The word is out: Microsoft lost nearly a billion dollars on the Surface tablet (opens in new tab). And there are apparently something like six million units sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
The Surface (opens in new tab) is one of many devices Microsoft has to manufacture to fill the shelves in the chain of Microsoft stores which are currently opening up at a fair rate of knots in the US and Canada. It can't just sell copies of Windows 8 (opens in new tab) at its stores and expect to beat Apple. Unfortunately, there are still not enough stores to handle the six million leftover units. You'd think that there would be some traction for the device after all the fancy TV ads and promotions.
The company seems rather unaggressive with evaluations since I haven't even been able to get my hands on one. Hearing that there are so many of the things in the warehouse, I'd suggest Microsoft send 1,000 devices to tech journalists and bloggers. Or maybe 10,000 and include rifle ranges so they can be used as targets. Of course, it is now too late to do any of this and I suspect the company will be giving them away at conferences like free pens.
This failure, and the on-going failure of the Windows Phone (opens in new tab) platform, is more than a disaster for Microsoft. I say this because the only common thread between the phone and the tablet is the interface, which has stupidly been put on the desktop, essentially poisoning the platform. All the "PC is dead chatter" stems from this contamination but Microsoft fails to see the pattern of failure.
Sadly, none of these devices are actually bad, they are just disliked. It's as if someone put a voodoo curse on the interface.
I do not have a problem with the interface when used on a phone. In fact, I recently decided to reactivate my Nokia Lumia 810 to get whatever updates I could and use it for a while. Unfortunately, it won't boot and it won't charge. A quick Google search shows that this and numerous other problems plague the gorgeous phone. Google "Lumia 800 fail," or "Lumia 800 problems" and see what you get. The results for the Lumia 810 are similar.
My problem was apparently a "deep discharge" from the phone sitting on the shelf too long. I figured this was no big deal and that all I would have to do was replace the battery. Oooops. The unit is sealed tight; there is no way to remove the battery. So I have a brick. Fantastic. The voodoo curse strikes Nokia.
So here we have an insurmountable issue for Windows and the entire milieu of this presumptuous GUI.
I think the company could weather this Surface fiasco and could probably give the devices to African children through the Gates Foundation. And the company would get a huge tax benefit. This assumes, of course, that African children want the device in the first place.