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

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.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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 The buzz doesn't seem to be there, and instead it's been replaced by confusion over pricing, hardware requirements, and the whole issue of touch.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.

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