Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer is finally admitting what everyone has been thinking: Microsoft made a huge mistake with the Surface RT tablet.
Last week, the company disclosed that it lost over $900 million on the low-selling tablet computer, and during an internal Microsoft event this week, Ballmer put the disaster into simple, understated terms, The Verge and Neowin separately reported.
"We built a few more devices than we could sell," Ballmer reportedly said.
Despite some good reviews, Microsoft had an extraordinarily difficult time getting the Surface off of shelves, and an overwhelming number of Surface RT tablets have been left unsold. If you break down the $900 million Microsoft lost on the Surface RT, it comes out to about 6 million unsold devices.
Still, Microsoft is working on the next generation of the tablet, and internal response to the new device has been positive at Microsoft, Neowin reports.
It's not just the Surface that has been letting the company down; Microsoft is not selling enough Windows products in general. But Microsoft does have one bright spot: Windows Phone 8 is beating BlackBerry for the coveted No. 3 spot in the smartphone market.
Earlier on HuffPost:
'It Is Undercooked'
<a href="http://gizmodo.com/5953866/microsoft-surface-rt-review-this-is-technological-heartbreak">Gizmodo's Sam Biddle</a> had plenty to praise for the Surface RT -- for its design, its version of Internet Explorer -- before listing a litany of flaws and recommending not buying it. Wrote Biddle: <blockquote>We're not there yet. Surface is a fantastic promise, and holds fantastic potential. But while potential is worth your attention, it's not worth your paycheck. Surface RT gets so many things right, and pulls so many good things together into one package. But it is undercooked.</blockquote>
'Yes, You Can Use It As Your Only Computer'
Like Biddle, <a href="http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/10/microsoft-surface/">Wired's Mat Honan</a> complained about typing difficulties and lack of apps, but overall was pleased. <blockquote>Yes, you can use it as your only computer. I would never have made that claim about an iPad or Android tablet. But if you only need to live in Microsoft Office and the web and e-mail, and use your computer for media consumption, you’ll do great with this. I used it as my primary computer for several days. There were applications I missed, and I would never want it to be my only computer (the keyboard and screen are just too small) but it worked. I was fine.</blockquote>
'A Brilliantly Conceived Machine Whose Hardware Will Take Your Breath away — But Whose Software Will Take Away Your Patience'
<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/technology/personaltech/microsoft-unveils-the-surface-its-first-tablet-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&">The New York Times' David Pogue</a> laments the "split personality" of the tablet: It's hardware is beautiful, it's software is heartbreaking. "In time, maybe the Windows RT apps will come. Maybe the snags will get fixed. Maybe people will solve the superimposed puzzle of Windows RT and Windows 8," Pogue writes hopefully. "Until then, the Surface is a brilliantly conceived machine whose hardware will take your breath away — but whose software will take away your patience."
'A Slate Upon Which You Can Get Some Serious Work Done'
<a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/23/microsoft-surface-rt-review/">Engadget's Tim Stevens</a> makes another distinction: Between those who want a tablet to create or to consumer. The former, he says, will want to look closely at the Surface RT. From Stevens' review: <blockquote>The Microsoft Surface with Windows RT's $499 starting MSRP means those thinking about making the investment here will be carefully cross-shopping against same-priced offerings from Apple, ASUS and others. Where does this one rate? Very well -- but very differently. While those devices are primarily targeted at content-hungry consumers, the Surface is a slate upon which you can get some serious work done, and do so comfortably. You can't always say that of the competition.</blockquote>
'Surface RT Isn’t A Tablet'
Ultimately concluding that consumers should wait out this generation of Surfaces until Microsoft does some improvements, <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/23/microsoft-surface-rt-review/">TechCrunch's Matt Burns</a> argues that this really isn't a tablet: "It’s not a legitimate alternative to the iPad or Galaxy Note 10.1. That’s not a bad thing," he says. "With the Touch Covers, the Surface RT is a fine alternative to a laptop, offering a slightly limited Windows experience in a small, versatile form. Just don’t call it an iPad killer."
'Surface Is The Most Flexible Tablet I've Ever Used'
<a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/6385/microsoft-surface-review/12">Tech blogger Anand Shimpi</a> called the tablet "recommendable" in a generally positive review. He writes thus: <blockquote>Surface is the most flexible tablet I've ever used. Through two seemingly simple additions to the design (but incredibly complex to actually develop and implement), Microsoft took a tablet and turned it into something much more. If you're frustrated by productivity limits of currently available tablets, Surface really seems to be the right formula for a solution. </blockquote>
'It May Give You The Productivity Some Miss In Other Tablets'
<a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204425904578074752984926268.html?mod=djemptech_t">The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg </a>argues that if you can look past the flaws (mediocre battery life, poor app selection) buyers who want productivity out of their tablets should consider the Surface RT. "Microsoft's Surface is a tablet with some pluses: the major Office apps and nice, optional keyboards," he writes. "If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps, and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets."