Microsoft's Ballmer not ready to reveal Windows 8, Surface sales

Microsoft's Ballmer not ready to reveal Windows 8, Surface sales

Summary: While Microsoft prepares for 2013 to be its busiest year, Steve Ballmer is not yet ready to start talking about Windows 8 and Surface tablet sales.


Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is expecting 2013 to be one of the company's busiest years, but he's not yet ready to start talking about Windows 8 and Surface sales.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ballmer said that in terms of Windows 8 and Surface sales for the first few days, "there's not really much that's interesting to report."

On any ordinary day, that probably would've plunged stock price by a good few percent. 

So, whether or not Ballmer is playing his cards close to his chest, preparing for some big reveal later, or sales haven't been all that interesting, it remains to be seen.

Ballmer went on to say: "If you were to call the retailers, they would say, 'Hey, off to a very good start'." and that, "we're out of stock [in] a lot of places on touch-[screen] machines".

Reading between the lines, and putting this together with what I've been hearing from the supply chain and the OEMs, I think that Microsoft has decided to play to safe with Surface and keep the initial order modest. It's better to sell out of tablets, and keep the customers wanting more, than it is to end up will millions gathering dust and have to have a frantic fire sale down the line -- such as the one that HP ended up having with the TouchPad.

As for Windows 8, I have to say that this is the most subdued Windows launch that I can recall. The buzz doesn't seem to be there, and instead it's been replaced by confusion over pricing, hardware requirements, and the whole issue of touch. There also seems to be a great deal of confusion over the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT, specifically nobody quite knows what the latter is even for.

This much consumer confusion at the point of release seems to suggest that the industry -- specifically Microsoft and its hardware partners -- have not done a good enough job of educating the masses about Windows 8.

We'll have to wait until Microsoft unveils financial details for this quarter to see if this had a negative effect on sales.

UPDATE: Ballmer revealed during the Build keynote today (October 30) that 4 million Windows 8 upgrades were sold in first three days.

Image source: Microsoft.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Tablets, Windows

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
  • I think sales are probably consistant with previous launches

    FWIW I stood in line for about 4 hours in the Durham location for my Surface.
    • OH?

      Really? I'm glad I preordered mine because I was going to have to go to the pop-up store at Southpoint if I didn't.
      • Yeah, but it was kinda fun

        They (Microsoft) brought us breakfast (bagels), lunch (pizza) and plenty of drinks and candy, plus they had all sorts of XBox and Surface raffles going on to pass the time. A few vlogs were there and I got to do a couple interviews on camera. I was surprised considering this was a Microsoft release and while I do like Windows (among others) Microsoft isn't "cool" per se in the consumer space. I got there at 10 am and really thought I was going to be able to just walk up, get a Surface and leave :)
        • oh, they brought you food?

          Nice, this Microsoft. Did they pay you money to take the Surface too?
          Must be confusing and new experience for them, indeed.
          • It's strange

            when other companies do nice things, it's being nice.

            When Microsoft does it, they're bribing.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • That's really quite unnecessary

            If you do not like MS, well and good, but do try to retain some perspective. Looking after customers is a critical business aspect for all companies.
          • Microsoft looks after its customers?

            Since when did Microsoft give a rat's ass about their customers? They've held onto their market share in the desktop/laptop arena basically because they had a monopoly in the business world. People used Windows at work, so they use Windows at home.
            Now, they're trying to enter an area where they don't have that established advantage, and they're floundering because people are tired of their crap.
            Microsoft has time and time again screwed over their customers (e.g. Microsoft shoved a big stick up the butts of its Plays for sure customers when the Zune was completely incompatible with it).
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
    • more than likely

      I pre-ordered mine as well. Love the device, well built and Windows RT provides a superior tablet experience. I also upgraded my Thinkpad to Windows 8 Pro. I plan to upgrade the other 3 PCs my family uses as well. The price point is just right and the consumer preview ran great on the older hardware. As for the confusion about RT and Windows 8 how is there any confusion? RT is comparable to an IOS, Android experience where you can't run Native X86 (PC Applications). It's a controlled environment like the competition offers. This clearly suits a number of people who don't need X86 support. As for Win 8 Pro that's for businesses and power users.
      • Yes there is confusion

        It might be obvious to those reading there but it's not to the average consumer. MS has not do a good job (at least that I have seen) or really made much of any attempt to explain the difference to the average consumer.
  • Anti-FUD


    "We're seeing preliminary demand well above where we were with Windows 7, which is gratifying," Ballmer said at an event launching new Windows phones.
    • What's your point?

      I'm not claiming they are not seeing what he says but are you claiming by quoting him that we are supposed to believe everything a CEO says? If so that means you fulling believe Jobs was right every time he said an Apple product was magical or the best in the market. Their job is to talk up their company and products. I'll wait for actual sales numbers to be released.
  • I've witness plenty consumer confusion....

    at the retail stores. Heard one guy desperately pleading for "regular Windows". Heard a few say they're going to purchase a Mac instead. Can't blame them, if you're going to learn a brand new UI with Windows 8/modern, may as well get a Mac.
    • Or switch to the GNU/Linux desktop and save some cash

      Depending, of course, on the applications one needs.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • lol...

      "Can't blame them, if you're going to learn a brand new UI with Windows 8/modern, may as well get a Mac."

      Sorry... but that did make me chuckle.

      I can certainly see it happening, though.
    • No the W8 UX is much nicer than the mac, ios, and android UXs

      If you're going to learn a new one the W8 one is the one to learn.
      Johnny Vegas
      • Subjective.

        What's the saying? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? ;-)

        The funny thing is, OSX is more related to "regular Windows" than Windows 8/Modern is. Users will probably have less of a learning curve migrating to OSX than they will with Windows 8/Modern. OSX remains a desktop driven OS first, Windows has turned into a Frankenstein trying to merge two different worlds together.
        • C: drive or root (/)

          If they switched to MAC or Linux what percentage will be confused by not having a regular 'C' or 'D' drive they are used to of using?
          • You're kidding right?

            All of the basic users I know couldn't tell you where Program Files are or what's inside it. Most average users work out of their user/home space so it's a pretty flimsy argument to say that people using Mac/Linux will be confused without a C drive.
      • .....

        The new ui is god awful on windows. thankfully if you have to use it you can mod it to make it almost useful.Windows 7 and xp are still much much better os for productivity though so unless ouyr bored or 12 and like color tiled thingies its a msut skip os.