Unnamed sources are telling media outlets that Microsoft has sold 1.5 million Surface tablets so far, including 400,000 Surface Pro tablets. Whether those numbers represent good news or bad news for Microsoft depends on whose interpretation you believe.
Bloomberg's Ian King and Dina Bass first reported the story, writing, "Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has sold about 1.5 million Surface devices, people with knowledge of the company’s sales said, a slow start in its bid to crack the fast-growing tablet market to make up for slumping personal-computer demand. Microsoft has sold little more than a million of the Surface RT version and about 400,000 Surface Pros since their debuts, according to three people, who asked not to be named because sales haven’t yet been made public. The company had ordered about 3 million Surface RTs, they said. Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG, had initially projected that Microsoft would sell 2 million Surface RT devices in the December quarter alone. The poor reception for Surface, unveiled last year, adds to challenges facing Microsoft’s Windows unit, which brings in a quarter of the company’s revenue."
But CNET's Brooke Crothers offered a different take on the story, writing, "That's not a bad start for a very pricey tablet -- starting at $899 -- considering that the Windows 8-based Pro launched only about a month ago. 'That's a respectable number and it leads me to believe that Surface Pro will end up outselling Surface RT,' Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC, said in a phone interview."
WindowsITPro's Paul Thurott concurred, adding, "Take heart, Windows 8 fans: PCs based on the beleaguered new Microsoft OS are outselling the supposed competition—Chromebooks running Google’s ChromeOS—by a much wider margin than expected." He noted that Chromebooks have less than a 1 percent market share and Surface tablets are outselling Chromebooks so far. "It’s time we stop pretending that Google’s ChromeOS—which is just a web browser with a tiny layer of sort-of-Linux OS code wrapped around it—is a viable alternative to Windows. It’s not, especially when you consider that any Windows user can install the Chrome browser for free," he opined.
But Kevin Parrish with Tom's Hardware supported those who view the sales figures negatively, commenting, "There certainly seems to be no question that Windows 8 isn't performing as Microsoft expected. Even its own branded Surface tablets are experiencing a slow adoption rate – so slow that Microsoft isn't releasing actual numbers."