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back to article Partner firms: Microsoft kept Surface from you for YOUR OWN GOOD

Those caring souls at Microsoft initially cut the technology channel out of the Surface supply chain because execs wanted to finetune forecasting and spare sales partners from a potential inventory pile-up. Or so says Phil Sorgen, global partner veep, who reckons the path Microsoft took was "safer" for its legion of suppliers, …

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Had a change to use the orginal surface pro for a few minutes. It was heavy but solid. The price though, it's possible to get better spec'ed full laptops for less.

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Go grab market, kill competition ....

Why not dump the written down stock on the market? HP proved £99 is a very sweet spot. It would have given them some more base and damaged Android and Apple. It's not as though they would lose that many sales at full price ...

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Re: Go grab market, kill competition ....

I was thinking the same thing. I'd snap up a couple of Surface 1's for £99 and while in the short term it would take sales away from the Surface 2, it would massively grow the RT user base and would be good for the platform and its Store. I don't think it would do much damage to what's already a rather beleaguered brand. C'mon Satya, make a bold first move!

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Re: Go grab market, kill competition ....

Stuart, that's what they did. The write-downs were on Surface RT, and the Surface RT was heavily discounted in the run up to Christmas. Surface 2 is much more balanced in terms of supply and demand (i.e., demand is slightly higher, but more importantly, MS didn't build piles and piles of the Surface 2 models in expectation of really high sales).

Most of the Surface (1) RT models have now been sold.

The Surface Pro models were, if anything, under-orderd by MS. Low sales were mainly supply constraints for the Intel-powered units.

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Re: Go grab market, kill competition ....

Because dumping things in the market establishes a price ceiling and any of your future offerings in that category have to be laboriously upsold, one feature at a time, to justify the cost disparity between the product you dumped cheaply and the rather similar, full price product you replace it with.

'Market share' is often treated like a wholly positive thing, but there are reasons why margins collapse and losses soar in the quarterlies leading up to, and immediately following, the capturing & building out to support the increased costs of supporting your now larger share. More than a few companies have failed during that period. Amazon still makes enormous losses as it invests to support its growth and Netflix was incredibly close to being sold as a bunch of distribution agreements during its big growth periods.

I'm not saying market share isn't good, but it is insanely expensive to cope with. If 'coping' isn't your goal, of if you simply aren't structured to deal with high volume, low margin offerings it's best to just do an ET and bury your unsold inventory in a landfill.

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Re: Go grab market, kill competition ....

>Why not dump the written down stock on the market? HP proved £99 is a very sweet spot.

And then...? Problem is that even at £99 Surface is a product with no future, so it's not as if you're 'creating an ecosystem' or 'building buy-in on your platform' or whatever the current marketing bullshit is.

Win RT was always a stupid idea - all the 'benefits' of Win 8, with none of the...

Never mind. I think I'll just give up on that sentence. It makes as much sense as Win RT does.

A Surface Pro at £199, or even at £299, would be something else entirely, and a classic loss-leader to get users onto Win 8. But we all know that's not going to happen.

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Paris Hilton

Hmmm Yeh but No but Y...

Hindsight is 100%?

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Re: Hmmm Yeh but No but Y...

No. Hindsight is 20/20. Hindsight could be 50%, but just as well focused if you had only one eye, were looking through a telescope or microscope or peephole. There could be other physical factors as well, glaucoma for example, that gradually reduced available vision so it's entirely possible to have 53.76% :)

But your point is taken. Normally such a thing would be valuable for a company. But MS stopped learning from its mistakes and listening to customers about 20 years ago. The have no vision, in any direction, because they're living in that special blackout place between gallons of booze, handfuls of cocaine and big frozen lollipops made of ketamine and death.

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Zot
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I saw a Surface...

...as product placement on US TV shows. The actors seem to find it a little clunky and unresponsive, almost in a comical way at times. I've not seen a Surface in use for real though.

Microsoft has never been cool and hip, but it tries oh so hard to be so, embarrassingly. They are like the an Uncle at a wedding disco.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I saw a Surface...

Hey Microsoft,

Thanks for being so charitable and looking after our pockets. Nobel peace prize in the waiting? Surely. See , no tablet wars !

Now, how about giving us a simple OS upgrade to WIN7, rather than ram down our throats TIFKAM (Metro) Whatever, Surface2, Pro, RT whatever, at a decent upgrade price of £ 19.99? And then expect us to pay £120 for this and hope to remain in you ecosystem? Apple just upgrades the software OTA.

Apples hardware price gouging is legendary, but you are trying to shaft us with both, Hardware and software.

I see you still have the deathwish and the spiral has begun.

Seriously contemplating Linux, now.

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Re: I saw a Surface...

I rooted a Galaxy tab 3 and installed Ubuntu. It's very flaky but an idea of what's possible without 'droid or an iPad. Unity takes some getting used to , but it's fun and fast. More like an Uncle on Acid at a school disco. Old code, fast and unpredictable!

Or 'buntu with a modern laptop goes like a steam train.

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Re: I saw a Surface...

I saw those programmes too. It was always 'No, it is working fine.' That's the message, surface just works and is used by everybody in tv land.

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Re: I saw a Surface...

It's funny you mention the hip/cool thing, and how MS has never been in that category. For many years I travelled constantly for work and we all played this game where we would count MS product placements in TV shows and categorize them according to the surroundings they appeared in.

The overwhelming majority were in some type of inbred, cube farm/open office environment which looked realistic enough, if you've never been in an office space like that. What was most conspicuous however, was the fact that, in every show, monitors were far too large, in far too great a quantity for that era. They also appeared to have some features we no longer have access to. Such as the ability for a user to see through the giant Windows sticker on the back of the monitor, the monitor case, the board and somehow still be able to see the screen.

A few years ago I received an email from an old colleague and he told me about blatant MS product placement in a show called Fringe and another called Bones. Both were notable for the fact they still had access to the special monitors, but instead of a Windows sticker, they had full on backlit emblems affixed to them. I've never seen a monitor with a Windows emblem of any kind affixed the back, but that doesn't matter.

To your point, MS always had the desktops locked down, but in Fringe and Bones the manufacturer of laptops, smartphones and MP3 players (the 'cool' products) were apparently done on an episode by episode basis. With Nokia Windows Phones, Blackberry phones, Samsung phones and an HTC a few times. Evidence of late stage breakdown of negotiations was also visible in laptops that had the Apple logo during the earlier part of the show being covered later in the same episode by MADD or the 'No Marijuana' stickers.

At any rate, our game grew extremely complex and we set about trying to weight product placement in shows with product placement in real offices. We had drunkenly discussed writing software to do weighting and placement effectiveness with the goal of either selling it to the studios to establish better placement pricing or to advertisers to get more bang for their product placement buck. When a few of the guys started actually doing just that I quit playing. It was too much like work. I wanted out of IT, not deeper in it.

But here's the big issue. It isn't that MS really ever tried to be 'cool', it's that they truly believed the office to be cool and by being there it made them cool by association. They were wrong. But don't tell that to the hot chick that just ran through the commercial in Apple branded running panties or whatever the cool kids call those shorts.

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Re: I saw a Surface...

>I see you still have the deathwish and the spiral has begun.

>

>Seriously contemplating Linux, now.

Still only contemplating, even though the MS stuff is rubbish and they are in a death spiral?

About time you jumped isn't it?

After all, there is not one single reason for you to use the MS system, it costs money and is useless.

Run Linux for us (I hear the 14.04 Ubuntu is great now) - ought to be by 14.

Report back so we can all convert over, do hurry, I am not sure my OS will survive the wait.

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Re: I saw a Surface...

In actuality, Apples are far more common in TV and movie land than in real life simply because the creators of same often use Apple gear, it is good gear and it looks nice and rice is rarely the object in movies or TV, looking good is paramount (see what I did there?).

On a point of fact about product placement, Shonda Rhimes, who writes Grey's Anatomy decided she wanted tech in her show for some reason and selected the Surface for her docs. She has a lot of control over the show. One doesn't see a whole lot of action on them, they mostly just view X-rays, MRIs and the like but they seem to work just fine.

The Bones episode where she discusses the merits of the auto-parking Toyota something she is driving was cringe-making compared to the occasional call taken on a Lumia.

Microsoft may appear to want to be cool but they have never had specific strategy to try to be so. This is reflected by someone like Bill Gates who would rather make a phone charger that works with urine or a solar toilet - about as far from cool as it is possible to get. Of course, the fact that I think that that is cool makes me an outsider obviously - but then I think WinPhones are much, much cooler than the alternatives.

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LDS
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Re: I saw a Surface...

Reading this on a Surface 2 Pro... maybe those around you can't simply afford one.

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Re: "Seriously contemplating Linux, now."

Oh, is it the "Year of the Linux Desktop" is it? ... yet again?

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I tell you what not having Surface inventory in the channel is doing, it's making some of us have to resort to going to John Lewis if we need the odd unit, which is a pain in the ass, or, worse we're just not entertaining the requests to start with.

There is demand, but the distributors and resellers we deal with are not pushing it simply because they cannot get the device. As usual, and for reasons that make sense to absolutely nobody, Microsoft is strangling it's own product and wondering why everyone goes with the competition.

It isn't rocket science - I can't but what doesn't exist.

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Selling 1/10 the the number of Surfaces as iPads sold by Apple is actually quite good. The number of iPads sold is huge. Unparalleled for a device of its type. They are sold to a market more global than ever before. So let's be clear 1/10the number means MS have gained a toe hold in the market and can begin to expand.

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> So let's be clear 1/10the number means MS have gained a toe hold in the market

It wasn't 1/10.

"""3.6 million Surface devices globally last year. [..] Apple sold nearly 31 million units of the iPad... in Q4."""

"""Sales of tablet computers surged to 195.4 million last year"""

So that would be less than 1/50.

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Reading practice required

Check the article: "Microsoft shipped ..." and "Apple sold ...". We have no idea how few Microsoft sold. Only that the the figure was so low they had to compare apples to oranges to make the figures look terrible instead of abysmal.

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Anonymous Coward

Well done Microsoft... how about a Surface 3? And Surface 4?

Let's see how much money you can burn.

And no, resident El Reg spinmeisters who're employed by Microsoft, the Surface was an abject failure. Microsoft is a tainted brand, and Windows 8 is a usability disaster... makes for a very bad combo.

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Re: Well done Microsoft... how about a Surface 3? And Surface 4?

You are Eadon and I claim my five pounds

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