Surface RT Prices Slashed

Microsoft drops the price under the entry-level iPad to get traction in the market.

For Microsoft developers to get interested in writing programs for Windows 8, they have to know there will be a market. Toward that end, Microsoft is working hard to develop that market, which means selling more tablets.

That's why many developers are closely watching Redmond's pricing strategy. Those developers may be encouraged by the latest news about more market-friendly pricing for a segment of Microsoft's devices.

It has dropped the price for all of its consumer-oriented productivity tablets running Windows RT by $150.

A price cut appeared for all four Surface RT models on Sunday:

  • The 32 GB model is now $349, down from $499 (a 30 percent cut).
  • The 64 GB model is now $449, down from $699 (a 21 percent cut).
  • The 32 GB model with the black Touch Cover is now $449, down from $599 (a 25 percent cut).
  • The 64 GB model with the black Touch Cover is now $549, down from $699 (a 21 percent cut).

The Microsoft Surface Pro, which runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro rather than the limited-functionality Windows RT operating system, is not marked down for now. Prices for that tablet remain $899 for the 64 GB model and $999 for the 128 GB model.

At WPC, Microsoft offered partner attendees the chance to buy the 64 GB Surface RT with the black Touch Cover for $100, the 128 GB Surface Pro for $400 or both for $500. Microsoft offered a similar deal to attendees of its Tech-Ed conference, and gave Surfaces away to developer attendees of Build.

During WPC, Microsoft officials said more than 16,000 Surfaces had sold by Wednesday morning with two full days of the conference to go.

Analysts at IDC have said Surface has sold about 900,000 units in each of the last two quarters, which are relatively weak figures in the hyper-growth tablet market. The price cuts come just as Microsoft is releasing an aggressive series of commercials comparing Windows 8-based tablets to the iPad.

The new Surface RT prices give Microsoft  an advantage to the full-sized Apple iPad on price. The 16 GB iPad starts at $499, which is the same price as Surface with a keyboard and double the storage.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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