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Handhelds Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Struggles to Ship A Million Units 375

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tim-cook-hexed-ballmer dept.
zacharye writes "While some see potential in Microsoft's Surface tablet, most industry watchers appear to have written off the device at this point. Orders were reportedly cut in half following a slow launch, and Microsoft's debut slate has been hammered time and time again by reviewers and analysts. The latest to pile on is Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton, which estimates that when all is said and done, Microsoft will have sold fewer than 1 million Surface tablets in the slate's debut quarter." Still better than 25,000.
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Microsoft Surface Struggles to Ship A Million Units

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:45PM (#42193601)

    With the surface pro's battery life at an estimated 4 hours. We can expect that to fail as well.

  • The actual reason (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:49PM (#42193655)
    I think the actual biggest reason for this is people who wanted a tablet already got a different product from Samsung or Motorola or Apple and they're not going to spend all that money again just to switch. MS came into the game WAY too late.
    Also we're at the verge of a netbook-caliber tablet crash where everyone realizes they all suck and stop buying them. They're too fragile, they don't have a DVD drive, they're harder to type on, the screen is tiny, they get dirty with fingerprints, they don't run 99% of software ever written, everything they do on it is designed to cost money, the browsers don't display pages correctly, the battery life is a lie, most don't have USB flash drive capabilities, they don't work with the majority of printers, and it's difficult to do meaningful work on them in any way shape or form. That's actually slightly more cons than netbooks and they went from boom to flop in approximately 2 years.
  • Film at 11 ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:49PM (#42193663) Homepage

    Microsoft has no clue what users actually want, film at 11.

    When is Microsoft going to learn to make a truly consumer-oriented device other than the XBox? Not with support for Office (that takes up most of your space apparently), not with support for Outlook, but to do the things people are using other tablets for.

    Every time they release a product, the marketing is so heavily geared to Office/Outlook/Exchange I have to wonder if Microsoft is aware of the fact that loads of people use computers for things that don't involve their business applications.

    If your marketing is focused on how I can do spreadsheets and connect to my corporate Exchange server, then you have no idea of what it is I'd be looking to use this kind of device for. Because I don't want either of those features.

    It just always seems Microsoft is so focused on their business tools, that the result is too much focus on that. And it always seems like they launch a product after someone else has been successful with it, and then miss some of the attributes of the other product which make it successful in the first place.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:55PM (#42193747) Homepage Journal

    I think the actual biggest reason for this is people who wanted a tablet already got a different product from Samsung or Motorola or Apple and they're not going to spend all that money again just to switch. MS came into the game WAY too late.

    Also we're at the verge of a netbook-caliber tablet crash where everyone realizes they all suck and stop buying them. They're too fragile, they don't have a DVD drive, they're harder to type on, the screen is tiny, they get dirty with fingerprints, they don't run 99% of software ever written, everything they do on it is designed to cost money, the browsers don't display pages correctly, the battery life is a lie, most don't have USB flash drive capabilities, they don't work with the majority of printers, and it's difficult to do meaningful work on them in any way shape or form. That's actually slightly more cons than netbooks and they went from boom to flop in approximately 2 years.

    Your post mostly makes sense (especially the frustration of being in an ecosystem where the tablet purchaser is merely a commodity whose eyeballs will be sold to the highest bidder)... what the fuck is a DVD drive? I remember old, slow, failure prone round plasticky things but the last time i had a need for one in ANY computing related task was probably more than 5 years ago... Are you talking about that?

  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:56PM (#42193755)

    The fact that after so many years of backwards-compatible Windows versions they launched their first tablet device with a desktop environment that wouldn't run anything other than Office was a huge "wtf" to me. So now in the first few months of it's life Microsoft have polluted the Surface brand as the little tablet that couldn't. I thought the Pro might still stand a chance in the face of this until I read the 64Gb edition would cost $900 and have a 4hr battery life. Ultrabooks, despite being slightly larger, seem to be much more capable for the same price. I don't know what Microsoft was thinking. They p'd off their hardware partners to launch this?

  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:02PM (#42193837) Homepage

    Funny, aside from your incorrect assessment about webpage rendering (at least on the tablets I have tried), I don't want any of those things on a tablet. That's why I have a laptop.

    When I'm taking transit (plane or bus) or sitting on the couch and I don't want to pull out my laptop, I don't see any problem with these genre of devices at all.

    Apparently you're not the target market and that is just fine.

  • Re:The Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NIK282000 (737852) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:09PM (#42193929) Homepage Journal

    I am one of the holdouts for the Pro but I did get my hands on the ARM version a few weeks ago at the only bloody MS Surface booth in Ontario. In the 5min I was holding it I managed to find everything I was looking for and didn't have any hiccups in responsiveness or performance. It is a shame that they are so late to the game but I don't think windows vista/7 would have worked as well in a tablet situation.
     
    /not a shill, I just like MS hardware

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:12PM (#42193965) Homepage

    They're too fragile, they don't have a DVD drive, they're harder to type on, the screen is tiny, they get dirty with fingerprints, they don't run 99% of software ever written, everything they do on it is designed to cost money, the browsers don't display pages correctly, the battery life is a lie, most don't have USB flash drive capabilities, they don't work with the majority of printers, and it's difficult to do meaningful work on them in any way shape or form.

    I think you're looking at this through the lens of being focused on doing 'meaningful' work -- the vast majority of people using tablets are using them for passive entertainment and the like.

    I type a few emails on my tablet, not extensive word processing, spreadsheets, or writing code. I watch digital copies of movies that I get when I buy the Blu Ray. I don't care about 99% of the software ever written. I've never had to spend money on stuff, I just don't bother. I easily get my 10 hours of battery life as advertised. And I've never found myself needing either a USB flash drive or to print from it. These just aren't things I do with that device -- I have access to lots of other computers for that stuff.

    It's a device I'm more likely to use from an easy chair, the sofa, a lawn chair, an airplane, or occasionally even a hammock. It's entertainment, with some decent connectivity for when I'm on the road. it's en eBook reader, a video game, and can get me some useful information if I can get to wifi, which is pretty easy. And, I can use Google Voice to call the wife instead of paying hotel rates for long distance. It also gets used for those quick google searches in the living room you'd otherwise not bother getting up to do.

    I would argue that you can basically say smart phones are essentially useless for all of the identical reasons you list (and I'd be just as wrong as you), and I bet you have a smart phone. They have all of the same limitations you cite, and yet people have smart phones everywhere you look. I refuse to pay the data plan for a smart phone, so a tablet with wifi is a better fit for me. A smart phone and a tablet are essentially the same thing with a slightly different size.

    There is no universal way to decide the utility of a device, and different people do different things. It may be true that a tablet doesn't cover your needs, but you need to understand that your needs are probably not typical.

    I've had a tablet for about 2.5 years now, and I get a lot of use out of it. I don't use it to do my job or any serious work, but for all of those other little things, it's a convenient device with a more suitable form factor.

    The vast majority of people when using computers much of the time are NOT doing 'meaningful' work -- they're surfing the web, watching You Tube videos, sending a few emails, and playing games.

    Seriously, stop making categorical statements as if they were facts instead of just your opinion .. because I can say quite firmly that for me, my tablet doesn't suck, and was money well spent on a device I actually use. Just as I'm sure you can equally say that, for you, it's not a device you'd find a good fit for your needs. Neither is anything other than a subjective evaluation.

    I've taken my iPad on about 12 trips by now, and about 8-10 of those I also had my laptop. My laptop sits in the bag in case I need access to something, and has been used exactly once while on the road over the last two years. But my iPad sees 2-4 hours/day of use when I travel.

    So, maybe you need to recognize the fact that for many of the people who have bought tablets, it is a better fit than a netbook or a full laptop would be.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:12PM (#42193971)

    I think you're impressively wrong:

    1- Netbooks were made to stagnate by Intel and MS. Buyers never had any reason to upgrade, or rather, update, so once everyone vaguely interested got one, the market just died. I'm still happily using my Compaq Mini from 3-4 yrs ago, what's on sale right now isn't significantly better. Now, if I could get more RAM, a bigger screen, an i3... I'd probably upgrade. But MS and Intel have decided I shouldn't be able to.

    2- On the contrary, tablets are evolving incredibly fast. I'm on my 4th tablet in 2 years, and actually just sold it to upgrade. And I think I'll stay on the upgrade treadmill for a while, which, coincidentally, let's my "handee-downs" get on it, too.

    3- What matters is not that 99.999% of software ever written doesn't run: it's that 90% of the software you actually need does. I can do emails, RSS/Greader, Web, ebooks, video, music, kill-the-time games, even some Google Docs in a pinch. Sure, everyone is missing some apps. But not that many.

    4- You can get a keyboard, a mouse, SD cards and even USB sticks in most cases. What's your gripe ?

  • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:15PM (#42194009) Homepage

    Who cares?

    The only review that matters in the end is what the market thinks. The market doesn't seem to be buying. Saying "the professional reviewers liked it!" is loser talk.

  • by fons (190526) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:18PM (#42194055) Homepage

    I agree. Tablets fit with the changed computer behaviour.

    Computers and laptops are made for a desk and for work. But when I come home from work, i don't want to work anymore. I want to use my computer as entertainment (facebook, newssites, youtube, ...). Also, I don't want to sit at a desk but comfortably on a couch.

    My laptop/netbook is not ergonomic to use on the couch, and my phone is too small. So i use a tablet.

    Tablets are here to stay. And they will become the remote (or hub or whatever) for your tv.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:19PM (#42194067) Homepage

    Realistically, anybody in the tablet market for something by Samsung or most of the other Android makers isn't in the market for a Surface due to price. The Surface is priced at the top of the market and totally ignores the rest of it. Most Android tablets are not priced at the top of the market.

    You can get a Nexus 7 for what, half of what a Surface RT costs? Realistically the target Surface market in terms of pricing is also the target iPad market, and taking on the iPad with a product tied in consumers minds to the less than stellar reviews of Windows 8 isn't exactly an easy task. It's no wonder they're getting smoked.

  • Re:FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:26PM (#42194173) Journal

    That's what they did with the Xbox division nearly a decade ago, and the division is still years from paying back the investment.

    Even Microsoft can't afford to float vast sums of money to buy market share forever, and what's more I doubt the investors will tolerate pissing billions away.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:37PM (#42194315)

    The bigger problem with pro is that it's 900 fucking dollars to start with!

  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:38PM (#42194339)

    With the surface pro's battery life at an estimated 4 hours. We can expect that to fail as well.

    Well TFA (regardless of how badly the summary is written) IS about Surface (both models). So I'm a bit confused about the meaning of "fail as well".

    The Surface tablet that is out is the RT version, The one that is coming is the full x86 compatible version.

    Quoting TFA:

    The Surface device currently on the market runs Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed for devices powered by ARM architecture, which dominates the mobility segment. While Windows RT looks exactly like Windows 8, it can’t run Windows programs built for x86 processors, limiting users to what they can download from the built-in Windows Store app hub.

    And there is the problem. The Windows Store has very little to offer for the ARM version, and the market is small enough that there will be trouble attracting developers for several years.

    Meanwhile the X86 version (Surface Pro) is going to priced fairly high, BUT has the attraction of running just about any software that will run on Windows 8 Desktop (which is just about any existing Windows packages). So in, IMHO, that tablet, the Surface Pro, will sell quite well, especially in the corporate world. I wouldn't count Microsoft out just yet.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:40PM (#42194349)

    Anyone looking at Microsoft mobile solutions as a consumer product is looking at them wrong. These toys are meant to keep Microsoft relevant in the mobile business space. Write once, run Microsoft. Businesses don't need to hire ancillary dev teams to write their ancillary mobile apps they can utilize in-house talent and existing code bases. Even LOBs are going to be able to spill over into the mobile space since they won't be shackled to orange shield implementations that scare the CSOs. If businesses adopt Microsoft mobiles the hope is that consumers--used to their work devices--will find the familiarity attractive enough to stick with the brand.

    Time will tell if the strategy pays off. The ability to use C#/XAML and avoid the costs and penalties of HTML5/JavaScript is a very attractive proposition for businesses.

  • Re:Told (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:41PM (#42194371)

    for a site with highly libertarian users who are all about personal privacy and internet freedom, it's weird how often you see slashdotters ripping on anonymous users *only* because they're posting anonymously.

    - ac, lol

  • by SQLGuru (980662) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:45PM (#42194443) Journal

    Many here would say BitTorrent. Some here will say "digital copy". And a few others will say "my server does that for me".

    I don't need an optical drive on ALL of my machines....just one of them.....or an external drive that can be moved around as needed. (The Surface supports regular USB devices -- just like your laptop.)

  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:20PM (#42194901)

    That only works if you write in specific languages using specific compilers.
    There is a boat load of software out there that does not conform, and many compilers don't have runtimes for ARM.
    Further, the API calls are NOT all the same.

    So don't believe all the advertising mumbo-jumbo.

  • That isn't sarcasm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Groo Wanderer (180806) <charlieNO@SPAMsemiaccurate.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:28PM (#42194973) Homepage

    You have obviously not used Windows lately, or any other Microsoft product if you say such abjectly ignorant things. You may laugh, but those of us who have to support Microsoft products know the truth, and how wrong you are. Microsoft-level quality products are indeed expensive, and for good reason too, do you have any idea how much it costs to support this crap? How hard it is to keep up and running? Clean it up after the latest security breach? Preventing breaches is a fools errand, give it up.

    All this costs money, lots and lots of money. Initial purchase price may be low compared to everything but FOSS, but that is only the beginning. If you calculate TCO, you will see exactly how expensive this poorly coded pile of outdated security holes really is. It ain't cheap.

          -Charlie

    [Yes, this may look like sarcasm, but sadly it is not]

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:43PM (#42195109) Journal

    They ask me for iPad versions of everything (for free, mind you).

    Exactly. Not tablet versions, but iPad versions. Not versions to run an an overpriced tablet with poor battery life, but versions to run on the tablets they probably already own (iPad)

    People in the corporate world are moving to tablets, and they want to take their familiar CRM, manufacturing, Patient Care, scheduling, etc with them.

    Most of those applications are now accessed through a browser, or apps that already exist in the IOS/Android world so Surface Pro has nothing extra to offer over any other type of tablet.

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:17PM (#42195415) Homepage Journal

    If they buy two of the Surface Pros then they will even have enough battery life for a standard workday (barely). That's bound to be good for Surface sales.

    The reason that people are asking for iPad versions of software is that they have reached the tipping point where they use their iPad more than any other device. Instead of using the iPad for just a few things they now use it for *most* things, and they really want to be rid of Windows forever. A tablet version of Windows doesn't really help them, especially a tablet version of Windows that is missing most of the new tablet applications that they actually use now.

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:35PM (#42195617)

    That's not the party line, citizen.

    Actually; it seems to be pretty much the party line. Every time we get any discussion of the various Windows 8 components someone pipes up and says "have you tried it", "if you saw the real thing" etc. etc. Every analyst house has completely overestimated the success of Windows phone 7 and Windows 8 in every way. In the same time when Tommi Ahonen was able to give accurate Windows Phone market share forecasts [blogs.com]. Have a look at a almost any review; They say "it's great but the price is too high"

    Microsoft should have charged $300, not $600 for the Surface (businessinsider.com)

    "The problem is these things are priced way too high. Look at the history of tablet products priced above the iPad. Not pretty," he said today in a phone interview. (IDC)

    "Microsoft needs hack a third off Surface RT prices and widen distribution to give the fondleslab a fighting chance to compete," [Forbes]

    Look at the difference between an Android tablet priced for $300 and an Android for $600. One of them is a great value device with real compromises to bring it down to price and the other is a really great no questions device. You can't write a review which says "it's great but it's only worth half it's price". What you mean is "it's crap for the price and they should cut the price to a level where it's worth the money". The entire media is running scared of naming the pile of garbage that is Surface. Have a look at how carefully they never criticize the low resolution of surface; They always prefix with some Microsoft marketing statement; for example extreme tech writes:

    Microsoft was at pains to point out that the Surface RT's low resolution (1366×768) doesn't necessarily mean

    etc. etc.

    Try to find one of the mainstream reviews which mentions that the surfaces resolution, at 148 PPI, is worse than almost any modern tablet. As a point of reference; the iPad has 264 PPI, the Nexus 7 has 216 PPI and the iPad mini has 163 PPI. The Google Nexus 10 with a 300 PPI screen is a completely different league. With a screen like that the correct price for a Surface is in fact around $250. You would have to go back to the very original iPad screen to find an Apple product with a lower resolution screen. The same thing repeats with mention of the terrible user interface experience - always gently skipped over or we are told "you can get used to it fast". Again with the app store, almost every review completely ignores the quality of the apps ported from iOS.

    Have a look on any site with "consumer reviews". You will probably find more positive reviews than there are people outside Microsoft with tablets, and any review which reads as if someone actually used the product will be voted down out of visibility.

    I think that the great thing is that consumers have finally realised that there is a Microsoft party line; have realised that that line is everywhere and that they are choosing to ignore it.

  • by rezalas (1227518) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:38PM (#42195657)
    I don't believe they are selling poorly. They've sold around 1 million units, and they've only been out for around 1 month. It sounds great to say "less than 1 million units in a quarter!" but the truth is they haven't even been out for a quarter, not even half a quarter. But lucky for slashdot plenty of people are around to make accusations based on incomplete information and an extreme bias against a company that actually produces something (unlike most of the posters).
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:52PM (#42195899) Journal
    Apparently they have the monopoly on stuff we don't want any more.
  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:51PM (#42197659)

    Poorly coded crap? Most code off GitHub beats WCF and other Microsoft-branded abominations like it any day.

    Four or five years ago I would have agreed with you, but Microsoft turned a corner after Vista, Win 7 is hands down the best end-user desktop operating system I have ever used, and I know dozens of professional geeks who agree.

    That said, I'm glad that there's so much competition right now, it forces everyone to improve. When I look at operating systems and the commercial market I'm always trying to think five to ten years down the road. Not at what comes next, but what comes after that. Given the rate of change in OSX, IOS, Win7, Win8, Gnome (in all its versions and varants) and KDE (Plasma looks sexy...) and the metoric rise of handheld and tablet computing I'm actually pretty excited about what computers will look like in five to ten years.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:51PM (#42200309) Journal

    Look, I see this comment a lot and I'll agree that professionally configured and lovingly tweaked, Windows 7 or 8 - or even Vista SP2 approaches a usable condition. I figure the people who post this have no idea what IT pros have to go through to give them that usable Windows experience. Or they're IT guys who do this all the time and know the easiest ways - starting from the latest Microsoft official .iso and have the OEM drivers handy, maybe even slipstreamed into their install media. If that's not you, go visit the guys who make your golden image. Bring them some Starbucks cards and chat them up about what it takes. It ain't easy and it ain't quick.

    Now buy a Windows 7 or Windows 8 laptop from a major OEM at a department store, or a consumer or business laptop from the major OEM direct. Take it out of the box and try and get it into that usable condition pretending that you're an "average" non-IT person. You've got a couple hours of OOBE before you, and then a couple more of crudware removal. Don't forget to register and activate! Critical early task: get your armor up. You'll want Microsoft Security Essentials for free, probably. But you don't know that, and the laptop came with this antimalware suite that's a 60 day trial that wants your credit card. Remember that you're an IT novice fraught with fear that any wrong click is going to ruin a high-value purchase and cost you insane fees for repair - and many of the necessary steps you not only don't know how to do: there is no clue anywhere about what the right steps are. You literally do not know that having both McAfee and Norton is bad, let alone that you don't need either one. You don't know what is and what isn't an essential system component. You can Google it, but the malware freaks have got that base covered and you don't know who to trust.

    If you're on dialup you can forget ever coming current because you've got about a gig of patches to pull - but on broadband figure an hour and three reboots for Windows 7. Some of the Windows patches may break the OEM drivers, so you'll have to go to the vendor's website to get those back. Uninstall Skype, which now comes as an update whether you want it or not. Now de-Bing and un-msn the browser, remove the toolbars, lock down the extensions, and finally unpin all the IE links so you don't accidently run IE and install a real browser as the default and configure that. Now you're finally ready to migrate your old settings, files, data and metadata - if you can. There's an "Easy Transfer" app. Good luck with that. A quick jaunt to the printer manufacturer's website for some printer drivers - and maybe scanner or whatever else too, and you've successfully configured the OS. This would be a good time to back up... Call it a day, because tomorrow's a biggie.

    Day two you can attack that stack of disks you've paid thousands of dollars for over the last ten years, and discover which of them no longer run in this fun new world - and how - but only if you've bought the kind of laptop that still has a DVD drive even. And update all of them. And then update Windows again for the app-specific patches. This is not a task for a non-IT person.

    Compare that with preparing an iPad or Android tablet for use: Open box. Remove tablet. Push button. Log in. Choose the apps you want in the app store from the ones you've already bought, and maybe some new ones. You're done.

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