With the Surface RT tablet having been on-sale approaching nine months, now is probably the right time for Microsoft to cut the price to goose interest before second-generation model refreshes arrive. Will this help sales along or is Surface destined to struggle to gain acceptance among both Windows and gadget users?
Adding Shine to the Surface
Multiple retailers are getting ready to drop the price of Microsoft's Surface tablets, according to reports around the web. The price should drop by around $150, suggesting a concerted effort by Microsoft to get the devices moving, likely to make way for more powerful or smaller models as the market evolves.
UPDATE: Unfortunately the offer by the likes of Staples doesn't appear to include the Pro version, as mentioned in an earlier version of this story. Apologies for the mistake and any undue eagerness caused. UPDATE to the UPDATE: Microsoft has now confirmed a price cut for the Surface Pro.
The price cuts, likely to be made official over the weekend, will see up to $150 taken off the cost of a Surface RT tablet in the U.S. That should bring the entry-level 32GB model down to $349.99, compared to $429 for a 32GB iPad mini. Samsung's ATIV Tab models running Windows 8 range from around $500 to $1,000.
Microsoft hasn't given out any Surface sales figures, and as partners continue to sound down on their Wintablet sales, it will be up to Microsoft to drive the market, with the upcoming Windows 8.1 update and competitive pricing, while the likes of Samsung and others drive the ecosystem with new hardware. On the Windows Phone side of the family, Nokia's latest Lumia 1020 cameraphone is the latest move in that effort.
Microsoft's recent updates have allowed for smaller Surface and other Windows 8 tablet devices, giving makers more leeway when it comes to design and pricing, this should help compete with the world of Android tablets better. However, as iOS 7 gets closer to completion, Windows evangelists need to be singing about the new features in 8.1, not covering up the cracks left by Windows 8.
Microsoft also has the Windows-like Xbox One console on the way, which might help interest users in the ecosystem, if cross-device or cloud-driven gaming becomes a staple feature, but increasingly, the Windows tablet world is looking like a small part of the tablet pie, lost somewhere between executive toy and trying to compete among a world of established mobile and tech distractions in the home.
Expect Microsoft's hardware partners to reveal more new kit, and make similar clearance cost cuts, in the run up to the holiday season as the newly realigned Microsoft gets ready for its biggest battle against Apple and Android yet.