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Ballmer admits slow Surface sales. But I think the tablet, and Windows 8 phones, will be a slow-burning success

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a French newspaper, over the weekend, that sales of the company’s new Surface RT tablet have been modest.

In New Zealand they’ve been zip. Microsoft’s local operation isn’t sure when the tablet will be released here.

There’s been better news on the Windows Phone 8 front. As NBR reported November 4), Telecom is releasing three Windows Phone 8 handsets before Christmas. the carrier will stage a launch next Monday featuring the Nokia Lumia 920 (a beautiful phone with frills like wireless recharging), the Samsung ATIV S and the HTC 8S. Vodafone and 2degrees have also made positive, if so far detail-free, promises of Windows Phone product before Christmas.

At this point in our Apple and Android dominated mobile lives, it’s hard to see the Surface, and Windows Phone 8 devices, being a rip-roaring success.

And yet, it’s almost certain they will gain traction in the market.

There are a half billion or so Windows 7 users out there. Once a decent whack of them upgrade to Windows 8 (and for most it will simply arrive with a new PC or laptop), Microsoft’s strategy of the same(ish) operating system software across computer, tablet and phone will start to hold more appeal.

A tablet that can seamless run the same software as your PC (or even replace your your PC or laptop when you dock it to a monitor and keyboard) will have a lot of appeal to some in the Windows camp. Through in a phone that can handle hassle free Microsoft Exchange synching and you've got a very appealing A-Z solution for corporates.

But don't look for any headway in the IDC sales charts in the immediate quarters to come. we’re definitely talking a slow burn here – as in one or two years, or longer. The beefier, Windows 8-based Surface Pro isn’t even released in the US until early 2013.

And only time will tell if success will be measured in terms of respectable minority share, or a full on market  challenge to Apple and Android’s domination.

Another open question: whether Nokia can stick it out that long, or at least not be tempted in other directions. Possibly as a contingency plan, it looks like Microsoft is planning its own smartphone.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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Comments and questions
8

It is a very nice product with some unique features. When I was recently in California, Microsoft's advertising for their tablet was formidable on the major TV channels.

I agree it will be a slow burner. Shame it isnt advertised here, but then marketing budgets have a habit hitting australia and never being seen in NZ..... I'll hold out until the surface pro and will buy then, RT looks like a dead end

I agree. The RT version doesn't provide any real advantages over Android or iOS. The Windows 8 Pro machine on the other hand looks like it will be a useful device.

It's not the kind of product mad consumers will queue in the cold to buy at a minute after midnight. On the other hand corporate buyers will take 'em buy the truck load - but not until a technology refresh.

'developers, developers, developers!' - jump the bald monkey

Having seen and played with a Surface I think it is a great tablet, just as good build quality as the iPad and when it gets apps like Zite, Flipboard, Zinio it will be far better.

It has something's the iPad doesn't have (1) a USB port (2) a HDMI port (3) 30 million tracks from Xbox Music to stream (4) covers you can type on (5) Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a Windows file system so you can store documents on it without having to use Dropbox.

"Slow burner" is business-speak for fizzer.

"In New Zealand they’ve been zip" umm I think your wrong, people have been purchasing them, its the world of online shopping. So to say that none have been purchased is just wrong. but then the person writing the article has no reason to say anything positive about Microsoft it seems