Honestly, I believe that in a very short time these devices will be for sale at retailers for $99. Not just because they are not selling, but because it seems that a new model might not be far away.
      • I'm glad you asked

        The way I see it is that this is a good price.

        250$ for the tablet and 100$ for Office. I bought an Android tablet at one point for 250$ and it was 7", 16gb of space, and had a Tegra 3.

        This is like that, but with Office.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Michael Goff, I’d be interested to hear @ your Office License.

          My understanding is that all Surfaces ship with the Home or Student version of Office, so strictly speaking you can’t use them for work.

          Do you:-
          a) have a full Office license, or
          b) plan to use the Surface only for home or recreational work, or
          c) just skirt around this technicality (fair enough), or
          d) something else entirely?

          With so many people touting the Surfaces as “serious, productivity platforms” I’d be really interested to know what your plans are.

          (Of course, I may have been misinformed about the Office license on the Surface RT and Pro. If that is the case, I trust someone will set me straight.)
          • 365

            If you have 365 at work, you can run Office on up to 4 computers. Otherwise, not sure if there is anything in the licensing that states what percentage use of the device has to be in a business to be considered Office for business use. If you personally own the device and use it at home as well as work than I would consider it a personal device.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • 365?

            "If you have 365 at work, you can run Office on up to 4 computers.”

            Yes, but then you have to subscribe to a separate service to get Office and a major selling point of Surface computers (RT and Pro) is that they come with MS Office installed.

            However, as I mentioned, the version of MS Office shipped with the Surface (RT and Pro) is the Home & Student version.

            I’m pretty sure that Microsoft see a distinction between the Full and the Home & Student versions of Office! Otherwise, it’d be something of a miracle if Microsoft ever sold a full Office license to anyone, except vast corporations who want a service contract.
          • The answer would be D

            As it is Home/Student, I plan on using it to do college work.

            It works perfectly for that.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Or b) if I hadn’t forgotten “Student"

            My mistake. I didn’t realise that you were enrolled as a student.
          • Ah, then yes it's B

            Yep, for about another year. I might just end up getting 365 at Uni price before I leave, that might be nice.

            This is enough for 90% of my college work, the missing part is a good IDE. But I doubt Microsoft is able to get Visual Studio on there, or even if they can they won't.
            Michael Alan Goff
  • Love my Surface RT

    For testing at work I have Android and iOS tablets but the Surface RT is by far my favorite. In my opinion, iOS has the best apps, Android has generally the same type of apps that are cheaper or free and Metro is lacking in apps and mostly the ones they do have are of poor quality. If you are app centric, RT may not be your OS.

    With that said, I really find I don't use many apps as the browser in RT is just so capable and my bookmarks sync between all my Windows devices including RT. Don't use a Facebook app, I go to the web page and get full FB. Same with Pandora, Gmail, etc.

    Then couple that with 95% functional local Office (now with Outlook in 8.1), full keyboard and mouse support for things like Office and RDP, full USB port that I can charge other mobile devices with, etc. Surface RT is just such a productive and flexible device.
    Rann Xeroxx