Microsoft's holiday goal: Sell 16 million Windows tablets

According to a new report, Microsoft is aiming to sell 16 million Windows tablets this holiday season. Maybe its alleged $405 million retail Windows marketing budget for FY'14 will help.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

One of Microsoft's biggest retail goals for holiday 2014 is to sell 16 million Windows tablets, according to alleged Microsoft strategy documents obtained by Paul Thurrott, editor of the Windows SuperSite.


To achieve this goal, the Softies are going to be increasing retail spending, according to Thurrott's report. Last fiscal year (ending June 30, 2013), Microsoft spent $241 million on its retail Windows efforts. This year, that amount will jump to $405 million, according to Thurrott's information. Of that $405 million, $131 million will be spent on incentives and offers, with the remaining $274 million going toward direct marketing and operating expenses.

Microsoft also is going to try to move the public perception meter about Windows devices. The idea is to make the Windows experience a "loved part of people's lives," not just something functional and utilitarian. Yes, this is all part of Microsoft's push to increase its appeal to consumers, since they've already got many business users sewn up.

I'm assuming Windows tablets here means not only Surfaces but also Windows tablets from other vendors. I'm not sure what Microsoft's desired mix might look like here.

Microsoft has not released publicly the number of Surface sales it has made to date. Surface revenues (which are reported into Windows client) for Microsoft's most recent quarter were $400 million. Microsoft officials said they sold double the number of Surfaces this quarter that they did in the previous calendar quarter. (Note: We don't know what either of those numbers are.) Surface RT sales were better than anticipated, officials said, while some potential Surface Pro customers held off, waiting for the Surface Pro 2.

So is 16 million a lot of tablets? A very modest goal? Again, I'm not entirely sure. Gartner recently estimated that 184 million tablets will be sold worldwide by all vendors in calendar 2013.

One way Microsoft can sell more Windows tablets is to hurry up and get those promised Microsoft stores inside Best Buy up and running. I stopped by a couple of New York City's biggest Best Buy retail stores this week. The situation is not pretty. There's still nowhere for those interested in Windows PCs and tablets and the new Surfaces to go to do side-by-side comparisons.

The only Microsoft brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan remains a very small kiosk in the Time Warner Center mall. Here's hoping for some new/more Microsoft holiday pop-ups and/or specialty stores in the not-too-distant future.

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