Steve Ballmer: first Surface sales are "modest"; hypes Windows 8 Pro version

When Microsoft started taking pre-orders of its new Windows RT-based Surface tablet in late October, it appeared that sales of the device were pretty high, thanks to high back order numbers. Since then, the Microsoft Store online site apparently has enough Surface tablets for anyone that wants one, at least in the US.

Microsoft has yet to reveal any official sales numbers of the Surface tablet, and this weekend, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tried to down play sales of the Windows RT version. In an online extract from an interview he gave to the French newspaper LeParisien. he said simply that sales of the Surface so far have been "modest."

Oddly, Ballmer also hyped up the upcoming launch of the Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface, saying that it will be "unique", and added that it will be "equipped with a new Intel processor with a higher screen resolution." That would seem to be an indication that Microsoft knows some people, while they like the idea of the Surface tablet itself, may be waiting to buy the Windows 8 Pro version. It's scheduled to be launched sometime in early 2013.

Via: PocketNow.com
Source:LeParisien.fr | Image via LeParisien.fr

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From my review reading I see the Microsoft Surface with RT as overall disappointing. Its not a good lap top and its not a good tablet. LIke many reviewers I am left wondering where it fits and why someone really needs this device over a different tablet or over a laptop. What does the Surface RT do really well that you cant get elsewhere?

Now consider the price of the Surface RT and the various issues like the cover fraying, the poor sound quality, the mediocre screen, the random sound muting and more.

I dont get why the Surface RT exists and I dont get why anyone NEEDS one because it does nothing very well.

There are rumors going around that Intel will make a special edition of the Ivy Bridge processor with a TDP of 10 Watts some time in January. Ballmer's quote of "equipped with a new Intel processor" sounds like it could be it. That means instead of five hours of battery performance we can be looking at a solid seven.

When I was at Best Buy to buy an iPad 4 I heard a sales associate recommend the iPad over any Windows Tablet to a family shopping for there first tablet. Regardless of all the hype about these things on this website, the Windows 8 tablet will not sell well to the "normal" shopper looking for a tablet. At my daughters school, every classroom has 15 of the iPad 3's. Microsoft has an uphill battle.

Wouldn't be surprised if RT numbers don't improve much, but by next year if prices relax to around $300 it could have a shot. RT has no appeal whatsoever to me or anyone I know at current prices but Pro could be worth the premium if they do it right.

Whenever Ballmer refers to Windows Phones sales figures he uses "low" , if he indeed says modest then I believe this to be slightly better than windows phone which ins't exactly bad for a first generation tablet.

derekaw said,
It looks like the MS Surface RT is just another tablet. It is certainly no iPad killer.

i'll give you two features that will make you eat your words.

1.real microsoft office

2.flash

and it isnt just another tablet. windows 8 is selling better than 7,which means with more users,more developers which = more and better apps. Theres probably north of 15k apps so far,and real game engines,not those crappy mobile versions like to ipad,are already ported to winrt,so theres alot of good stuff in development right now that blows anything else out there.

vcfan said,

i'll give you two features that will make you eat your words.

This should be good.

1.real microsoft office

Instead of a fake one? You mean the one that opens on the desktop and is slow, laggy and a pig to use with your finger? Typing on the smartcover that will give you RSI in no time. Not like Office is coming to iPad or Android though. Oh wait. It is.

2.flash

LOL really? Is that all you got? ... it has flash. This isn't 2006.

Shame it hasn't the horsepower to use it.

vcfan said,

1.real microsoft office
2.flash

1. Microsoft is supposedly working on Office for Android and iOS. If released, there goes that right out the window. Throw on top of that, Office for RT and you have a non-issue right there.

2. Flash? Android is dropping flash, iOS never had flash. Selling like hot-cakes. Flash is dead or dying.

Personally... I'll try not to put anything adobe on Surface Pro (if i actually end up getting one), just to avoid all the attack holes Adobe can't seem to leave home without.

Now... the reason that 8 Pro will do good is x86/x64 apps. Games, business apps, productivity apps, etc... until they get ported to ARM (and some old apps can't/won't get ported), the only option on a new computer to use them will be 8 Pro.

There is no Outlook on RT. So it kills it as a business tablet. I spend 20% of my day working in Outlook. I've got RT and I've absolutely no use for it as far as work related activities are concerned. I'll be giving my RT away...

vcfan said,

i'll give you two features that will make you eat your words.

1.real microsoft office

2.flash

and it isnt just another tablet. windows 8 is selling better than 7,which means with more users,more developers which = more and better apps. Theres probably north of 15k apps so far,and real game engines,not those crappy mobile versions like to ipad,are already ported to winrt,so theres alot of good stuff in development right now that blows anything else out there.

derekaw said,
It's certainly no iPad killer.
No one ever said it had to be, except you iDiots who think every tablet has to be an iPad Killer. Hey Windows didn't kill off the Mac, CD's didn't kill over VCR's or Cassette players either, streaming movies haven't killed off movie houses or BlockBuster yet. Books on Kindle haven't killed paperbacks yet.

Microsoft isn't trying ot kill Apple. If they were they could have in 1997 by just pulling Office from the Mac. Since evry other dev was leaving Apple, if the world's biggest software giant had also done so, Apple would have died as every other dev would have seen that as a sign to definitely jump ship.

The Surface RT like the iPad is a toy for gaming and media consumption. The Pro however is a different beast. It has full Windows 8 that runs x86 apps and Apple can't compete against that.

While Ballmer is saying modest, the sales are in fact high. They ran out of all models including the ones with the keyboard. Even tho the iPad is made in chia, they don't even want the POS. even tho a few losers have bought some, they aren't buying many. the iPad 4 and Mini won't be a total sals flop, but you can expect that sales wont even be near the same as they were for the iPad 3G. In fact it will take the sales numbers of both the iPad 4 and Mini to come near the 3. Grow up!

'Grow up' seems to be the current meme around here.

Since the Surface RT was announced many people here on Neowin said that it would be an 'iPad Killer', my comment is in response to those comments.

Your post was quite a rant.

thealexweb said,
We are still waiting on any official Windows Phone numbers, didn't it come out in 2009 and we still haven't had any.

Andy Lees the former windows phone boss gave a figure.

To be honest I'm not really surprised. Personally I think the desktop mode shouldn't be available at all on RT

I can't believe he really said that. This could be a lost in translation thing.

The CEO saying sales are modest translates to sales being disappointing in unbiased discussion. Not that I'd be surprised, but I thought they were betting the company on these things.

I spent two hours with a Surface RT in my local Microsoft store - I thought it was a compelling device. The no-go decision was based on the poor text rendering and the desktop mode that will never get third party desktop apps. The desktop is right there! It's really depressing when you realize you can't run your most used apps there.

It's true that Surface pro will fix both counts!

a1ien said,
I can't believe he really said that. This could be a lost in translation thing.

The CEO saying sales are modest translates to sales being disappointing in unbiased discussion. Not that I'd be surprised, but I thought they were betting the company on these things.

I spent two hours with a Surface RT in my local Microsoft store - I thought it was a compelling device. The no-go decision was based on the poor text rendering and the desktop mode that will never get third party desktop apps. The desktop is right there! It's really depressing when you realize you can't run your most used apps there.

It's true that Surface pro will fix both counts!

They never said they were betting the company on Surface, they have said the opposite, that they are not trying to compete with their partners (http://www.neowin.net/news/ste...ompete-with-other-pc-makers).

As for sales being modest, it depends on what Ballmer's definition of "modest" is. Remember, they are used to selling hundreds of millions of products such as Windows and Office. If they sold 5 million Surfaces, compared to 670 million copies of Win7, those are very modest sales. The original iPad sold 300,000 on the first day (despite predictions of millions being sold). It takes a little while to build momentum for any product. And if Ballmer not giving exact numbers is an indication of poor sales, as some have suggested, then Apple's refusal to give numbers of the iPad 4/mini (instead, they just lumped numbers together) then it must mean that the new ipads are selling poorly.

a1ien said,
I can't believe he really said that. This could be a lost in translation thing.

The CEO saying sales are modest translates to sales being disappointing in unbiased discussion. Not that I'd be surprised, but I thought they were betting the company on these things.

I spent two hours with a Surface RT in my local Microsoft store - I thought it was a compelling device. The no-go decision was based on the poor text rendering and the desktop mode that will never get third party desktop apps. The desktop is right there! It's really depressing when you realize you can't run your most used apps there.

It's true that Surface pro will fix both counts!

He's probably just "avoiding the question". A friend of mine knows someone at USPS that said that the Surface was the most shipping and hottest item right now.

a1ien said,
I can't believe he really said that. This could be a lost in translation thing.

The CEO saying sales are modest translates to sales being disappointing in unbiased discussion. Not that I'd be surprised, but I thought they were betting the company on these things.

I spent two hours with a Surface RT in my local Microsoft store - I thought it was a compelling device. The no-go decision was based on the poor text rendering and the desktop mode that will never get third party desktop apps. The desktop is right there! It's really depressing when you realize you can't run your most used apps there.

It's true that Surface pro will fix both counts!


When he talks about windows phones figures he says they are "low" , he does not try to make it look good , he normally doesn't mince words so I believe this to be better than windows phones which isn't exactly bad. Asus has been selling 700k nexus 7 tablets a month and they are pretty happy with it.

I imagine they didn't stockpile a lot of units so while it sold out and seems popular, I doubt they have sales that set the world on fire. Give it a couple of months and see what the numbers are.

It will be interesting to see if they have yearly revisions of hardware and continue to sell them.

Well, the Surface RT is a budget tablet at a premium price - it was unlikely to set the world on fire. The Surface Pro will do well with those wanting a tablet that can handle desktop apps - as it's essentially a stylish laptop - but it won't compete with tablets like the Nexus 10 or iPad Retina.

Microsoft was never trying to compete seriously in the market place, it just wanted to make sure people associate Windows 8 with tablets.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Well, the Surface RT is a budget tablet at a premium price - it was unlikely to set the world on fire. The Surface Pro will do well with those wanting a tablet that can handle desktop apps - as it's essentially a stylish laptop - but it won't compete with tablets like the Nexus 10 or iPad Retina.

Microsoft was never trying to compete seriously in the market place, it just wanted to make sure people associate Windows 8 with tablets.

Curious, which aspect of the Surface is 'budget'

Chicane-UK said,

Yes - because iPads are regularly cited as being of poor quality / badly built. Sigh.

The majority of all iPads I have seen dropped from 3 feet or over end up with cracked screens.

Chicane-UK said,

Yes - because iPads are regularly cited as being of poor quality / badly built. Sigh.

Way to completely miss the point... went right over your head.

anonymf said,
Is "modest" a result of English-to-French-to-English translation?

The original article says "[Ballmer] confesses that the sales are starting 'modestly' [...]".

Skin said,
yup, waiting till the Pro version.

Don't buy it the moment it will be released. Wait a week or two, they will be giving it for free with a 1,5 year car-insurance.

fehu said,
Acer will be happy

If I was Acer I would not bother with RT, not right now, wait a year and see what market exists for RT, if any.