According to Bloomberg‘s sources, Microsoft has sold about 1 million Surface RT tablets—the model that runs only Windows 8 applications. It was introduced in October.
These same sources said the company had ordered production of 3 million Surface RTs. So Microsoft didn’t even sell half of those. It’s not clear how many Surface Pro units it ordered.
Microsoft’s hardware partners have been lining up to bad-mouth the Surface, which competes with their products, and the Windows 8 operating system.
Earlier this month, Samsung executive Jun Dong-soo had a lot of negative comments about Microsoft in a meeting with reporters.
“I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform,” Dong-soo said.
Windows Vista—the predecessor to the better-received Windows 7 operating system—is widely regarded to be one of Microsoft’s biggest failures.
And partners like like Acer, Asus, and Fujitsu have also said that Windows 8 device sales were weak.
It’s not that consumers didn’t want tablets. They just want tablets that don’t run Windows.
Apple sold 23 million iPads in the holiday quarter, the company said. Tablets running Google‘s Android operating system, sold by Samsung, Amazon, Asus, and others, accounted for most of the rest of the tablet market.
As dismal as this sounds, Microsoft’s defenders would say that it’s too early to tell how Surface will do over the long haul.
For most of the forth quarter, Microsoft only sold the tablet through its own website and stores. And there aren’t very many of those stores—only 65, compared to Apple’s 400-plus. So consumers didn’t have a chance to see the Surface. In mid-December, retail outlets like Best Buy and Staples began to carry the RT.
Microsoft has said it’s sold some 60 million Windows 8 licenses so far, which is the number of licenses sold to PC makers, not the number of Windows 8 PCs sold to consumers. It gives an idea of the size of the market. Surface represented about 2 percent.
If the point of the Surface was to attract a large number of people to a Windows tablet this seems like a bleak beginning.