Windows Device Sales Aren't Meeting Microsoft's Expectations, Ballmer Admits

In a closed door Microsoft meeting, CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly admits to disappointing Windows hardware sales.

By Brad Chacos
Fri, July 26, 2013

PC World — The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, but Microsoft's brass is reportedly owning up to its mistakes.

Both The Verge and Neowin say that in an internal Microsoft meeting this week, CEO Steve Ballmer and COO Kevin Turner were blunt in discussing some of the problems that have cropped up in the nine months since Windows 8 launched.

"We're not selling as many Windows devices as we want to," Ballmer admitted, according to The Verge, talking about the whole range of Windows-powered hardware, from phones to PCs to tablets.

Analyst numbers back up Ballmer's stark reality: PC sales are hemorrhaging, Windows tablets have yet to get off the ground, and while Windows Phones snatched the third-place crown away from BlackBerry earlier this year, Android and iOS still account for more than 92 percent of all smartphone sales, according to the IDC research group. And nothing Windows RT-related is selling whatsoever.

That includes Microsoft's own dive into the hardware side of things. At the meeting, Ballmer said "We built a few more [Surface RT] devices than we could sell," The Verge reports. You can say that again. Microsoft recently took a whopping $900 million accounting charge after slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet to $350.

Even so, Ballmer told Microsoft employees that the next-gen Surface RT sports "typical improvements" and is being tested right now, according to Neowin. That jibes with earlier reports that the second iteration of the Surface RT will include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

I've reached out to Microsoft representatives for comment and will let you know what they say.

Baby steps

Slowly and steadily, however, Microsoft is correcting the biggest stumbles surrounding the Windows 8 release.

When Windows 8 first launched, it was hard to find touchscreen devices at retail during the crucial holiday season, including Surface tablets, which were limited to Microsoft Stores at the time. In the months since, the early manufacturing hiccups have smoothed out. Touchscreen laptops and hybrids are now common, and Microsoft has taken steps to spread the Surface far and wide to multiple retailers across the nation.

Pricing of the first batch of Windows RT tablets has also plummeted, which should help to quell complaints that slates running the fledgling OS were overpriced at the same cost as an iPad.

But retail rejiggering alone won't right the Windows ship. The biggest complaints about the first wave of Windows 8 devices weren't so much about the hardware as much as the software itself.

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