back to article Microsoft lures buy-curious vixens, corduroys with a cheap fondle

Microsoft is slashing the price on its Windows 8-powered Surface RT tablets to slap the unwanted kit into students' palms. For a limited time, Redmond will knock 60 per cent off the price of a 32GB ARM-driven fondleslab to $199 (£127); a 32GB with Touch Keyboard Cover will be slashed by 58 per cent to $249 (£158); and a 32GB …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    same old routine

    Get the carp into education and it will spread from there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: same old routine

      Yeah. Damn fish......

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: same old routine

        Clearly Ballmer is floundering. Eel probably be sorry he ever had anything to do with the Surface.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: same old routine

          Looks like he's been well and truly trout-slapped. Oh well, maybe he should get on his pike.

          We'd better close this thread before Andy Zaltzmann gets any ideas! ;-)

          1. Ian McNee

            Re: same old routine

            I hear Alex Salmon has netted a load for Halibut-Watt University. It's a bream come true for Scottish students.


            1. Ian McNee

              Re: same old routine ***STOP PRESS***

              No - Nicola Sturgeon has just vetoed the deal saying "I'm not a fin of Microsoft".


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: same old routine

      Yep. Usual Microsoft and Apple tactics.

      However, I would have hoped people buying were smart enough to look at the shit build quality and lack of apps first.

      They would be really better off buying a Nexus7 for about the same money.

      1. h3

        Re: same old routine

        What if you are going to university and all you need is Office to submit assignments ? And want to go on Facebook.

        At that price seems close to perfect for a certain class of user.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: same old routine

          A student will be doing lots of typing, and possibly drawing some diagrams / charts etc. They will need something with a decent keyboard, and a decent sized screen, and that isn't a tablet.

      2. h3

        Re: same old routine

        Getting a Nexus 7 would give them a toy without a compliant office suite to submit their assignments with so they would have to buy a version of office and deal with the extra hassle of maintaining a computer. Some people don't like computers. (Or care anything at all about them). If this broke their documents would be on skydrive so they could just print them from a computer lab or whatever.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: same old routine

        Same old Microsoft and Apple tactics?

        That's pretty funny to read, oh I forgot, Google do no evil do they... ;-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Told you so !

    Desperate times, desperate measures.

    Want to be an Apple wannabe at Apple prices?

    Fuck off. T'was a long time coming. Idtiots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Told you so !

      Yes, Apple wannabe.

      I find that USB and user expandable storage on the iPAD very useful. Err, wait...

  3. LDS Silver badge

    MS should run to deliver an Haswell-based Surface Pro

    Hoping it will increase its battery life and make it more appealing. If they add mobile communication and a GPS it would be nearly perfect...

    1. mevets
      Paris Hilton

      I like your angle...

      While it may be satisfying to watch MicroSoft flush their booty down the drain, they have enough that a few more failed products won’t do any serious damage to them. They would have to make a billion of them...

      Paris, because surface is all there is to it, and it blows.

  4. ukgnome

    If they touted these at IT pro's then I would actually buy one.

    I would not pay retail price for one though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, me too. I was thinking about getting a surface pro/other win8 tablet, but the standard surface RT for such a price would be extremely tempting.

      Of course my wife has an email address which is all that Apple required for discounted kit for education...

    2. Crisp

      Re: If they touted these at IT pro's

      They aren't really for IT pro's though.

      I've found that slabs are great if you just want to consume information and services. It is not an environment where you could write an application of any great size.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they touted these at IT pro's

        I do have an MBP to cover pro use, but a tablet to have kicking around in the living room would be good.

      2. Bod

        Re: If they touted these at IT pro's

        " It is not an environment where you could write an application of any great size."

        True. But comms and sharing documents with colleagues on the team, tweaking the odd file perhaps direct in an online repository (git etc), with suitable apps you could do some lightweight development while on a train etc, and then there's Remote Desktop.

        For those who just need access to fiddle with servers, to use as a portable console, it would be quite handy.

        But then an Android slab would do all this too.

        My interest in a Win slap is for Win apps... that don't run on RT.

    3. Tom 35

      RT Why?

      I have one, got it for free. Almost worth the price. It's sitting at home doing nothing, there is a Nexus 7 in my bag with me now that I paid for.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this heavy discounting

    mean that the product is about to be discontinued? Probably the kindest thing to do.

    1. Suburban Inmate

      Re: Does this heavy discounting

      I hear the Findus factory's embedded systems are getting an upgrade...

    2. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Does this heavy discounting


      1. Shift some of that huge pile gathering dust.

      2. Create a market largely ignored until now.

      3. Get some more free publicity.

      1. hplasm

        Re: Does this heavy discounting

        4. Price it so the Gleetard demographic in the adverts might just buy it.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Does this heavy discounting

      Shall we start taking bets on whether RT will get Windows 8.1? and whether this is what will be used to enforce obsolescence?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does this heavy discounting

        Shall we start taking bets on whether RT will get Windows 8.1? and whether this is what will be used to enforce obsolescence?

        This is a perfect example of the mess that Microsoft have got themselves into. They needed to get into mobile phones and tablets to try and stop Apple and Android partners, but they've picked the dumbest strategy

        Android - Targeted phones then worked it's way onto tablets

        Apple - If it's got an 'i' it runs iOS whether it be a phone a tablet or an iPod.

        Microsoft on the other hand have gone for the same interface across three different OSes

        Windows Phone 8

        Windows 8

        Windows RT

        This has caused confusion amongst the less technical people I know and the way that the RT tablets are sold there is very little distinction made in shops by the staff or the signs to educate people of the differences. If you don't ask the questions the staff don't tell you and will happily let you buy a tablet running RT and an antivirus package that isn't compatible.

        Now microsoft are talking Windows 8.1 and are keeping very quiet on Windows RT. Chances are some features will be ported to Windows RT, but then what does that become? Windows RT 8.1? Windows RT.1? Microsofts big interest is keeping people on X86 so they ideally need to limit the features of RT while at the same time exploiting the battery life benefits it brings to phones and tablets.

        Microsoft obviously had a need to rush stuff out there and will more than likely try to unify all 3 OSes down the line, but they've stumbled out of the blocks and made a number of cock ups and I think they'll drive a lot of people away before they get their overall goal of one OS across all devices...

        They've already relented and have a version of sorts of Office running on iPhones and iPads. That was their ace in their hand and now they are slowly giving other platforms access. How many customers are going to switch to iPhones / iPads and Android devices because of that? Yeah it's not the full feature set (yet) but a lot of people don't need the full suite and while they gain a 365 licence they lose potential Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8 licence sales as well as the Office 365 sale.

        I think they are selling these Surface RT devices off at this price because they are ready to cut and run. I imagine they'll withdraw the RT product in 5 to 6 months after little or no more development and they'll hope that Asus and the like continue to make them, but by then who knows how far Android will be ahead of Microsoft

        1. CyberAngel

          Re: Does this heavy discounting

          Killing RT and using Haswell + Windows Desktop/Metro UI 8.1 down to size of the current ASUS 8" tablet at 10W (4.5W) allowing 1024×768

          AND scaling up the Windows Phone 8 GDPR3 using Qualcom SnapDragon up to 800 Series 3W (5W for Tablets) allowing 1920x1080

          THUS overlapping these two platforms => No need for RT

      2. Charles3

        Re: Does this heavy discounting

        I like your name.

    4. Stephen Channell

      Priced to sell

      It's not about to be discontinued, no it's priced to sell.. once you strip out the profit margin that they were looking for, it comes down to the market price.. it then becomes a question of whether they want to push a product they just don't make any money from, and that's still a yes.

      MS can't afford to skip on tables (it's not like Zune) because today's PC will start to look like a mini-computer of yesteryear very soon and they're not dominating in Cloud services... now that the diversion is out of the way, we can look forward to "price dumping" claims from Apple and the inevitable race to the bottom.

  6. Kevin Johnston

    Until August 31st???

    Ummm...surely that requires the Uni's et al to buy this stuff on a whim as the new term doesn't normally start until well into September in the UK. I really don't see any educational establishment chuckign large amounts of money out on the off-chance that they can encourage students to take one in place of the perfectly good laptop/iPad/other tablet they already bought.

    1. BrownishMonstr

      Re: Until August 31st???

      They really should just sell direct to students.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price it like a Playbook?


  8. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 apps?

    Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 "educationally relevant" third-party apps in the online Windows Store.

    Out of curiosity, how many of those 20,000 will actually run on the RT though, and how many are written for Intel-based rather than ARM-based silicon?

    1. dogged

      Re: Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 apps?

      If they're what we're now supposed to call "Windows Store Apps", they'll all run on the RT.

      You can't compile an app that references desktop components for the Store. I tried, just to check.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 apps?

      educationally relevant?

      Well we learn from our mistakes...

      1. Tom 35

        Re: Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 apps?

        For some values of relevant...

        I'm sure some would consider a game that almost works and looks like a C64 port to be educational.

        20,000? Lucky to find 20 actually useful apps on RT.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win8, please just die already

    I am pouring over the spec for a Win8 app as, apparently, Win8 is the best thing ever and poised to replace iOS. Clearly our product management don't read the news or operate in the real world.

    They do get to go on lots of MS paid junkets, I wonder if there could be a connection...

  10. AJ19

    Those who paid $500+ a couple of months ago must be feeling pretty smart right about now.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      It's like the stockmarket.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Dr. Snooker's Patent Bitumen/Radium Medecine. Now with more Mercury!

    ...we want students and educators to have the best technology on the market today

    Don't believe this for an instant, son!

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. The Man Himself

      Re: MS Learning Fail

      Don't get me wrong, I love the Raspberry Pi, but it's horses for courses. The Pi is a great tool for teaching programming and the like, but it's usefulness as a tablet is practically it's not really fair to compare it to the Windows devices referred to in the article


    2. Quxy

      Re: MS Learning Fail

      At the risk of being tarred with the same brush as Eadon ;-), I have to agree with him on the disturbing extent to which Microsoft and Apple have already undermined computer education. I have been hiring engineers for some 30 years now, and I am alarmed at way their "computer literacy" has *declined* during that time. Today's MSEE/MEng graduates are often completely incapable of using their computer as a toolbox for general problem solving, instead regarding it primarily as an appliance which can be used to run pre-packaged proprietary applications.

      Microsoft is the worst offender in this regard, as their OS and applications alike are proprietary; Apple is somewhat better (it even comes with a compiler and development environment), but of course their applications and display manager are still proprietary. The problem here is that proprietary software is fundamentally incompatible with computer education — users are simply passive consumers in their interactions with Windows, and are legally forbidden from adapting the software to solve a particular problem, or from satisfying an intellectual curiosity by examining its source code. An education using the power of computers should be a means to freedom and empowerment, not an avenue for one corporation or another to instill its monopoly through indoctrination.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS Learning Fail

        For the majority of students, computers - like Eadon - are a tool.

        Accountants, the next wave of English novelists, burger flippers, call centre phone jockeys, do not need to bend a computer to their will to get things done. They use apps (whichever OS) they are on. And most all the everday problems (putting words on a page, removing red-eye from photos, etc) have already been solved and are available in proprietary or open source forms for free or for large amounts of cash.

        Microsoft make it easy to get into using Word and Excel with the "Home and Student Office" package which tempts those already using Office at their place of work to buy it for home use (thinking that there might be an occasion when they'll type up that letter or make a party invite at home, rather than in the office while the boss is out at an appointment).

        Computer science has not necessarily degraded recently, years ago my mother said the best programmer she ever worked with was a ex-monk, the comp sci graduates were generally lacking.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: MS Learning Fail

          > For the majority of students, computers - like Eadon - are a tool.

          You now realize that the country is full of fools how think that having a mental representation of their most important tool as an agglomeration of multicolored iconography that can be shifted around is sufficient.

          Zarg from Xandax 5 will now push the "eradicate" button!

        2. Quxy

          Re: MS Learning Fail

          This is the 21st century, and anyone in technical fields or with a smattering of interest about computers ought to be encouraged to learn how to make computers do what *they* want, not just being taught how to operate Microsoft Office. Even your accountant is being ripped off if he pays for a "computer education" class and instead is only taught how to use Excel.

          When it comes to electronics engineers (the only college graduates I generally have to vet and hire), if they can't describe how they'd go about automating their design verification tasks, or perform simple optimisation of a mathematical system model, or quickly assemble a tool to analyse their 100MB data sets, they're going to be shown the door with a polite "it's been nice talking to you". I don't care if it's Visual Basic, or Perl, or Java, or ..., but in the modern world, if they aren't familiar with some programming language, they simply can't effectively do their hardware engineering job.

          1. Colin Brett
            Thumb Up

            Re: MS Learning Fail

            "This is the 21st century, and anyone in technical fields or with a smattering of interest about computers ought to be encouraged to learn how to make computers do what *they* want, not just being taught how to operate Microsoft Office."

            Well said, Quxy.

            Though the follow-up question would be: how do we give those "in a technical field or with a smattering of interest about computers" the chance to learn? I got my first micro back in the Spectrum days because I wanted to cheat on my maths homework and soon learned that the machine couldn't perform miracles just because I switched it on. I had an Oric-1, with something of a dearth of mathematics programs, so to get anywhere I had to program the damn thing. It taught me an awful lot.

            So how do we encourage the incoming wave of schoolkids and students, literally, to "get with the program"?


        3. The Man Himself
          Thumb Up

          Re: MS Learning Fail

          "For the majority of students, computers - like Eadon - are a tool."

          A most excellent soundbyte - here, have an Upvote

        4. Quxy


          Yes, of course in a limited sense the computer is a tool even if it's only used to run Microsoft Office. But saying that you know how to use a computer on the basis of your clerical skills is exactly like claiming that you know how to cook because you can peel the cover off a frozen dinner and pop it in the microwave.

          For office workers, the limited ability to use Microsoft Office may be enough. For accountants, competency with Excel and tax codes may be adequate. But people who claim to know how to use a computer (a fundamental skill for technical specialists, I would assert) need to show that they can use their computers for general purpose problem solving.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tools?

            I disagree, I hate car analogies, but here goes:

            I know how to use my car, I can change the wheels, oil, filters, diagnose basic problems that sort of thing. The likes of Jeremy Clarkson freely admit to knowing sod all about their cars, other than how the controls work, but he knows how to use a car in a far more skilled manner than I.

            Likewise one doesn't need to know how to program to use a computer, in order to be able to use it. In fact that's probably a good thing, because it's democratising, there are now systems which enable spreadsheet jockies to hook up their spreadsheet to an HPC cluster, it's not programming, but it's still al very powerful tool.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: MS Learning Fail

        Actually, it was DOS and then Windows to grow a lof of developers. There was tools cheap enough to let people develop applications, and today there are a lot of free tools to develop on Windows, Visual Studio included. And Windows was the battlefield for many different development tools and languages, unlike some other OSes where there is only one dominating tool and language - like Objective-C in the Apple world.

        Maybe in DOS/Windows you could not examine the source code of proprietary applications, but you were hunting down the APIs and techniques used to implement a given feature - and that was learning anyway, and more - you couldn't copy code - you had to write it yourself.

        What made "computer literacy" decline was the web - which made most people "consumer", and the rise of many languages designed to be "simple" and don't bother the programmer with details like memory managment and pointers...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    MS Fire Sale

    What a surprise, WinRT Surface turns out to be the overpriced crap we said it would be upon release and nobody is buying it.

    Feel sorry for the poor kid that gets saddled with one of these.

    1. Quxy
      Thumb Down

      I'd buy one in a heartbeat...

      ...if it wasn't locked down with UEFI Secure Boot to keep me from installing *my* choice of OS.

  14. Robert Moore

    Nothing new

    I have a Surface RT pad offered to me through work, for $199. I passed. So did everyone I work with.

  15. IGnatius T Foobar

    Unlock it and we'll talk.

    I wouldn't mind having one if I could load Android on it. As long as it's running Windows RT it's useless. Even the Microsoft faithful aren't buying this dud. Let's face it: Windows 8, in all of its incarnations, is an unmitigated failure. Let's hope that Microsoft keeps pushing and pushing this fail until it's too late for them to reverse course.

  16. adnim


    If I was given one I would try to sell it.

    MS couldn't pay me enough to use one.

  17. A Butler

    Use the RT then comment.

    How many of the critics here have actually used a Surface RT for a reasonable period of time and put aside the anti-Microsoft chip on their shoulder?

    I have and find it an excellent tablet V's the iPad. And with full Outlook coming with the Windows 8.1 release it will be a real good business traveler device considering Office is free plus no file compatibility issues.

    It has a full size USB 2.0 port , easy output to VGA / HD Video (for your protector and tele), capacity expandable to 64GB, will work with most printers simply.

    As a productive tablet it takes some beating.

    1. Quxy

      But "productive" for what?

      Sure, the Surface RT may be great for consumption of media content. But how does that translate to being a productive educational tool for university students? More likely it'll simply get used for watching pr0n, while the laptop continues to be used for real work.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: But "productive" for what?

        It's not even great for media consumption. It's ok for web surfing, but the media player apps are crap.

        The only thing it can do better then my Nexus 7 is handle Office files (and I've still had it crash on some of my work excel 2010 files) where I need to do more then just take a quick look at something. I'm not 100% sure I'm actually allowed to look at my work files on it, maybe my licensed copy of Office at work covers me...

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Use the RT then comment.

      Astroroots consumer advocacy? On El Reg? This is like advocating political correctness on /b/.

  18. Herby

    If someone came out with a proper "jailbreak"...

    It might be the end of things. One of these with the UFEI turned off might actually be a nice things to have, all loaded up with my very own software that I want to use.

    Thing to do: Walk into the "Microsoft Store" and ask if I can load MY software on the Surface goodie. The shopping mall isn't that far away, so I may do it. Of course the Microsoft store is across the isle from the Apple store (wonder why?).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If someone came out with a proper "jailbreak"...

      I used to love going into Dixons or the like and asking questions the staff couldn't answer, or changing the screensavers to say rude words. But I was fifteen, I grew out of it, you should too.

  19. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    What about the Software Drivers/Virtual Master Pilots

    What news is there on Masterful Applications for Greater Great Game Play?

    An Immediate Great Game Changer already Initiated and Running like a Dream, is a Concern to Battle Yourself with or better, an Idea to Realise via Virtual Memes and AIMeans into a Stream and Growing Flow of Greater Consciousness IntelAIgently Experienced.

    What worlds and free services, all possible costs paid, can the tablet deliver for real ......... for that is what Global Operating Devices are used for, and useful for too ..... and content for fledgling devices is always the master key to success of capturing device sales.

  20. Francis Boyle

    Have Microsoft

    talked to HP?. I think they need tips on how to do this properly.

  21. Charles3

    Windows 8 is a success

    Microsoft does not have to answer to anyone. They don't need to post records. If the IDC wants to make estimates that's fine, but noone knows the real success but Microsoft. Thier actions state success, not failure. Thier stock states success, not failure. And being charitable to students has always been a cornerstone of Microsoft. Take Office Home and Student. Thank goodness too. Think of my tax dollars being spent for the lowest value per dollar spent Apple. I would hate that.

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