What Microsoft Won't Say About Surface

Sales figures for its new tablet were perhaps the most conspicuously absent part of the software giant's on-target earnings report after the markets closed on Thursday. Here's why.

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In Microsoft's on-target earnings statement, released just after the markets closed Thursday afternoon, the software giant announced $21.46 billion in revenues — almost exactly what analysts expected — but it didn't say much about where that money came from, and sales figures for its new Surface device were perhaps the most conspicuously absent.

The only mention of the tablet that could have saved Microsoft — but hasn't — comes in the form of this vague, canned PR statement from CEO Steve Ballmer: "Our big, bold ambition to reimagine Windows as well as launch Surface and Windows Phone 8 has sparked growing enthusiasm with our customers and unprecedented opportunity and creativity with our partners and developers." The press summary of the earnings report later references tablet sales, citing a 40 percent increase in non-OEM revenue, a figure that includes the Surface but also Windows 8 upgrades. Much of that revenue likely stems from the supposed 60 million Windows 8 upgrades Microsoft sold last quarter and not the Surface tablet. The company didn't offer any clarification following the earnings release either, per this tweet from Bloomberg's Dina Bass:

All the shadiness makes it pretty easy to surmise that Microsoft doesn't want to talk about Mircosoft Surface and money... because Surface isn't making Microsoft much money. Early signs indicated just as much.

There's an upside, of course. Microsoft's Surface Pro, the more expensive, heftier version of the Surface RT, doesn't go on sale until February 9. Ballmer hopes that will "drive the excitement" for the Windows family of products. The Pro got decidedly better reviews than the RT because it's a lot more powerful. (It also costs a lot more, coming in at $899 to the baby Surface's $500 pricetag — even if it comes without the cool touch keyboad) The new device might have more buyer's appeal than the RT. Then again, because of that big price tab, maybe people will just want to get a similarly priced Macbook Pro.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.