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Surface RT Price Hacked Across The Board, Could Stay

By - Source: Computerworld | B 29 comments

Staples isn't the only retailer offering the Surface RT 32 GB model for $349.

Last week we reported that Staples would begin carrying Surface RT for $349 beginning Sunday, but the price hack was seen throughout a number of retailers, including Microsoft's own retail stores. Now it looks as if the price could be a permanent thing to flush out the remaining stock and make room for the second generation unit slated to arrive in fiscal 2014.

When Microsoft first introduced the ARM-based Surface RT, the 10.6 inch 32 GB model sold for $499 and the 64 GB model for $599. But they weren't easily accessible to the consumer: they either had to purchase the tablet online through Microsoft's online store, or locate an actual brick-and-mortar location. Sales weren't all that great, but improved somewhat when the tablet was finally allowed to be sold in normal retail outlets.

But sales still haven't reportedly been what Microsoft had hoped. To push even more units out the door, the Redmond company launched a promotion that offered a free cover for anyone who purchased a Surface RT unit before June 2013. The company also sold attendees of the TechEd North America and Microsoft Partner Conference the 64 GB version of Surface RT for a mere $100. Ouch.

To this day, Microsoft has not released the official sales figures of the Surface line. However the company has blamed sluggish Windows RT sales on customer confusion. And although the tablet does come packed with Office Home & Student 2013 RT, it still can't run their favorite desktop software offered on the consumer's x86-based Windows tower or laptop. That said, a price cut still may not move Surface RT units off store shelves.

Computerworld reports that Microsoft was able to drop the price of Surface RT due to a lack of OEM support. Currently most third-party partners have either flocked to only Windows 8 Pro, or publicly announced that their Windows RT plans are on a wait-and-see-how-it-does schedule. They have been keeping an eye on Surface RT which in turn hasn't reportedly produced impressive numbers.

Starting Sunday, the $349 32 GB version of Surface RT popped up at Staples, Best Buy and Microsoft. The discounted price tag is just above cost, as Microsoft spends around $284 on each unit. At this point, Microsoft may be relying on accessories like the keyboard cover to make a profit off the series. And as previously stated, it's likely flushing out hardware to make room for the second generation supposedly landing on store shelves in late fall.

According to the Staples ad and the online listing. the price hack will end on July 20, or while supplies last. The discounted Surface RT 32 GB model was also shown on the back of Best Buy's Sunday ad brochure, but didn't mention anything about a time limit. Even more, the website shows that it's also selling the 64 GB model for $449.99 – order either unit online and Best Buy pays the shipping (Staples has the 64 GB version too). Microsoft's own reduced Surface RT tablets can be purchased here.

Now that consumers are halfway through July, should they simply wait for the next generation before sinking money into Microsoft's Surface line? The next Surface RT model will reportedly sport Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 for the LTE models and Nvidia's Tegra 4 for the Wi-Fi only models. They'll also come with Windows RT 8.1 out of the box which is supposed to be a huge improvement over the previous Windows RT release.

When purchasing a new Surface RT tablet, keep in mind that the 32 GB model will only yield around 15 GB of free space to device owners. The 64 GB model offers a better user capacity with 45 GB of free space, possibly making it a better deal for those not wanting the keyboard cover accessory but willing to pay the extra bucks.

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  • 1 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:03 AM
    They had better keep it there... And make new Surface RT's cost that much. THEN put them on sales on top of that. The product simply isn't compelling to many people at its current iPad-esque price point. The thing isn't even a horrible product, it's just not a compelling product at that price.
  • 0 Hide
    Azn Cracker , July 15, 2013 9:05 AM
    100% its permanent. They were barely selling any when it was at $499. Maybe now sales will pick up.
  • -3 Hide
    LORD_ORION , July 15, 2013 9:05 AM
    More likely it's gone to be with Zune...

    Nobody likes Metro, and nobody is accepting a walled garden from MS. Especially developers who are abandoning ship.
  • 0 Hide
    eodeo , July 15, 2013 9:11 AM
    How is winRT better than random Chinese OS that looks like some other OS but has no actual software for itself? Why would anyone buy winRT? Can it do anything else than check email and listen to music?
  • 0 Hide
    BringMeAnother , July 15, 2013 9:11 AM
    They should indeed empty their inventory. Once the Bay Trail tablets arrive, the Surface RT will be even more irrelevant than it is. At least I'm hoping.
  • 0 Hide
    BringMeAnother , July 15, 2013 9:14 AM
    Quote:
    How is winRT better than random Chinese OS that looks like some other OS but has no actual software for itself? Why would anyone buy winRT? Can it do anything else than check email and listen to music?


    I'm curious to know, what random Chinese OS? Why they'd develop their own OS when Android is free?
  • 0 Hide
    BringMeAnother , July 15, 2013 9:15 AM
    Edit: Sorry, double posted for some reason.
  • -3 Hide
    LORD_ORION , July 15, 2013 9:15 AM
    eodeo, can it even check e-mail? It doesn't come or work with outlook. :p 

    Also triple post... this is one fine messaging system going here.
  • 0 Hide
    eodeo , July 15, 2013 9:19 AM
    Quote:
    I'm curious to know, what random Chinese OS? Why they'd develop their own OS when Android is free?


    I was referring to the Chinese iPhone copies. They look like an actual iPhone from both exterior and a quick glance at the UI/icons. They can place calls, listen to music... the basics- but have no actual external software to distinguish themselves from the slightly advanced calculator into an actual smartphone category.

    They were made with one thing in mind- to look like something they aren't.

    I'm pretty sure you can check emails with RT. I doubt their "smart" status, but not that MS implemented the crudest of the basics- like checking email. Also, I've never used outlook, and I dont plan to start now.
  • 2 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:21 AM
    eodeo,

    The main advantage to Surface RT tablets over Android/iOS is the regular Windows driver support - tens of thousands of USB devices, printers, etc - that Android and other types of machines likely won't have, along with Windows style multi monitor support, along with actual Office and not some half-arsed app. Personally, I feel that an RT device might actually outstrip Android and iOS devices as productivity devices at the same price point. At $350, I'd consider one over an iPad, though I still favour much cheaper Android tablets because of the cost advantage paired with the much more varied app store - clear advantage in everything but straight up productivity.

    That being said, if you compare an RT tablet to a full Windows tablet, it's still a clear second best for productivity, and if you want productivity, you generally don't want to compromise.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:30 AM
    eodeo,

    The main advantage to Surface RT tablets over Android/iOS is the regular Windows driver support - tens of thousands of USB devices, printers, etc - that Android and other types of machines likely won't have, along with Windows style multi monitor support, along with actual Office and not some half-arsed app. Personally, I feel that an RT device might actually outstrip Android and iOS devices as productivity devices at the same price point. At $350, I'd consider one over an iPad, though I still favour much cheaper Android tablets because of the cost advantage paired with the much more varied app store - clear advantage in everything but straight up productivity.

    That being said, if you compare an RT tablet to a full Windows tablet, it's still a clear second best for productivity, and if you want productivity, you generally don't want to compromise.
  • 1 Hide
    eodeo , July 15, 2013 9:32 AM
    Quote:
    if you compare an RT tablet to a full Windows tablet, it's still a clear second best for productivity, and if you want productivity, you generally don't want to compromise.


    Productivity? In what? Word processing? Powerpoint?

    I do 3d/vfx and when I'm on the go, its teamviewer, full win x64 or bust for my productivity. I guess if you have a burning need to write a document and feel like android/iOS version of the Office is lacking, RT could be better- even though I seriously doubt that.

    I just looked it up- there is a teamviewer for RT. I guess RT does have some software support, then. I'm still not sure why I'd prefer RT over android, even if it wasn't more expensive than say- nexus 7. Even if it was cheaper.

    --
    And drivers... for what? Its a tablet- you cant put in a geforce and be good to go with the driver support. iOS/android support most mice/keyboards. What else is there? Why would you connect an external web cam or printer(?) to a tablet? What good do thousands of drivers supported do? I guess I have a limited imagination since I cant think of a good reason...
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:47 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    if you compare an RT tablet to a full Windows tablet, it's still a clear second best for productivity, and if you want productivity, you generally don't want to compromise.


    Productivity? In what? Word processing? Powerpoint?

    I do 3d/vfx and when I'm on the go, its teamviewer, full win x64 or bust for my productivity. I guess if you have a burning need to write a document and feel like android/iOS version of the Office is lacking, RT could be better- even though I seriously doubt that.

    I just looked it up- there is a teamviewer for RT. I guess RT does have some software support, then. I'm still not sure why I'd prefer RT over android, even if it wasn't more expensive than say- nexus 7. Even if it was cheaper.


    Granted, there are different types of productivity, and the kinds of productivity I'm referring to are tied of MS office and similar software suites. Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. Productivity isn't solely tied to that though - being able to plug into various devices and have your device work is big. Printers, other monitors, and a whole host of USB devices - this is an area where a profile of Windows drivers has a pretty significant advantage over iOS and especially Android.

    Personally, I used an Android tablet (Le Pan II) for a notetaking, document writing and otherwise, device for almost two years, and prior to that an ipod touch for simple note taking. I've tried Officesuite Pro, Documents to Go, and Kingsoft office. All three were problematic copies of MS Office

    For me, productivity means hopping from classroom to classroom and having my device quickly and easily plug into a host of different projection devices and monitors and oftentimes printers, with a reliable word processing suite and presentation software. Multitasking is rather important too and, as of Android 4.0, I haven't found any way to get multiple things up on the same screen, whereas it's quite easy in RT.

    My comments on productivity are from my personal experience and, even taking away the desktop mode from my Acer Iconia W700, I'd probably still prefer a Windows RT platform to straight up Android for my type of productivity. Both are a joke compared to Windows Pro tablets though.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:49 AM
    eodeo,

    The main advantage to Surface RT tablets over Android/iOS is the regular Windows driver support - tens of thousands of USB devices, printers, etc - that Android and other types of machines likely won't have, along with Windows style multi monitor support, along with actual Office and not some half-arsed app. Personally, I feel that an RT device might actually outstrip Android and iOS devices as productivity devices at the same price point. At $350, I'd consider one over an iPad, though I still favour much cheaper Android tablets because of the cost advantage paired with the much more varied app store - clear advantage in everything but straight up productivity.

    That being said, if you compare an RT tablet to a full Windows tablet, it's still a clear second best for productivity, and if you want productivity, you generally don't want to compromise.
  • 0 Hide
    ryanrich83 , July 15, 2013 9:49 AM
    Windows RT was clearly not very well thought out. They rushed it to market for the holidays while the Surface Pros were being finished. When people use Windows, they expect it to work like Windows - main thing being that it runs regular x86 programs. It is hard to justify paying the same price as an iPad for a device that doesn't offer full x86 support, and with a store that doesn't even come close to the number of apps available with iPad or Android tablets.

    The Surface Pros with Windows 8 Pro is what the Surface was supposed to be. I want to get a second gen one with a Haswell CPU... Hopefully they drop the price on those too.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 9:55 AM
    Agreed in part Ryan. The way they went about introduce RT confused the heck out of a lot of people who thought it was, you know, Windows, and not Microsoft's version of an almost pure tablet interface. A lot of people got RT tablets thinking they'd be able to run the things that Windows ran only to find out that it was basically Android/iOS with a different look and a far more spartan app store.
  • 0 Hide
    Happy Lemming , July 15, 2013 11:40 AM
    I actually bought a Surface RT 32GB with an educational discount, and now I am learning what it will and won't do. It's not a general-purpose computer. It is compact, with good battery life and a great display, and the included Office stuff is convenient. I've found some useful apps that work well. It appears to have all the functionality I need when traveling, so I will leave the laptop at home and see how the Surface performs. I quite like it, at the reduced price.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , July 15, 2013 12:53 PM
    $150 off isn't this just a "free" keyboard offer? The only way to use the stripped down Office apps is with a keyboard.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 15, 2013 2:11 PM
    Quote:
    $150 off isn't this just a "free" keyboard offer? The only way to use the stripped down Office apps is with a keyboard.


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't every RT tablet come with the complete Student edition of Microsoft Office, not just their web apps? Frankly, their web-apps are unreliable as hell... But I do not believe those are all Windows RT tablets come with.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 15, 2013 2:28 PM
    Someone come up with XBMC for RT and I will buy one right now, as it is I continue to save for the Surface Pro - methinks when I have the cash v.2 with Haswell, thinner and longer battery life will be in the stores - no way will MS give up on this, it has vast amounts of money and lots of patience
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