PARIS (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's new Surface tablet - its challenger to Apple's iPad - had a "modest" start to sales because of limited availability, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told French daily Le Parisien.

The world's largest software company put the Surface tablet center stage at its Windows 8 launch event last month in its fightback against Apple and Google in the exploding mobile computing market.

"We've had a modest start because Surface is only available on our online retail sites and a few Microsoft stores in the United States," Ballmer was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, 4 million upgrades to Windows 8 were sold in the three days following the system's launch, Ballmer added. (Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by David Cowell)

Earlier on HuffPost:



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  • Touch Cover

    Typing on tablet computers can be a struggle for those accustomed to PC's physical keyboards. Microsoft Surface offers a solution with a lightweight keyboard attachment that clicks into place and doubles as a cover for the device. <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2012/jun12/06-18announce.aspx" target="_hplink">According to a Microsoft press release</a>, the 3mm detachable Touch Cover unfolds into a "unique pressure-sensitive" keypad that offers an alternative to the device's on-screen virtual keyboard. For those who crave the feel of physical keys, a 5mm-thin version, called the Type Cover, features moving keys and a <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/microsoft-dives-head-first-into-mobile-hardware-with-a-pair-of-10-6-inch-tablets/" target="_hplink">multi-touch track pad</a>.

  • Options For Casual And Power Users

    Before picking up a Surface tablet, potential buyers should <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf" target="_hplink">consider which version best fits their needs</a>: The Windows RT version, a more traditional tablet that's slim and light and performs basic tasks -- with a presumably iPad-like price tag; or the Windows 8 Pro configuration, a slightly beefier and slightly pricier tablet that's more closely related to a laptop and capable of running heavy-duty software. <br></br> <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf" target="_hplink">Surface tablets running Windows RT</a> are built around an ARM processor. <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/09/technology/arm-ipad-intel/index.htm" target="_hplink">According to CNN,</a> chipsets made by ARM are found in 95 percent of other mobile devices, including the iPad. <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf" target="_hplink">Windows 8 Pro models</a> are built around an Intel chip and will run applications that one would expect to find on traditional laptops: <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/257840/microsoft_announces_surface_tablet_pc.html" target="_hplink">Photoshop, Word, and Excel.</a> <br></br> "Those looking for a complete Windows experience in the form of a tablet will obviously need to pony up for the Windows 8 Pro model," <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/18/microsoft-surface-tablets-the-differences-between-rt-and-window/" target="_hplink"> Engadget writes.</a>

  • Integrated Kickstand

    Microsoft is keen on packing convenience into its new devices. Each Surface comes with a built-in kickstand that pops out from the back panel and props the device at an angle, letting the user enjoy media or type comfortably on a flat surface. "No extra weight, no extra thickness, no separate add-on. It's integrated, just like the software and hardware are integrated into Surface," said Windows and Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jozTK-MqEXQ" target="_hplink">per the Verge's video of the Surface unveiling</a>.

  • Digital Ink And Stylus

    Microsoft designed the <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf" target="_hplink">Windows 8 Pro version</a> of the Surface tablet to accept stylus input. The company's demonstration of how the digital ink works gave the impression that writing, highlighting and underlining on the tablet is easy. <a href="http://www.slashgear.com/microsoft-surface-to-feature-digital-ink-stylus-support-18234493/" target="_hplink">Writes SlashGear</a>, "The distance between the screen (digitizer) and the stylus is only .7mm thick, and allows for it to be highly accurate, making you feel like the ballpoint of a pen is actually writing on the 'surface.'"

  • Microsoft Office

    Both the RT and Win 8 Pro versions of Surface will run the Microsoft Office productivity suite, though the Windows RT version <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/257840/microsoft_announces_surface_tablet_pc.html" target="_hplink">will get a mobile-optimized app</a>, instead of the full program. Meanwhile, iPad owners must settle for <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/05/nyt-office-for-ipad-is-still-on/" target="_hplink">speculation of the long-rumored native iOS Office app.</a>.

  • USB Ports

    Plenty of people weren't happy when the iPad launched <a href="http://store.apple.com/us/question/answers/ipad?tqid=QJ9CA7CXXFHDFUUU7PT47A24U4YAUH79K" target="_hplink">without USB ports back in 2010.</a> Microsoft seems to have taken that to heart. The <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf" target="_hplink">width of the Surface</a> offers just enough space for a traditional USB. Both the RT and the Windows 8 Pro versions of Surface boast two USB ports. "These ports open up the possibility of extra storage, printing and other external capabilities that should be easier and quicker than the workarounds iPad users need involving cloud storage, Wi-Fi connections and the like," <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/19/tech/microsoft-surface-ipad/index.html" target="_hplink">CNN reports.</a>

  • An Angled Approach

    Just like the iPad, the Surface tablet includes <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/webcams" target="_hplink">two built-in webcams</a> for snapping pictures or video chatting. The Surface's kickstand, however, angles the device at 22 degrees, pointing the front-facing camera up at the user's face. <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/about.aspx" target="_hplink">Microsoft set the rear-facing camera into the device at 22 degrees</a>, so that the user's not shooting down at the table when filming a subject.