Microsoft finally reveals terrible Surface RT tablet sales

surface work rt

It’s no mystery that Windows RT is the red-headed stepchild at Microsoft. Their plan to create a cheaper, slimmer, version of Windows 8 has not panned out. The best device with Windows RT is the original Surface tablet, and now we’re finding out even that hasn’t sold well.┬áIn fact, sales have been abysmal at best.

Microsoft revealed that they took an enormous $900M hit on Surface RT tablets. Usually a company won’t even reveal numbers when a device sells poorly, but Surface RT sold so terribly that Microsoft had to reveal numbers for investors. There are several reasons we can look at for why sales have been so bad.

Branding + Windows RT

Microsoft Surface is a pretty awesome name, but what comes next is what has confused consumers: “…with Windows RT.” Since Windows RT and Windows 8 have the same exact Start Screen they look identical in ads. Many people bought Surface RT tablets expecting them to be able to do all the things they are used to doing in Windows. When they get the tablet home they are disappointed when they can’t.


Another thing that hurt the Surface RT was pricing. Before it was released there were rumors it could hit the $200 price point. Those rumors ended up being just $300 off. That’s a lot to shell out for a device that doesn’t have nearly as many apps as the similarly priced iPad. Plus, if you add the cool keyboard covers the price goes even higher. It’s hard to sell someone on a Surface RT over the iPad just because you can run Office.

What could Microsoft have done differently to make the Surface RT a success? If you have a Surface RT do you still enjoy it?

  • yanivc

    The next logical step is to repackage it as a windows 8.1 device at a $300 price point.
    If acer can do it with the “W’ then so can MS.

  • Ryan Lounsbury

    I picked up the Surface RT when the price dropped this weekend. I’m quite happy with the device; so much so that I ditched my Nexus 7. It’s an idea form-factor for my purposes with such a tablet. Of course, I come into this purchase with no delusion that it can do what Windows 8.1/Surface Pro can do.

    As a media consumption, web/email, light office work/note taking the device works wonderfully. The only place it has really fallen down performance wise is when I have too many apps running in the background. Otherwise, I’ve had little trouble with it. As the Windows Store ecosystem evolves this device will have a better value proposition.

  • Boas Andreasen

    I bought it about 2 months ago, and i still use it daily. Great tablet.

  • I imagine half the problem was openly saying “this one runs a watered down version of the OS, and in a few months there will be a better one” because no matter how you slice it, or how well RT meets the daily needs, few people like the idea of buying an inferior product. Then the Pro releases, but doesn’t quite fit the bill most people are looking for, so they end up with neither. Windows RT needs to die and they need to focus just on the full Windows 8 experience.

  • GogoGodzilla

    Microsoft had two issues in the Surface RT.
    1. Tegra 3 was a terrible idea
    2. That price was ridiculous for a Tegra 3 device.

  • fredphoesh

    Lovely device and all, but seriously, who the F would spend this kind of money on half baked windows OS. The idea of RT was a HUGE mistake. All their stuff should be the full Win8, not this retarded halfway thing.

  • Phillip

    I preordered one before launch and still use it daily. Last week, IE started crashing a lot. I need to figure out why. It’s the ONLY problem I’ve had.