Microsoft took a $900 million (£580 million) bath after struggling to move the Surface RT but the company is going full-steam ahead with Surface RT accessories and a new version of the little pad machine sometime early next year.
So is this thing a turkey or not? What is going on here? Is there some crazy strategy we do not know about? To complicate matters, Asus gave up and pulled the plug on its Windows RT devices.
Meanwhile, Dell is staying the course with Microsoft. And this is despite the fact that Dell has never fully subscribed to the "tablet is the future" philosophy and would rather just stay away. But the company is glued to the strategy, whatever it may be.
A class-action lawsuit highlights the anomaly. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd claims Microsoft released misleading information regarding sales of the Surface RT.
I've always contended that the Surface devices are specifically designed to sell in the Microsoft stores. When I bring this up, I always get blasted with the same litany of complaints: "Who would go there?" "They are a cheap imitation of Apple Stores." "What do they have to sell?"
When you mention that Microsoft has something called the Xbox, they change their tune.
And it's the Xbox that may actually be influencing the Surface RT. For years Microsoft was close to pulling the plug on the Xbox. It was losing boatloads of money until one day the tide turned and the company was sitting on a huge cash cow.
This sort of patience is uncommon at Microsoft. The company is old-school, and by that I mean Microsoft thinks like a 1970s company where success comes right out of the chute. You don't bring something out to see it fail, then try and try and try again.
That said, the biggest mistake marketing people make is not listening to what the market is telling them. They waste money on a dead-end product simply because they think it should be successful.
With the Xbox, Microsoft saw the success but without the kind of sales it would need to be profitable. Otherwise Redmond would probably have dumped it. There was something in the numbers the company had that told it to hang tight.
I have to assume the same thing holds true for the Surface RT. I think the lawsuit actually stems from Microsoft not coming clean after the $900 million (£580 million) write-down. Just fess up and tell the shareholders what is really going on.
Then again, this could all be a ruse. Maybe Microsoft is just hanging on to the device to fill space in its stores. But then how do you explain Dell?