Microsoft lost a staggering $900m on the Surface RT

Microsoft has admitted it's written off a jaw-dropping $900m worth of Surface tablets, which it describes as "best selling" on its website.

It's an expensive business, launching a tech product. Especially when no one buys it. Microsoft has admitted it's written off a jaw-dropping $900m worth of Surface tablets, which it describes as "best selling" on its website.

Brian Hall, Microsoft's general manager of Surface marketing, and surely a man who feels the Sword of Damocles hanging over him right now, told our sister site CNET News that the company remains "100 per cent committed" to both the Surface and its software, Windows RT.

"We know we need a lot of Surface users to start the flywheel of people recommending it," Hall whimpered.

Windows RT is the disastrous version of Windows 8 that runs on mobile chips and only lets you download apps from the understocked Windows Marketplace app store -- you can't install full Windows programs.

Other companies, most notably Samsung , have criticised Windows RT in the past as being badly marketed, and cancelled planned Windows RT products.

$900m works out to about 6 million tablets just lying around in a warehouse somewhere, unloved and lonely, according to IBTimes. It sold fewer than a million of them in the first three months of this year, analyst IDC reckons.

Microsoft slashed the price of the 10-inch tablet earlier this week, with the 32GB model down to £280 from £400. That's massively cheaper than the £400 16GB retina iPad and even undercuts the 16GB Nexus 10. If you're not bothered about playing the latest mobile games and want a big tablet for surfing the Web and emailing, it's cracking value. You have to pay extra for the nifty Touch Cover keyboard, however -- a whopping £100 extra.

The Surface RT will be upgraded to Windows 8.1 RT later this year, bringing some usability improvements -- and Office -- but you still won't be allowed to install standard Windows programs on its Desktop.

Would you plump for a Surface now it's cheaper than its 10-inch rivals? Or is its dearth of top-notch apps a deal-breaker? Surface your thoughts in the comments, or on our cut-price Facebook page.

 

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