There’s a growing concern that Redmond-based Microsoft is not achieving the kind of orders it had initially hoped or expected of its Surface RT, and it’s now looking like the company’s orders are petering out – as opposed to increasing – in the run-up to Christmas. CEO Steve Ballmer’s note of "modest" sales at launch has done very little to instill confidence recently, and to compound the situation, upstream supply chain sources have revealed the software maker has reduced orders of the Surface RT by half.
If true, the news teeters dangerously close to catastrophic, and although nobody presumed the Surface would outsell the big-name devices this Fall, Microsoft will be alarmed by what looks to have been an unexpectedly slow start. After all, if the biggest name in the company uses the word "modest" to describe sales of a very, very important product, it’s more than likely the sales have been nearer the "poor" end of the spectrum.
The Surface, which packs in a 10.6-inch touch display, has quite a few things going for it. Aesthetically, you couldn’t say it’s any less beautiful than the market-leading iPad from Apple, and if you like 16:9 displays, sharp edges, and connecting various USB peripherals, the new, Windows RT-packing tablet is a great option.
However, it’s those two hard-hitting, inconspicuously significant letters – "RT" – that I think go some way to explaining the mediocrity in sales of the Surface hitherto. While the Surface Pro – scheduled to release in January – will run on Intel processors and a full version of Windows 8, the RT iteration runs on an ARM-based NVIDIA Tegra quad-core processor. Clocked at 1.3GHz, it’s not a bad little runner, but it lacks one key skill – the ability to run legacy apps.
So, considering how Surface Pro delivers a full-blown desktop experience, it’s a good idea to churn out a few extra bucks and go with the Surface Pro instead. Priced at $899 and $999 for the 64GB and 128GB models respectively, it’s not cheap, but if you take into account how much it has to offer along with portability, then it’s definitely the go-to solution for your desktop replacement needs.
Perhaps not such a big deal to some, the lack of support for those apps PC users have come to rely on provides the Surface RT (and Windows RT) with a major setback. The fact that the Surface has been marketed as a hybrid is somewhat misleading to some, because save for the bundled, unfinished Office 2013, there’s really not a great deal to get excited about if you’re looking to use the Surface RT as some kind of notebook replacement – Touch / Type Cover or not.
Time will tell as to whether the Surface RT does have a market, but with little interest thus far, and the prospect of rich app support not looking too promising, the immediate future of the one-month-old device does look rather bleak.
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