Microsoft CEO: Surface RT sales off to a 'modest' start

Microsoft CEO: Surface RT sales off to a 'modest' start

Summary: Just over two weeks since the Surface RT launched -- dogged with delivery troubles, peeling accessories, and even vulnerable to early critical security flaws -- Microsoft's boss says sales are off to a "modest" start.


Let them eat cake? No, let them buy tablets. 

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says sales of the new ARM-based Surface RT tablets are off to a "modest" start, according to French newspaper Le Parisien.

ZDNet: Surface RT Review

He also told the Parisian publication said that he expects the upcoming Windows Phone 8 sales to "ramp up quickly." Devices running the next-generation Microsoft smartphone platform were released three days after the Surface tablet in late October.

And that's all he said. Not even a hint of anything else. (Thanks for the specifics, Steve.)

The day after Windows Phone 8 device went on sale at the end of October, Ballmer boasted that four million copies of Windows 8 had been sold, the latest desktop operating system which later Surface tablets will run, in just the few days after it launched. (By comparison, in the same four days after Apple released OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the company reported that more than three million copies of the software had been downloaded from the Mac App Store.)

But not everything out of the Redmond, Seattle-based company has been smooth in the past few weeks.

U.K. and European buyers failed to get their shiny rectangles on time, in spite of being promised a delivery date of October 26. Many waited up to a week before they received delivery, leading to widespread anger on Twitter and an intervention by Windows president Steven Sinofsky.

An even smaller number of users, once they had actually received the tablet, complained that the Touch Cover started to split and come away from the material that binds the touch-technology together. 

But just over a fortnight after the Surface went on sale and Windows 8 was launched, primed and ready to be used on desktop and laptops all over the world, Microsoft issued its latest Patch Tuesday advisory notice, warning that Windows 8 had three "critical" security vulnerabilities while the Surface RT device had one critical security flaw.

Patches for the vulnerabilities be dished out over Windows Update tomorrow on Tuesday.

Topics: Mobility, iPhone, Smartphones, PCs

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  • Bricks!? Pah!

    Try living in a thatch hut for a change. You'e getting too much of that new-fangled brick technology.
    • Surface = Yet another Microsoft Failure

      A year ago, Ballmer said that Windows Phone sales were "modest". You can translate that to mean "epic failure".

      Now he's using the same words to describe Microsoft's Surface RT tablet. The Surface was Ballmer's last chance to get it right in the tablet market, but it has flopped. It will cost Ballmer his job. Worst still, it will cost Microsoft its future, as the rest of the word moves to the ARM processor for all consumer computing, Microsoft will have nothing to offer, while its Windows sales will diminish over time.

      Bye Bye Ballmer. You failed with Windows Mobile. You failed with Zune. You failed with the Sidekick phone. You failed with the Kin phone. You failed with Windows Phone 7. Now you have failed with Surface. Bye Bye Ballmer.
      • Cost him his job? Yeah, right!

        Upon what do you base this claim of failure? Oh, and who in the hell is going to fire Ballmer?

        Ballmer may be a bit of a buffoon at times but the only person who owns more Microsoft shares than Steve Ballmer is Bill Gates. Only Gates can fire Ballmer. Will he? Not likely!

        Yes, Zune was a failure. How any years ago was that? Besides, NO ONE has, as yet, succeeded and unseating the iPod.

        What about Xbox? What about Bing?
        M Wagner
        • Bing is hardly a Success

          Bing has yet to turn a profit, and is a huge looser. XBox is successful because a different division created it with it's own skunkworks. The Metroization of the XBox could end up being a bad omen, but who can tell.

          I would say that the Kinect has been another success, but more so in spite of MS than because of it.
          • Reminded me of the current crop of bing commercials

            The current bing commercials are in the Pepsi challenge format of the 80ies blind taste test against google....Coke is still king..
          • I honestly believe that what will happen, is Win8 will start out slow

            on the consumer side, until people decide to get new computers. Then, the increase will begin, esp once companies, and not all, but some will start using MS new OS as well.

            This too will have a cascading effect as people at work using Win8 decide to get the same thing at home.. So success will come, but will take a little time....

          • it is wise

            to think like you... I have a mac but I have come to appreciate differences and have a dell with windows 8 on it.... I understand after days more or less the design.... one screen for fun and one screen for work.... i like the artistry of the start screen... i get sometimes annoyed by some inconsistencies but in the very end I like it...

            I prefer anyway TRILLION times win 8 to Linux.... android and the crappy things like it
      • Surface =

        Yes, we all know that introducing an entirely new and unique smartphone and only gaining a little over 3% of the market when going up against 100's of android devices and he popular iPhone is a huge failure! I mean, Apple has a FULL 16% marketshare and the iPhone was released in 2010, the same time as the Windows 7 phone- oh, wait, make that 2007... to get 16% of the market... that 3% a year against nothing more than Blackberries is so much better than Windows 3% going up against established android makers and Apple's snob appeal, isn't it? By your reasoning, Apple's products are the "epic failures". Why don't you think before you post and try to say something reasonable rather than trollish and you might possibly be taken more seriously. Bye Bye Zdro! You failed!
        • yes the guy that posted the failure comment

          it is a failure in itself
      • Do you always speak from the arse?

        Sorry pal but just because sales are modest doesn't mean the product is a failure. If anything Social Networking and the articles like this don't help because a small percentage of issues can be encountered and completely blown out of proportion. As for the article why must we know sales figures? Does it make or break the article? Will you only buy a product if its sales are high? Is this because you want to blend in and be one of the cool kids? Buy a product because "you" like it not because others are doing it. My Surface RT is an excellent device. It serves its purpose and I enjoy the experience. Actually I don't think there's a better tablet experience than Windows 8/RT. This is a great touch experience and seems more interactive than anything out there. Apple and Google offers a stale experience but go ahead and buy one of those because "Everyone" is doing it.....
        • yeah.. the failure guy

          speaks from the arse....

  • Project sales were 3-5 million in the first quarter

    I recollect reading an article on ZDNet, last week or thereabouts, that predicted sales for Surface RT were 3-5 million in the first quarter. If those predictions are correct, then it should come as no shock that current sales are "modest". The problem is that given Ballmer's incredible ability to overhype everything, "modest" probably means dismal.
    • 3-5 million

      Ha, yeah I wrote that.
      • Zack, do us a favor

        The source has been updated by Microsoft's explanation of what Modest means. It is supply/demand and Microsoft made it clear that the supply is very limited to more demand and their approach to sales is modest. It is not the "# of sold is modest". Please correct.

        All the talk backers who wants Microsoft to just die, please realize that it is supply vs. demand issue and Microsoft's approach to it is modest. # of sold is not and Microsoft have to reveal the number of sold shortly anyway. Please don't compare this with Windows Phone, because none of the phones are Microsoft branded, but Surface is.
        Ram U
        • Hey... all .. pay attention

          Microsoft is the BASE of many system and things in our lives... I like the New Office, I have been working with SQL and many other systems...

          What the hell happens to some people here? They are a solid company... they have been a bunch of years in the market and they have been consistent to a some point.

          I want Microsoft to succeed, I want Apple to succeed... I am not even American but I want these companies to succeed because they are American...
      • and here is the translation

        "And for your Tablet?
        We start modestly as Surface is available on our sales online and in a few stores Microsoft sites in the United States. But the home of the press in particular, is phenomenal. This product is one of the best PC and one of the best tablets in a single machine. Soon, we will be present in more countries, more stores. This is just talk about sales will have the meaning."

        And where did he say that the # of sold are less like you, ldo17, MWagner and others are saying? I am poor in English, but I can understand what he meant and since you and others are from native English speaking countries, you should do good job. I am really sorry Zack, I expected better quality blog from you. not SJVN styled one. If want to read SJVN styled, we have SJVN, AKH and JK, and please spoil your reputation by degrading to their level.

        PS. beard looks great on you.
        Ram U
        • I mean please don't spoil your reputation

          Ram U
        • and also it was not MWagner, it is Zchro.

          MWagner please accept my apologies for adding you into clueless ldo17 group.
          Ram U
        • And here is the source

          Use Google or Bing translator and you will clearly see, he never talked about # of sold items, he talked about Sales strategy. And he also described it as "phenomenal."
          Ram U
      • curious

        If their prediction for a quarter was 3-5 million, then how much was their pre-release production? 1-2 million, at most? No surprise it's not available anymore (the 32gb version). What is disturbing is that the other versions are available... which means the Surface RT is not selling much.